After living in Malawi for about a day, you immediately solve the mystery.
Machetes are ....
wait for it....
Precision Gardening Tools
In a place with consistent fuel shortages and a lack of access to power tools, let alone power gardening tools, gardeners use machetes to trim edges, and sickles to cut grass. Most of the grass on campus is trimmed by gas or electric movers, but there are no weed whackers for trimming edges and hard to mow areas.
Where does one buy such precision gardening tools? The markets. Most machetes put Crocodile Dundee's "this is a knife" famous tag line to shame. Admittedly, it's quite intimidating to see people walking around with giant knives.
Anyone seen this before elsewhere?