Malawi: Holidays, climate, national customs
|January 1||New Year|
|15. January||John Chilembwe Day|
|3 March||Martyrs Day|
|1st of May||Labor Day|
|Mid-June||Day of freedom|
|July 6||Republic Day (national holiday)|
|9th October||Mother’s Day|
Source: Countryaah – Malawi Holidays
The national holiday on July 6th is celebrated annually across the country with the performance of traditional dances.
In Malawi there is a humid tropical climate, which, however, is very different due to the large north-south expansion of the country and the large differences in altitude. Since the country is south of the equator, the seasons are opposite to those in Europe. It is warmest along Lake Malawi, in the higher elevations the temperatures are more moderate. The rainy season lasts from November to March, with about twice as much precipitation falling in the north near the equator than in the south of the country.
The ideas of what is meant by a particularly favorable travel climate depend on a number of factors. Cultural travelers are sure to see the climate differently than people who come to the country as business travelers or development workers, for example.
The state of health or age can also play an important role. The months May to October, on the east coast June to August and in the Cape provinces September to May are well suited for a stay in the country for people who do not have any problems with higher temperatures and often high humidity:
people who If you prefer a moderate climate and lower temperatures or need it for health reasons, you should use May and June for a stay in the country.
The following table shows a range of climate data for the country. It should be noted, however, that the climatic conditions in different regions of the country can differ considerably from one another and thus also from the values shown. In addition, such monthly temperature averages say little about the possible current minimum or maximum temperatures. It is not uncommon for average temperatures of around 30 °C to reach maximum values of 40 °C or even more on a number of days. The table therefore only provides a general overview of the climatic conditions in the country.
|month||average number of rainy days||mean maximum temperatures in °C||mean minimum temperatures in °C|
Customary customs of the country
One of the respected local customs is first and foremost a great politeness towards strangers, which justifies the nickname Malawi as the warm heart of Africa. One should definitely be “prepared” for being spoken to on the street and involved in a conversation. Such conversations end with questions about money, it is enough, firm and friendly No! accept. Either way, one of the truly unforgettable positive experiences of a stay in the country is to come into contact with people.
While city dwellers are far more tolerant of inappropriately dressed clothing, more formal clothing should be used when visiting villages and rural areas. You don’t have to go as far as some Malawians who walk around in suits and ties even in the greatest midday heat. But strapless undershirts, shorts and short skirts are absolutely unacceptable. Long-term visitors – be it as civil servants or project workers – should register for a visit with the village chief, the village headman. Given his position, which is still very much respected in villages, it is polite to inform him about long-term visitors.
Female travelers should avoid wearing shorts, short skirts and off-the-shoulder clothing (when visiting villages and rural areas). Those who want to live out the courtesy and respect in their best form can use the traditional chitenji, a wrap skirt that local women wear and that can be bought quite cheaply at the markets.
Homosexuality is a criminal offense in Malawi and can be punished with up to 14 years in prison. It wasn’t until 2010 that a male couple was arrested when they were celebrating a symbolic wedding in their common house. The couple was sentenced to the maximum penalty for gross sexual immorality and causing public nuisance. However, the two men were later pardoned by the President and released with immediate effect.
Dance is an integral part of Malawi’s culture and is not only performed by the National Dance Troupe (formerly Kwacha Cultural Troupe) founded in 1987 by the state. Initiation rites such as weddings are unthinkable in Malawi without dance and music. The Gule Wamkulu (“Big Dance”) is the most important dance in Malawi. It belongs to the legacy of the Chewa and Manganja, whose dancers wear body and face paintings as well as carved masks and feather headdresses during the performances.
During the British colonial era, soccer became the most widely practiced sport in the country. But basketball is also enjoying growing popularity.
Handicrafts and Painting
The native tribes of Malawi have a rich heritage in the field of basket and mask making, some of which are used in traditional ceremonies celebrated by local groups. Wood carvings and oil paintings are particularly popular in the urban centers and are also made for sale to tourists.
The numerous internationally recognized writers from Malawi include Paul Zeleza, Jack Mapanje, Legson Kayira, Frank Chipasula, Felix Mnthali and David Rubadiri.
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Presents the way that MW stands for the nation of Malawi as a two-letter acronym.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Rock paintings in Chongoni
The Chongoni is a 2198 m high mountain in the province of the same name. The area of the protected area – the mountain and the surrounding hills – Chongoni is 126 km² and is located on wooded granite hills in the Central Plateau. 127 rock painting finds have been made. The paintings show the traditions of the gatherers and the pickers of the Chewa people. There are also paintings that show geometric figures, some of the drawings date back to the Stone Age, but there are also paintings that were created in the 20th century. Some rock paintings are assigned to women, and they are supposed to represent female initiation rites of the Chewa.
The rock art in Chongoni was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2006.
Lake Malawi National Park
The Lake Malawi National Park is located near Monkey Bay on the southern shore of Lake Malawi. The area of the park is 88 km². The lake, the Khumba peninsula and twelve islets, the hills of Cape MacLear, Mwenya and Nkhudzi have been part of the sanctuary since 1972, and a research station has been established in Monkey Bay. The species diversity of the fish in Lake Malawi is estimated to be over 1000 species, including numerous endemic (only living here) species of cichlids.
Lake Malawi National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1984.
towns and places
Blantyre (also Blantyre-Limbe)
In 1895 what is now Malawian Blantyre was founded as the first city in Central Africa. It was named after the Scottish town of the same name, where the famous missionary David Livingstone was born. About 750,000 people currently live in the ever-growing city in the Shire Highlands. Together with its sister city Limbe, Blantyre is the largest city in Malawi. One of the main attractions in this vibrant economic center with its numerous Malawian and international companies is the Presidential Palace.
In the small fishing village of Cape Maclear on Lake Malawi, also known as Chembe, things are quiet, because the approximately 10,000 residents don’t like it very hectic. There are some places to stay for travelers before heading out of the city to Mumbo Island, which is just four kilometers away. At the north end of the city, the missionary graves are very interesting. There are the remains of the first missionaries. They died in 1875.
spreads out at an altitude of 1,200 meters, a city inhabited by around 45,600 people, which also serves as the gateway to the Kasungu National Park, which is only 20 kilometers away. The only school for the blind in Malawi is operated in Kasungu, the capital of the district of the same name, run by the Christoffel Mission for the Blind.
Malawi’s capital, a city with broad boulevards that was largely built on the drawing board, is inhabited by around 650,000 people and is growing very quickly, is spread over large areas and its distances can often only be mastered by car. The city is poor in terms of sights and is partly framed by dense rainforest and protea bushes. Close to the city, the Salanjama area is a veritable paradise for birds and ornithologists.
The also called Mangoche, quite quiet town with about 42,500 residents on the Shire River and at an altitude of 480 meters. For many travelers, the city is the starting point for Lake Malawi. It houses the Lake Malawi Museum, which is well worth seeing, and is not far from the Mangochi Forest Reserve. The interesting places Monkey Bay and Cape MacLear are also close to the city.
At the southern end of Lake Malawi is Monkey Bay, a small port town that has a large population of monkeys and derives its name from this. You can reach Monkey Bay from Lilongwe by taking an AXA bus.
About 129,000 people live in Mzuzu, the capital of the Malawian Northern Region. The third largest city in the country is an important transshipment area for regional agriculture, which produces coffee, tea, tobacco, cotton and macadamia in particular. Mzuzu has had its own university since 1997. The city is also the starting point for hiking tours to the Viphya Forest and the Viphya Plateau.
Malawi’s fourth largest city extends at the foot of the Zomba Plateau. Around 100,000 people live in the country’s former capital, founded in the 1880s. In addition to many government institutions, Zomba is home to the headquarters of the University of Malawi.
Mandala House in Blantyre
This is the oldest European building in Malawi.
St Michael and All Angels Church in Blantyre
The Church of St Michael and All Angels, built between 1888 and 1891, is located in Blantyre. It stands on the site where the first Scottish Mission was once established. The Christian sacred building of the Presbyterians is considered the first church between the Zambezi and the Nile. The Reverend David Clement Scott was responsible for its structural design. He was just as uneducated in architecture as the workers who followed his instructions. Nevertheless, a building with arches, domes and two (not identical) towers was built. The organ, established in 1907, was followed by the first electric light in 1912.
Mangochi clock tower
The very imposing clock tower of Mangochi was built in honor of the British Queen Victoria and is a child of the early 20th century.
Museums and cultural centers
Kumbali Cultural Center in Lilongwe
In the Kumbali cultural center of the Malawian capital Lilongwe traditional dances and live music with drums are performed. The whole program is accompanied by a typical Malawian dinner.
Lake Malawi Museum in Mangochi
The Lake Malawi Museum in the city of Mangochi exhibits ethnic, historical and agricultural exhibits. A main focus was placed on the culture of the Yao. It is a tribe that immigrated from Mozambique at the beginning of the 19th century and was on the road as slave hunters for the Portuguese.
Museum of Malawi (also Chichiri Museum) in Blantyre
The cultural and natural history National Museum of Malawi provides information in a permanent exhibition about the most important cultural and historical development stages of the country. The period covered here spans the millennia between prehistory and Malawi’s independence. In addition to this permanent exhibition, the museum has an excellent collection of insects and geological specimens, including the Machinga meteorite. The mobile museum educational programs, which are aimed at schoolchildren in rural areas, are also interesting.
Mzuzu University in Luwinga Established in
1997 in Luwinga, Malawi, northwest of Mzuzu, the city’s university was founded by the Malawian parliament. In 1999 she welcomed her first students. The Mzuzu University, which is independent of the other state universities, has its own administrative structure. The campus is about six kilometers from the city center and can be reached via the M1 Mzuzu/Karonga.
University of Malawi in Zomba
For the first thirty years after independence, the University of Malawi was the only university in the country. It was founded in Zomba, the former capital of Malawi. It is made up of five colleges that can be found not only in Zomba, but also in Blantyre and Lilongwe.
In addition to the two universities mentioned, Malawi also has the Livingstonia University in Livingstonia and Ekendeti and the Catholic University of Malawi in Nguludi.
Kasungu National Park
In the reserve with the greatest number of animals in Malawi, almost all animals in Africa live on approx. 2,000 km², including elephants, buffalo, antelopes, zebras, lions, leopards and cheetahs. The city of Kansungu is considered the gateway to the national park.
Lake Malawi National Park
The park, founded in 1980, comprises the southern and central part of the lake, the Khumba Peninsula and twelve smaller islands and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984.
Lengwe National Park in the extreme southwest of Malawi
The only 130 km2 large protected area represents the northernmost habitat of the rare nyala antelope. Furthermore, various antelope species, buffalo, leopards, lions and warthogs can be observed in the grass savannah.
Livingstone National Park in the extreme south of the country.
The landscape consists of deciduous forests, swamps, grass plains and highlands.
Liwonde National Park in the south of the country
The park is home to forest and steppe animals such as saber antelopes, kudu and baboons, as well as a water bird sanctuary. Hippos, elephants and waterbuck can also be seen from the boat in the reed swamps.
Lizard Island near Salima
The protected island is home to various species of lizards and eagles.
Majete game reserve north of Lengwe
Antelopes, hippos, elephants and big cats can also be found here.
Lake Malawi is an inland sea in the southern part of the African rift valley. It is one of the largest tropical freshwater seas on earth and is so clear that you can sometimes see up to 20 meters into its depth. The number of endemic fish species in this lake is estimated at a spectacular 1,500. Its waves are sometimes several meters high. There are several smaller islands in Lake Malawi, the largest of which are Likuma and Chisumulti.
Michiru Mountain Park near Blantyre
The park is particularly interesting for bird watchers.
Mount Mulanje on the southern border of the country
The highest mountain in Central Africa with 3,001 meters is a popular destination for mountaineers and has the longest steep wall in Africa.
Mwabvi game reserve southeast of Lengwe
A special feature of the animal population in this reserve are the black rhinos.
Nyika National Park in the north of the country
The park is located at an altitude of 2,000-3,000 m and occupies almost the entire Nyika plateau. In the remote region there are 435 species of birds and over 200 species of orchids, as well as numerous butterflies and large game. A sea of flowers blooms here in summer.
Vwasa Marsh game reserve in the north of the central region
Elephants, buffalos, rhinos and countless bird species live in this landscape of forests, grass steppes and marshland.