Local traditions and culture in Malawi

  • the smiling people
    the smiling people
    by kharmencita
  • the dancing people
    the dancing people
    by kharmencita
  • decorated vehicle
    decorated vehicle
    by kharmencita

Most Viewed Local Customs in Malawi

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    Malawi´s friendly People

    by kharmencita Written Dec 28, 2012

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    Malawi is not only renowned for its richness in natural wild life and beautiful lakes, unspoiled National Parks but also the unequalled friendliness of the people of different ethnic origins crowned the countries popularity. It is really true in the simple sense of word. One district of Malawi celebrated their Fiesta in Town. We saw everywhere people in traditional colorful costumes, smiling, dancing on the streets in rhythm to the sounds of African instruments. We were welcomed whole-heartedly on our stay. We were integrated with the groups of dancers. It was lots of fun. The warmth, friendliness and acceptance made us happy and that was one unforgettable moments for us. This well-known title addressed to these people of Malawi, “Warm Heart of Africa” should be proud of their outstanding reputation.

    the posing people the smiling people the dancing people washing clothes with lots of fun decorated vehicle
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    A helping hand, or rather a tractor :-)

    by Rusket Written Oct 11, 2005

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    The road construction workers did not build much of the new road that day, they were busy dragging and pushing all the trucks through the muddy area. We had a lot of entertainment watching other cars, minibuses and trucks struggling while we were waiting for our turn!

    I was fascinated by the red soil! To me soil has always been dark brown / black and sand gray / brown. During our long journey I saw soil, clay, gravel and sand in all kinds of colours. Amazing what can occupy ones mind :-)

    This of course took some time and made our detour due to the missing bridges even longer. Travelling through Africa in the wet season, this is one of the things you must accept.

    Beeing hauled, Malawi
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    MALAWI BOWL

    by johanl Written Feb 26, 2005

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    Malawi bowl is a game that is played all over the place.
    It is rather complicated, to me anyway.
    It has to do with beans putting in 16 different wholes on a board.
    They tried to teach me.
    It seems the rules are on the internet.
    I brought a Malawi bowl game home. So i will have to start practicing.

    Village near Lake Malawi
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  • Lady-Charisma's Profile Photo

    TV is banned & cameras not allowed at funerals!

    by Lady-Charisma Updated Sep 11, 2004

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    In Malawi (not sure about other African countries), taking pictures of the deceased is prohibited and you can actually spend time in jail if you do so. No joke. We found out about this when a family member took a shot of a funeral procession. We received a strict warning. A child had died, and as custom has it, the mother carries the child during the funeral procession, entire body covered, in a cloth behind her back. The village women follow in single file, wailing loudly in lament as well. It is very touching because they are all expressing their grief along with the grieving mother. No men are present during this procession (perhaps they are not allowed - not sure). Mothers with babies that are alive, carry their babies in cloths tied on their backs as well, except the babies heads are uncovered, unlike the deceased child.

    By the way, televisions are banned from Malawi (or at least while we were there at the time), and I believe it was a prevention method to avoid the influence of violence. Not sure whether it worked or not. Also, women may only wear skirts or dresses and must not wear pants or shorts (basically, anything resembling mens attire). Perhaps the clothes rule only applies when one is not at the beach or swimming in a pool. But I am not sure of this one though. It does get quite cold in Malawi (no snow, though), so layer your clothes and bring thick socks to keep warm during the cold season.

    Cams & TV Prohibited!

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  • Lady-Charisma's Profile Photo

    They have their own folkloric dances.

    by Lady-Charisma Written Sep 10, 2004

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    For those a bit on the conservative side, you ought to understand that for the locals, folkloric dance and song is an imbedded part of their culture. With each sway of their hips and rhthymic nod of their head, they are expressing their soul to you. Through this, they are communicating stories and sharing their traditions with you. They are fairly easygoing people, so feel free to nod along with them.

    Women Dancing and Swaying
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    Shake hands wholeheartedly!

    by Lady-Charisma Written Sep 10, 2004

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    When shaking hands with the locals, you must accept their hand with both of your hands, sort of cupping their outstretched hand, as well as nod your head to them. They will do the same for you. So, as difficult as it is to explain, it's kinda like a 4-hand shake...haha! Yes, both parties cup each others hands. For the most part, they are fairly understanding if you fail to do this, especially being a foreigner, yet for them it is a symbol of you making a sincere effort to reach out to the other person. The picture I am including is one of a village meeting (I am guessing, since I think it was either my mom or dad who took the picture of them). By the way, this was somewhere in-between 1983-1985, quite a ways ago, but I'm pretty sure the culture hasn't been drastically changed since then.

    Village Meeting
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  • frockland's Profile Photo

    Muli Bwange?

    by frockland Written Aug 10, 2004

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    Malawians are very friendly and `peace loving people`! Imagine: its one of the countries that never was fighting a war. It?s common to greet each other, ask how he is and what the name is. Ask them for their names it can be quite funny because Malawians have a nice sense of humour. I know a family were all the kids were named after Shakespeare?s characters or one was called Benson his brother Hedges!

    People are polite and friendly. (Its probably the only country were i.e. the waiter will say `Thank You` when were thanking for the service) Often it can be seen that they cue up in a line instead of creating a chaos.

    Learn a few words of Chewa and you will earn sympathy.

    Moni! ? Hallo
    Muli bwange ? How are you?
    Ndili bwino ? I?m ok
    Chabwino or chap ? fine
    Zikomo ? please / thanks

    Cueing up to vote in 2004

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  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo

    Malawi 'Carlsberg' Glass

    by Bwana_Brown Written Apr 2, 2004

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    These old beer glasses from Malawi are still going strong 30 years later! Here, is one of the two performing its job with a 'Propeller Extra Special Bitter' from the John Allen Brewing Company, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada!

    Carlsberg Meets Propeller - 30 Years Later
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  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Market, buying cassave

    by sachara Updated Sep 27, 2003

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    I like markets everywhere in the world.
    The markets in Africa are always very colourful and vivid.
    I always like to find out what they are selling like herbs, spices, voodoo stuff, vegetables.
    This lady at the Lilongwe market is gathering cassave.

    Lilongwe market

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    Look at my baby

    by sachara Updated Sep 27, 2003

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    At the Zomba plateau I met a group of women.
    They all were wearing the laundry at their head. In Ghana I saw they even had rather heavy pans with concrete at their heads.
    They wear their babies on their backs in a cloth. This lady was very proud to show me her baby on her back and showed me how she tied the colourful cloth around her breast.

    look at my baby

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  • TracyG's Profile Photo

    The friendliest people in Africa...

    by TracyG Updated Jul 6, 2003

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    You really should never have any problems with them. If you are visiting a remoter village, it is nice to give a small amount of money for a photo, or better still, buy one of the local bracelets and then take a photo - you get beautiful smiles from them after this......

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  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo

    No 'Hippies' Allowed

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Nov 29, 2002

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    In those days, Malawi had a reputation as the strictest country around regarding their dress-code. If you turned up at the border with hair below your ears you were not getting in until it was cut. Similarly, women had to always cover their legs to below the knees when in public (not at the resort though). All of the countries in Central/East Africa also had strict currency controls, but Malawi seemed the strangest of all. On our return to the Zambian border, the Malawian officials would not allow us to cross until we disposed of a couple of bags of potato chips that we had in the car to keep the kids happy - no agricultural exports were allowed it was reported to us! I also happened to have some loose change in Malawi currency and this too was forbidden to be taken out. Fortunately, there was a gift shop there so I bought a couple of Malawi Carlsberg beer glasses to get rid of the money - I still have them and they actually are my favourite glasses! Photo of Torben being prepared for entry by one of the other Canadian volunteers that we worked with.

    ex-Hippy

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  • Imbri's Profile Photo

    This goes anywhere in the...

    by Imbri Written Aug 25, 2002

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    This goes anywhere in the world, so I’m going to mention it under every country. Never
    photograph people without asking them first. It’s rude and disrespectful. By all means
    photograph your friends, and get to know local people, but remember that people are not tourist
    attractions. They don’t exist solely to give you a more “authentic experience” and provide
    excellent photo opportunities.

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    The language in Malawi is...

    by travelisa Written Aug 25, 2002

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    The language in Malawi is Chichewa. Here are some very simple words and phrases, although you'll get by fine in english, too.
    hello --- moni
    how are you ? --- muli bwanji ?
    I am fine --- ndiri bwino
    Thank you --- zikomo

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    SCHOOL'S OUT

    by johanl Written Feb 26, 2005

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    Must be great for the kids to be teached under a baobab.
    No hussle of standing in line before getting to class.
    Just sit in the shade and listen to the teacher.

    along the road
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