In the Country Spotlight segment, we highlight an African nation every week, with interesting facts and figures
This week it’s the turn of…. Malawi
DID YOU KNOW?….
- The Republic of Malawi, is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland.
- The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area.
- The country is also nicknamed “The Warm Heart of Africa“
- The flag of Malawi was adopted on 6 July 1964. The rising sun represents the dawn of hope and freedom for the continent of Africa. The black represents the indigenous people of the continent, the red symbolizes the blood of their struggle, and the green represents nature.
- A new flag of Malawi was adopted on 29 July 2010. The stripes were altered from the previous flag to match the original Pan-African Flag layout, with the red stripe at the top, the black stripe in middle, and the green stripe at the bottom. The rising sun at the flag’s top was replaced with a full, centred white sun representing the economic progress Malawi made since becoming independent. There was much public outcry about the need to change the flag, but the process continued despite being unwelcome to much of the public. On 28 May 2012, under new president Joyce Banda, Parliament voted to revert to the independence flag.
- The Great Rift Valley runs through the country from north to south, and to the east of the valley lies Lake Malawi (also called Lake Nyasa), making up over three-quarters of Malawi’s eastern boundary. Lake Malawi is sometimes called the Calendar Lake as it is about 365 miles (587 km) long
- Malawi has two sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lake Malawi National Park was first listed in 1984 and the Chongoni Rock Art Area was listed in 2006.
- Mount Mulanje’s 3,000-metre summit is called Sapitwa, which is said to mean ‘Don’t go there!’ This warning stems from the fact that the mountain creates its own variable climate which can take climbers unawares if they aren’t properly prepared
- The main industries are tobacco, tea and sugar processing, sawmill products, cement and consumer goods.
- Dance is a strong part of Malawi’s culture, and the National Dance Troupe was formed in November 1987 by the government. Traditional music and dances can be seen at initiation rites, rituals, marriage ceremonies and celebrations
- The indigenous ethnic groups of Malawi have a rich tradition of basketry and mask carving, and some of these goods are used in traditional ceremonies.
- There are several internationally recognised literary figures from Malawi, including poet Jack Mapanje, history and fiction writer Paul Zeleza and author Frank Chipasula
- Malawian cuisine is diverse, with tea and fish being popular features of the country’s cuisine. Lake Malawi is a source of fish including chambo (similar to bream) usipa (similar to sardine), mpasa (similar to salmon and kampango).
- Malawians have a saying – ‘chimanga ndi moyo’ or ‘maize is life’. For around 80% of Malawians, life revolves around growing enough maize to feed the family.
- Nsima is a food staple made from ground corn and served with side dishes of meat and vegetable. It can be eaten for lunch and dinner. It is usually prepared using a tripod made of three supporting stones.
- Music of Malawi has historically been influenced through its triple cultural heritage (British, African, American). Malawians have long been travelers and migrant workers, and as a result, their music has spread across the African continent and blended with other music forms
- Malawian artists have been know to creatively mix rock, r&b, and the American urban sound to create vibrant fusion music. One such artist is Esau Mwamwaya whose music fuses traditional Malawian, and pop and urban sounds.
- Traditional Malawian music has also found some commercial success, like the folk fusionists Pamtondo, whose music uses rhythms from the Lomwe, Makuwaand Mang’anja peoples. There have also been more traditionalist performers, like Alan Namoko.
- The Malinpenga dance originated when the local Tonga people watched the military drills of their colonial British rulers. Finding the drills amusing, the Tonga donned parts of the British uniform and mimicked the soldiers with exaggerated dance movements and horns to imitate the military brass bands.
- One of the oldest forms of music and dance is the Gule Wamkulu, which basically means ‘the great dance’. Following traditional beliefs, Gule dancers dress in ragged clothes, animal skins and masks to summon the spirits of animals or dead relatives.
Cape Maclear became the first freshwater National Park. It also plays host to the longest freshwater yachting race in the world with a course over 500km. The mwera south-easterly winds can stir up some rough water as they are funnelled through the Great Rift Valley.
That’s it for this edition of Country Spotlight featuring Malawi!
Join us again next week for our next spotlight
See you then!