DancesMalawians have a wide variety of traditional dances which spice up their way of life. There are over 70 traditional dances and three of these namely: Vimbuza, Gule Wa Mkulu and Tchopa, have been proclaimed by UNESCO as Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Among other dances include :- Chisamba by the Chewa, Uyeni by the Ngoni, Chilimika by the Tonga and Likhuba by the Sena
Arts and CraftsCraftsmen weaving and selling beautiful rattan-type furniture and other crafts can be found on most main roads. But a visit to the popular Kungoni Centre for Art and Culture is highly recommended. This is located 80 kilometres south of Salima on the M5, houses the Chamare, a living cultural museum. Some of the works of the craftmen at Mua is found at the Vatican, Buckingham Palace and other palaces around the world. Other pieces of art can be found at Nkhotakota and Dedza Potteries; and in all cities and towns.
Cultural Places to Visit
- A lot of Lodges surrounded by communities offer cultural tours to the nearby villages. Apart from cultural tours provided by accommodation sites, some of the cultural places one can visit whilst in Malawi.
- Blantyre, has the original mission stations and centres of excellence for handicrafts and also the Society of Malawi Situated in Mandala House, the society protects preserves records of the country’s history.
- Zomba and Mangochi have a number of historical buildings, monuments and museums.
- Nkhotakota is of historical significance and has a renowned pottery
- Karonga is the site of an interesting historical and archaeological museum
- Monkey Bay/ Nkhata Bay/ Nkhotakota shows the link between missionaries, with sites of the Livingstonia Missionmarked by graves at Cape Maclear and Bandawe, near Chintheche, before it reached its final and current location near Chitimba in the north.
- Likoma Island has the magnificent missionary built Cathedral, St. Peter’s Cathedral, the same size as Winchester’s!
- Dedza has a lot to offer from the Chongoni Rock Artarea, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Dedza Pottery, where artists and craftsmen can be viewed producing a variety of items that are found all round Malawi and sold for export, as well as the Mua Mission which showcases Malawian culture through the cultural museum, traditional dances and other artistic skills.
- Thyolo has the tea estates with fascinating colonial histories.
- Lilongwe, one can visit the historical war memorial tower and Kamuzu mausoleum.
Popular Cultural EventsMalawi has a rich cultural heritage. Much of its culture has deep tribal roots, while some of its newer events and festivals are truly national in scope and importance. As a way of preserving heritage, groupings have been formed and they include
- Chewa Heritage Foundation,
- Karonga-Chitipa Cultural Heritage,
- Mang’anja Heritage Foundation Mulhakho wa Alhomwe,
- Mzimba Heritage Association ,
- Ndamo sya Ayao,
- Umhlangano wa Maseko and
- Uraha Foundation
Museums and Monuments
Public museums were established through an Ordinance in May, 1957.
The Nyasaland Society (now called Society of Malawi) was instrumental to its establishment. In 2017, the Department of Museums and Monuments was created by government which brought together the former Museums of Malawi and the former Department of Antiquities. Currently, it is this department that runs museums in the country.
Top Mandala Museum
It was the first public museum and 2009 was organized in a two storey building known as the “OLD MANDALA MESS”, Leased from the African Lakes Corporation (Mandala). It opened its doors in July, 1960.
Exhibition theme was a ‘general’ one based on displays of natural history, ethnography, history and archaeology. -It was opened to the public in July 1960.
This was the first purpose built museum building constructed at Chichiri Hill in Blantyre in 1965.
Officially opened in June 1966 and has one main exhibition hall where displays of natural history, ethnography, history and archaeology are exhibited.
It also features open air exhibits among which are a traditional hut (ndiwula), Iron ore Smelting Furnace and a collection of engines and relics built around 1890’s.
It is the main centre for cultural activities.
Lake Malawi Museum
This museum was established by the Society of Malawi in old Gymkhana Club in 1971.
It was eventually handed over to the Museum Trustees in 1976
This made the name of Museum of Malawi change to pluralism hence Museums of Malawi as the establishment was then called.
Exhibition theme for this museum is ‘’The people of the Lake and Their Environment”.
It is divided into four section: The natural history section, the history, archaeology and ethnography, Lake Malawi steamer transport and the aquarium.
Very outstanding on its display is a dummy of the Guendolen gunboat. The gun boat displays original navigation equipment. It began operations in 1899.It is famous because in first world war on 13th August,1914 when it put out of action the German gunboat, Herman Von Wissmann on Lake Nyasa. News of this unprecedented event reached England during the early days of German advance into France and was headlined in the Times as “Naval history on Lake Nyasa.”
Mtengatenga Postal Hut Museum
This museum was restored from an old postal rest hut and organized into a functional wayside museum to depict the development of early postal services in Malawi.
The hut is situated at Namaka in Chiradzulu District, along the Chilembwe Highway midway between Blantyre and Zomba.
Before 1941, mail services in Malawi (Nyasaland that time) were carried out from one point to another on foot. The hut served as a rest hut as well as an exchange point for mail carriers operating between Blantyre and Zomba since Namaka was nearly the midpoint between Blantyre and Zomba approximately 70 kilometers apart.
The history of the hut has been of great interest to the local community who call the place “Mtokoma”.
Mzuzu Regional Museum
This museum was first organized in rented premises of Chenda Mkandawire in the City of Mzuzu. It was later relocated to MPICO Building. Currently, the museum is in the IK Enterprises next to the Northern Region Government Building Complex, but the exhibition is yet to be mounted.
The project to set up this Museum began in 1985 and received financial assistance from the Canadian High Commission. The Museum was opened to the public (unofficially) in September 1990.
Exhibition theme is “Northern Malawi, The People and the Land”.
CultureMuseum Centre Karonga(CMCK) Museum is modelled on the public-private partnership between the Government of Malawi through the Department of Museums and Monuments and the Uraha Foundation Malawi, which was facilitated through donors such as European Union, GTZ, Press Trust and Uraha Foundation Germany.
CMCK is supported by the Town and District Council of Karonga, the chiefs and the people of Karonga district.
The Centre’s mission is to preserve and promote Karonga’s natural and cultural heritage.
The Exhibition theme is “From stone age to democracy”.
It houses fossils of Dinosaurs and early human and pre-historic remains which provide an insight into human origins and history of life on earth.