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Malawi

People & Culture

People | Languages | Religion | Cooking & Recipes | Music | Art & Craft


PEOPLE

Malawi is often called the "warm heart of Africa." because of the warms and friendliness of the people. Malawians typically live with their extended families in huts that are grouped together in villages. A spirit of cooperation prevails as family members share both work and resources.

Malawi has a population of about 10,000,416 (July 1999 est.), with 90% of the population living in the rural areas, and population growth rate of 1.57% (1999 est.).

The Malawi people are of Bantu origin with the ethnic groups including Chewa, Nyanja, Yao, Tumbuka, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian and European.

The Chichewa (Chewa) people forming the largest part of population group and are largely in the central and southern parts of the country.

The Yao people are predominately found around the southern area of Lake Malawi.

Tumbuka are found mainly in the north of the country.

There are very small populations of Asian and European people living mainly in the cities.

Listen to Malawi National Anthem
Words of the Malawi National Anthem

Malawi Flag

Buy a small Malawian Flag
Buy a large Malawian Flag


LANGUAGES

English is the official language and is very widely spoken, particularly in main towns, but sometimes also in remote rural areas.

Chichewa/Chinyanja
Chichewa, is the common national tongue widely used throughout the country where, from 1968 until recently, it has served as the national language.

Background & History
Chichewa words/phrases and their meanings in English.

University of Malawi
Centre for Language Studies - to promote and develop Malawian languages - offers courses in intense Chichewa


Of the other languages spoken in Malawi, Tumbuka is spoken by about 500,000 people in the north, and Yao is spoken by about 600,000 people in the south.

Chichewa Online dictionary


RELIGION

Religious Groups

The Chewa people, who form the largest part of the population predominantly Christian/Protestant and the Yao people are mainly Muslim

T the religious groups in Malawi can be broken down aproximately as follow:
Protestant 55%
Muslim 20%
Roman Catholic 20%
for traditional indigenous beliefs and other minor religions 5%


COOKING & RECIPES

The staple diet is white maize eaten with vegetables and, on occasion, fish or meat.

Nsima - Staple Food

Mbatata Biscuits - sweet potato

Malawian Desserts - recipes including
Nthochi (banana) Bread
Mbatata (sweet potato) Cookies
Mtedza (peanut) Puffs
Zitumbuwa (banana fritters)


MUSIC

The music traditions of Malawi are rich with cultural influences that include those of the Zulu Ngoni people from South Africa, the Islamic Yao people of Tanzania and others.

Most tribes have their own individual songs and dances. Common musical instruments found include drums, the mambilira, (which is similar to the western xylophone) rattles of different types and sizes, shakers which are tied to dancers' legs and arms and are often know as maseche.

Recommended Book

Dancing Prophets : Musical Experience in Tumbuka Healing   (amazon.com) - USA  (amazon.co.uk) - UK
For the Tumbuka people of Malawi, traditional medical practices are saturated with music. In this ground breaking ethnography, Steven M. Friedson explores a health care system populated by dancing prophets, singing patients, and drummed spirits.

Recommended Music

Northern and Central Malawi   (amazon.com) - USA
Various Artists

Southern and Central Malawi   (amazon.com) - USA
Various Artists

Res [IMPORT] Malawi Rocks   (amazon.com) - USA

Other websites of interest

Enjoy Malawi Music
WAV songs for your to listen to

Capital FM Malawi
Malawi's all hit Music Radio Station


ART & CRAFT

Malawi produces various colourful arts and crafts which are handworked to a high standard. There are many craft markets spread throughout the country and along the roadsides.

Chief chairs are a very popular item and can be found throughout the country. We have many available in our shop.

The batiks in particular capture the vibrancy of Malawian culture, depicting the traditional with a modern appeal. Batik cloth prints are created using a traditional wax resist dyeing process.

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