Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)


(Nyasaland, British Central Africa)

Capital : Lilongwe

Size: 46 000 sq m Popn: 8823 000

Central, Northern, Southern


Northern Malawi was inhabited in the Stone Age and Bantu peoples began to arrive about 2000 years ago. In the C15th and C16th came a second wave of Bantu whom the Portuguese called Marave or Malawi in the early C17th. The Malawi Empire occupied what is now the southern part of the country until the C19th. The Ngoni and Yao invaded from the South and East in the C19th, capturing locals and selling them to Arab and Portuguese slavers.

David Livingstone's exploration of 1859 interested Britain and after the 'scramble for Africa' of 1882 onwards, the Nyasaland (the country is near Lake Nyasa) Protectorate was established 1891 and formally declared in 1907. After WWII, strict regulations forcing the production of cash crops and the formation of the CAF encouraged nationalism. From 1953 to 1964, the country was part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland but there were increasing demands for independence. The NAC was formed in 1944 and under Henry Chipembere and Kanyama Chiume became a forceful body in the 50s. They invited Dr Hastings Kamazu Banda to return from Ghana as leader but he and other NAC leaders were imprisoned in 1959-60.

The nationalist NAC reformed as the Malawi Congress Party, Banda was released in April 1960 and Malawi became independent under him in 1963. Banda became President of the Republic in 1966 and retained power ever since with exiled opposition groups having little success. In 1967, he recognized the Republic of South Africa although at this period there was much hostility towards it due to the Apartheid system and conversely, in 1970 recognized the communist government of Angola. In the 1980s, Malawi took in almost a million refugees from the war in neighbouring Mozambique

In March 1992 there were demands for multi-party politics and the end of government corruption and media censorship. The West suspended aid and called for improvements in human rights. Banda announced a referendum on multi-party politics in October 1992.

Malawi is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa with six major Bantu groups, the Chewa, Yao, Chipoka, Tonga, Tumbuka and Ngonde/Ngoni. The official languages are English and Chichewa and religion is divided between Christianity, Islam and traditional beliefs.



Attati Ching'oli Fumbani Kamuzu Kanyama Masuko
Muwalo Ngwazi Ungapake Yatuta Zenas  


Banda Chipambere Chirwa Chisiza Chiume Kadzamira
Kamwana Matenje Mpakati Munthali Mwathiwa Mwatiwa
Nqumayo Nyirenda Tembo Yapwantha    



Bomani Dulani Fulumirani Funsani Kafele Kamangeni
Kasiya Kondwani Kudyauku Kwayera Lugono Madzimoyo
Mandala Mlengalenga Mtima Mvula Mwai Ndale
Sekani Tsalani Zikomo      


Chaonaine Sigele Teleza      



Chisulo Kapeni Lisimba Malawa Mapira Masamba
Ngolinga Ngunda Umi      


Abikanile Alile Buseje Kuliraga Mesi Njemile



This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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