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There are eight major tribes in Malawi which are the Chewa, Yao, Tumbuka, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni and Ngonde.  Although these tribes speak their respecive ethnic languages and dialects, Chichewa and English are the country's official languages.


Chichewa is a language of the Bantu language family, spoken in parts of East, Central, and Southern Africa. It is spoken in Malawi where, from 1968 until recently, it has served as the national language. It is also spoken in Mozambique, especially in the provinces of Tete and Niassa, in Zambia (especially in the Eastern Province), as well as in Zimbabwe where, according to some estimates, it ranks as the third most widely used local language, after Shona and Ndebele. The countries of Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique constitute the central location of Chichewa (Nyanja).

Basic Chichewa Words

Pronunciation guide:
a- as a in father
e- as e in bed
i - as i in hit
o- as o in go
u- as u in put



Moni Hallo
Zikomo Fine
Mulibwanji How are you
I want 
Ndipaseni Give me
Madzi water
I am going
Excuse me
Apo/uko There 

Learn Chichewa on line:  www.cnr.berkeley.edu/~alyons/chichewa/