Culture

The Malawian society and culture is a blend of various cultures due to the presence of different ethnic groups.


Most of the people are Christians and the other groups include Muslims and many more. As stated earlier English is the official language and Chichewa coming second as the national language of the country. The other languages used include; Chinyanja, Chitumbuka, Chiyao and Chilomwe among many others.


Chitenje a very popular clothing of the Malawian women forms an extremely important part of the Malawi culture. It can be worn over a skirt or trousers as an apron and also be used as a baby carrier. There are different designs for different occasions, and many women will get their finest clothes on for a trip to church on a Sunday.


Men on the other hand have no specific national dress as such they mainly wear western clothes such as jeans and t-shirts. There are a number, however, who will wear religious robes.
Nsima (maize porridge) is the staple food for Malawi. It is eaten together with vegetables, fish or meat as relish. Malawians also like eating rice, potatoes and cassava.

 

Music and dance:

Along with their vivacious personalities, the culture in Malawi is just as vibrant from the native clothing, languages, to the wooden carvings and the games people play. Depending on the region, different tribes have different rhythms and representational dances.

The music traditions of Malawi are rich with cultural influences. The dances have deeper meaning than what appears on the surface.

Most tribes have their own individual songs and dances. Common musical instruments found include drums, the mambilira, (Western xylophone), rattles, and shakers, some tied to dancers' legs and arms. These are known as Maseche.

The most famous cultural dance is the Gule Wamkulu (literally the big dance) of the Chewa. One of the oldest forms of music and dance, Gule Wamkulu or, shortly, Nyau, is both a secret cult of initiated men and a ritual dance performed during specific times or ceremonies like weddings, installations of deaths of chiefs, and initiation of boys into adulthood. There are several kinds of Nyau and each plays a particular, often evil, character representing certain forms of misbehavior in order to teach moral and social values to the audience.
The Nyau believe that they able to summon the spirits of animals or dead relatives.

A drummer helps to control the Gule Wamkulu dancer as he or she summons the spirit through dance and mischievous behaviour. For the Tumbuka, Vimbuza is a common dance for cleansing and healing, characterised by dancing prophets, singing patients, and drummed spirits. For the Ngoni, Ingoma is a war dance performed during special occasions.


Greetings….
Hand-shakes are the most common way of greeting people in Malawi. Anyone seen as being younger or slightly lower in social standing may bow slightly and the Malawi woman either kneels or courtesy. Often you will see younger people also rest one hand on the other as an extra sign of respect.


Muli bwanji” meaning "how are you", is the Chichewa way of greeting each other.

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