Get To Know The Tribe That Woman Is More Valued – History Of The Chewa People (Nyanja Tribe)

Immigrants from Congo DR to Malawi and parts of Zambia, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe in the 16th century formed the Chewa or Nyanja tribe.

This Bantu-speaking group is closely related to the Bemba, Nsenga, and the Tumbuka which are the remaining tribes of the Maravi.

The Nyanja people were said to have begun from 1480 and are dominated by two clans; the Banda which are the healers and the Phiri; the royal.
The Banda clan dominated the Mankhamba while the Phiri clan took Manthimba.

Get To Know The Tribe That Woman Is More Valued - History Of The Chewa People (Nyanja Tribe)
Chewa paramount chief (image credit:

This ethnic group recognizes the women as the producers of Bele (lineage). They are more important than the Male gender. Property inheritance amongst the Chewa people are matrilineal same goes to the money gotten through the trades belongs to the mother instead of the father.
They have their Mfumu (king or headman). The village leaders are controlled by the regional chief; the Mwini Dziko who are under the paramount chiefs.

The economy of the people of Chewa depends on agriculture as most of them are farmers, hunters, or fishermen with maize, vegetables, beans, yam, rice, and sorghum as their major crop.
While the Chewa women do the farm work, cook, do household chores, and take care of the kids, the male spent most of their time hunting, taking a long trade journey, or fishing.

According to tradition, the grandchildren spent most of their young years at their matrilineal grandparent’s side which makes the bond between them stronger.

When a young woman and a young man agrees to unite as one, the boy is expected to send Chikole (gifts) – money, clothes, household types of equipment, however, the gifts upon the termination of a betrothal can be refunded.
After the Chikole, the couple is to disclose their identity of origin, which includes their parents and maternal uncles.
The boy will now inform his parents about his intentions, upon receiving an affirmation from his parents he goes with his family to the girl’s family for bridal negotiations and the girl’s parents will go out to inquire about the boy’s background, characters and all about his family.

At the next meeting, if his proposal was accepted, the boy’s family will give the bride’s family a chicken. A wedding will be fixed while the boy is required to be going to the girl’s house and he will be giving land to build his home.

The Chewa people are traditionalists. They have Chiuta as their creator, they also worship Thunga; a serpent spirit and they also practice ancestral worship. They have the god of lightening; Mphambe and Namalenga; the universe creator.

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