Malawi. The Language, Culture and Customs

A view of a group of local children.

Malawians, as a nation, are a friendly and generous people. It is their natural way of being and their genuine smiles are heart-warming


Language

English and Chichewa are the official languages in Malawi. English is understood by almost all the people in the country.

Meeting Malawi

When you arrive in Malawi, you will be welcomed into the warm heart of Africa with a handshake which is the customary greeting - it can take the form of a number of styles and your hand may be held while you talk to the other person. Malawians are friendly people, it is their natural way of being and their genuine smiles are heart-warming.

Malawian families have a great sense of community, all duties and chores are shared. Families living side by side look after one another, giving a helping hand whenever needed. A cultural visit which involves a ‘home-stay’ in a village can be arranged just about anywhere and offers a wonderful way to experience traditional daily life in Malawi.

Malawians are known for their artistic skill and creativity when it comes to handcrafts. A great variety of items can be found which display traditional skills handed down through the generations and also new techniques.

There are a number of tribes such as the Maravi, Nyanja and Tumbuka in Malawi and each has added a particular aspect to traditional masks, dance moves, music (drums and rattles), clothing and also language. The main ethnic group is the Chichewa. Music is strongly rooted in Malawian culture with inflection from the Yao tribe of Tanzania in the north and the Zulu in South Africa amongst others.

Religion

About 80% of the people in Malawi are Christian, with the rest being Muslim. There are a few Malawians who still practice traditional beliefs.