The burial ceremony of the Chewa tribe.

Chewa is a tribe from the Bantu people of South and Central Africa. Mostly from Malawi, since they have the largest of their ethnic groups there. Phiri and Banda are the largest clans, populating with about 1.5 million people. The Phiri are the kings and aristocrats. The Banda are the healers and mystics.

They are popularly known for their masquerades, so when you mention Chewa, what comes to mind is masquerades.

Most African communities have unusual traditions as regards to death, all trying to give the dead a befitting burial. But the Chewa’s death tradition seems to catch the eye, as it’s unusual. It’s being considered inhuman by modern-day thinking.

It’s in their custom that when someone from the tribe dies. During the burial ceremony, they take the person to a sacred place for cleansing. They cut the throat open, then they pour water inside through the throat and then comes out through the anus. They shake and squeeze this person until they can confirm him cleansed.

After the cleansing rite is being done, they pour out the water and use it for cooking for the community. It’s believed that everybody from the tribe has to be present to send the person home. They don’t think that death is natural. It’s believed that it’s caused by witchcraft. Anybody that doesn’t show up for the burial or rejects the food is believed to be amongst the people that killed the dead person.

Funerals, too, are not just to mourn but to socialize, party and meet people. The Chewa people are matriarchal.

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