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bryan
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Lhomwe Nation


     Lhomwe is one of the four largest ethnic groups that make up the Malawi population today. They live mainly in the Southeastern part of Malawi, with their greatest concentration in the Phalombe District. We will also find representatives of this people in Mulanje, Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Zomba, Machinga and throughout the Southern Region of Malawi.

     Lhomwe is a people from the group of African nations under the general name of Makhuwa-Lhomwe. In turn, the Makhuwa-Lhomwe group is part of a large family of African nations under the common name Bantu. Bantu constitute the bulk of the population of South-Eastern Africa.

     The land on the territory of modern Mozambique is considered the historical homeland of Lhomwe. The migration of a large number of representatives of this people to the area south of Lake Malawi occurred before the arrival of European missionaries and colonialists. Another large wave of Lhomwes migration to Malawi occurred as a result of the getaway of the people of Mozambique from the horrors of the civil war going on there (1977-1992).

     In Mozambique, Lhomwe speak Elhomwe language. In Malawi, the situation is somewhat different. Although Lhomwe here continue to preserve many of their traditions, the language of Elhomwe in Malawi is used less and less, only older members of the nation use this language to communicate. Lhomwe youth living in Malawi consider Chicheva as their mother tongue, which is one of two state languages (along with English) Malawi.

     In the past, Lhomwe were skillful hunters; at present, due to the growing population and shrinking hunting grounds, Lhomwe are mainly engaged in farming. The main their food crop is yam.

     Tchopa sacrificial dance is an important part of the cultural tradition of the Lhomwe communities in Southern Malawi. The dance is performed during celebrations after good harvests or successful hunting, as well as during offerings to primordial spirits after disasters such as droughts and disease outbreaks. In the musical accompaniment drums of three sizes and whistles are used. Several dozen dancers can perform at the same time. Clothing dancers consists mainly of ribbons. Dancers move in a circle, doing small and swift steps by foot. Some of them carry tools, animal skins, and dolls, even old kitchen utensils in their hands or on their backs. Each village of Lhomwe has its own Tchopa dance groups.

Traditional drums in Malawi
Traditional drums

     The use of the Gondolosi root is considered an important part of Lhomwe culture. The Gondolosi, in a scientific way Mondia whitei, is a wild climbing tree liana, which can be found in sub-Saharan Africa. The root of the Gondolosi is chewed, sometimes brewed like tea. This root has tonic properties; also it is considered an aphrodisiac.

Gondolosi root for sale in Malawi
Gondolosi root

     In the past, Lhomwe women made distinctive scarification marks on their faces as part of their jewelry, but now this custom is disappearing.

Br.Ngaleka, March 2019

        
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