The Chewa tribe; Where you bear your mother’s name


Traditionally famous for their charms and magic, the Chewa tribe make up about 1.5 million of the population of Malawi. Several narrations established their emigration from different countries before finally settling on the highlands of Malawi towards the completion of the first millennium and it’s still the place they regard as their home.


Chichewa sometimes called Bantu is the language of the Chewa tribe. The language is also Malawi’s official language which could be as a result of the respect ascribed with the tribe or making up a greater percentage of the national population. The approved national language does not sit well with few of the country’s citizen but currently there is no intent of a language modification.


The Chewa’s operate a Matrilinear society which means, kinship is traced from the mother’s side since the women gave birth to the children. The family system is the reason their women are highly respected and are referred to as Bele.


Chewa’s accept immortality as true as they believe every dead person becomes ancestors and still lives within them. They are well conversant with mystical powers and uses it as weapon against whoever they perceive as enemy which is one of the reasons they are feared. Their god is called Chituta.


Their regular masquerade dance, Gule wa mkilu is often referred to as a cult (Nyala) and the dancers are called zirombo which means spirit or animals making community members terrified of them.


The Chewa tribe do not believe people die of natural causes, hence when an individual die, the entire community must be present as they believe whoever killed the person will be frightened to join the funeral. They also carry out a special cleaning ritual for the corpse which involves cutting the throat open then water is poured through the opening and squeezed through the stomach until it comes out through from the anus, the act is repeated until the water comes out clean. The final ritual involves cooking for the entire community with the clean water from the dead.


Some historians believe the earlier members Chewa tribe migrated from Nigeria or Cameroon, reading through their practices which tribe Nigeria do you think they might have migrated from?

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