Saturday, October 30, 2010


Notes on the Angoni and Achewa of Dowa District of the Nyasaland Protectorate

  • Saturday, October 30, 2010
  • Samuel Albert
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  • Extract from 'Notes on the Achewa and Angoni of the Dowa District of the Nyasaland Protectorate. by A. G. O Hodgson, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 63 (Jan. - Jun., 1933) pp. 123-164.


    1. Geographical Introduction.

    THE Nyasaland Protectorate consists of a strip of land some five hundred miles in length and approximately seventy miles in width, lying around the southern and western shores of Lake Nyasa, which is the most southerly and the third in size of the great East African lakes. The hot, low-lying plain which forms part of the Rift valley rises gradually from an altitude of 130 feet on the Lower Shire River to 1,600 feet at the level of the lake. To the west of this

    plain is a moderately temperate, undulating plateau, standing from 3,000 to 5,000 feet above sea-level and broken by ranges of mountains whose peaks tower several thousand feet higher. The Dowa District is situated in the centre of the Protectorate. Its area of 2,400 square miles is divided topographically into three nearly equal parts, the alluvial lake-shore plain on the east giving way to the escarpment of the hilly plateau in the centre, which again drops steeply on the west to another plain extending to the banks of the Bua River. Each plain is well covered with light timber and long grass, and contains a plentiful supply of all local varieties of game. Tsetse have long infested the lake shore; on the west, migrating from Rhodesia, they crossed the Bua as recently as 1914 and have now spread as far as the hills. The central plateau is cool and healthy. Formerly well timbered, it has since been denuded by the wasteful methods of the native inhabitants. It is free from tsetse and mosquitoes, and cattle thrive in consequence. The larger species of game are absent.

    2. Sociological Introduction.

    The census of 1926, taken at the time when these notes were compiled, shows the population of the District as consisting of 57,184 Achewa,38,2441 Angoni, 93 Anyanja and 4,627 Wayao, together with an odd thousand belonging to other tribes. The Achewa live principally in the west and centre, the Angoni on the central plateau, and the Anyanja and Wayao on the lake shore. The same census gives a total of 247,000 Angoni and 470,000 Anyanja and Achewa out of 1,200,000 natives then settled in the Protectorate.

    The two last-named tribes taken together are numerically the largest in Nyasaland, and they have probably lived in their present habitat longer than any others; but the exact duration of their residence can only be a matter for conjecture, since the history of the southern Bantu peoples, during the last four centuries at any rate, consists of one long series of migrations and invasions. From time to time clans and tribes have been united under a strong and powerful leader, and a few decades later disintegration has set in and they have almost vanished. New names have frequently been adopted, and few tribes in south-east Africa now bear the same designation and occupy the same ground as did their ancestors four hundred years ago. Oral tradition is supplemented but scantily by the reports of the early Portuguese explorers, who first ascended the Zambezi River at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Their objects were commercial rather than scientific, and they have left little record of the native peoples with whom they came in contact.

    It is known, however, that the Achewa and Anyanja are off-shoots or descendants of the A-maravi, who inhabited the coumtry north of the Zambezi at Sena and Tete in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In his Report upon the Rivers of Cuama (Zambezi) compiled in 1667 Father Manuel Barreto states that this warlike tribe was governed by its emperor, named Caronga, whose kingdom extended two hundred leagues up the river from the port of Quilimane and included all the Macua and many other people and vast provinces as far as Mombasa.2 It may also have embraced part of what is now Nyasaland, since Lake Maravi, slightly to the north-west of the. actual position of. Lake Nyasa, figures in Portuguese maps of 1546 and 1623.3 In 1860, the people living round Dedza, fifty miles south of Dowa, still described themselves as Amaravi,4 and even now among the Achewa and Anyanja there may be found old men who will say, " We are Amaravi but this time-honoured designation has practically disappeared, and has been replaced by "Chewa " north of Dedza, " Mang'anja" on the Shire River, and " Nyanja " round Lakes Shirwa and Nyasa.5 The Achewa living round Dedza and to the south of Dowa are frequently called " Achipeta," but this is nothing more nor less than a nickname bestowed upon them at the time of the Ngoni raids because they fled and hid themselves in the chipeta (long grass) country. In speech, manners and customs they do not differ from the Achewa of the north.

    The tradition of the Dowa Achewa is that they came from the Maravi country on the Zambezi many, many years ago, and finding people of very small stature in the country lying south-west of Lake Nyasa, they killed them and settled in their country.6

    Later, probably towards the end of the eighteenth century, their paramount chief, Karonga7 made his headquarters on the Nkadzapula stream near the present site of Kachindamoto's village, and his four brothers Mwase Kampani, AMwimba, Gebisa and Chipwaira collected a following and emigrated in a north-westerly direction to seek new lands, adopting at the same time the name " Achewa " in order to distinguish themselves from the parent stock. Mwimba and his company halted at the Bua, and settled near Kongoni's, while the others pressed on to the Dwangwa and Loangwa Rivers in the country then inhabited by the Atumbuka. In 1831 Monteiro reported that these " Tombokas were serfs of the Chevas "; the name of the well-known chief, Mwase, first appears in Portuguese records seven years earlier8; and in 1863 Livingstone found chief Mwase, at Kasungu, ruling over " a section of Mang'anja, called Machewa, or Macheba.9

    For some years the Achewa enjoyed a peaceful existence in their new home, keeping, cattle, but living mainly by agriculture, until their tranquility was disturbed by the Ngoni invasion and by the slave raids of the Jumbe10 at Kota Kota. By these the eastern branch of Achewa was continually harassed; and consequently in 1893 Dzoole, Kanyenda and others of the house of Karonga moved south to the Kasangadzi and Mtiti Rivers, and in 1896 handed over this part of the country to the protection of the British Government.

    The Angoni, under the name of Mazitu, were described by Livingstone as Zulus,11 and this terminological error has been copied by more than one subsequent writer. Of their earlier wanderings no record has been traced. Owing, perhaps, to their lighter colour it has been sur- mised that they came from far up the east coast; but it is known that under the style of Abe-nguni, derived from an ancient chief Mnguni, they were settled on the Dedesi, a small tributary of the upper St. John's River, when the Aba-mbo first arrived in Natal about 1620.12 In this locality they remained for a couple of centuries, till towards the end of his reign the notorious Zulu king Chaka fell upon their allies the Ama-ndwandwe under Zwide. A section of the Abe-nguni then migrated northwards under Zwangendaba; and wherever they went they fought and subdued the peoples through whose country they passed, seizing cattle and incorporating captives in their own tribe. After raiding the Aba-suto, Ama-swazi, Aba-thonga13 and Ama-kalanga, they crossed the Zambezi near Zumbo at the time of the total eclipse of the sun on the 19th of November, 1835,14 and overran the territories of the Aba-senga, A-tumbuka, A-safwa and A-mandewere till they came to the land of the Wa-fipa and .Wa-sukuma.

    Here Zwangendaba (or Songandawa, as he is generally called in Nyasaland) died, and his following broke up and scattered in different directions. While others advanced to the north and east, four sections turned back, one under Mombera to the Tumbuka country, another under Mpezeni to the Loangwa river, the third under Chiwere to Dowa, and the fourth under Chikusi still further south. It is with the third section that we are now dealing. The hybrid nature of the Dowa Angoni can be inferred from the list of clans given in a subsequent section (IV, 2). During the last four decades they have intermarried still further with the Achewa, and there are now few, if any, pure-blooded Angoni in the district. Their paramount chief, Chiwere, though calling himself an Mngoni, is in reality an Msenga.

    The general features, characteristics and habits of these peoples are akin to those of neigh- bouring tribes which have been described by the Reverend Duff Macdonald,15 Miss Alice Werner, Dr. H. S. Stannus and other writers, and I have attempted, therefore, in the following pages to confine myself to matters which, so far as I know, have not been recorded fully elsewhere. The present tense is generally used, though in many instances, during forty years of contact with missionary and other European influence, the custom described may have fallen wholly or partially into desuetude. Except where otherwise stated, the notes may be taken as referring to the Chewa tribe.


    Forbidden and Enjoined Unions (Ngoni). 

    The Angoni are patrilineal, and in the case of a mixed Ngoni-Chewa marriage the child always takes the clan (vide infra, Section IV) of the father, whether bride-price has been paid or not. The children of brother and sister may marry each other, but not the children of two brothers or half-brothers, nor the children of two sisters or half-sisters. As with the Achewa, so also with the Angoni it is no longer considered incestuous to marry someone of the same clan.

    Forms of Marriage (Ngoni). 

    When an Mngoni wishes to marry, he sends a male friend without a gift to inform the girl's father of his desire. The father calls his wife, male relations and headman to discuss the matter; and, if they agree to the proposal, the friend returns with the news to the prospective bridegroom who, several days later, despatches his ankhoswe with a present to the ankhoswe of the girl. There are always two ankhoswe on each side, neither more nor less. A father is ineligible ; and brothers, sister's sons and fellow-villagers are generally chosen, as they are more likely to be at hand if required at any time. The present is only symbolic, and generally takes the form of a goat, though in the case of a wealthy bridegroom it may be a cow or something equally substantial. This part of the procedure is known as ku-onga, and as soon as the present has been received by the bride's father, the marriage is valid in law.

    A few days later, the groom sends a friend to conduct the girl to his house. She comes with several elder women and other girl friends, but her mother may not join the party. The bridegroom provides for them a feast of beer and meat in commensuration with his wealth. He presents beads to his wife, this ceremony being known as ku-tendera, and sends a cloth (known as mcheka) to her mother, after which the women return home on the same day without com- summation having been effected.

    About a week later, accompanied by a small boy, the man proceeds by night to his father- in-law's house, and is given an empty house, where he sleeps with his wife. He must avoid being seen by any of the villagers, and therefore departs before daylight, going to a neighbouring village for food and rest, and returning on the following night, when the same precautions must be observed.

    On the second morning he goes back to his village, and after two or three weeks sends a friend to fetch his wife. This time she comes openly, and sleeps with him for two or three nights in any available hut, after which she returns to her father.

    The husband then begins to build her house at his village, and to pay the bride-price. This process is known as kulowola, or kupereka mabeka. The mabeka, or bride-price, may consist of cows, or cash, or other goods; and it varies in value according to the standing of the parties. If the bride is fully grown, payment should be completed within four or five months. Nowadays, however, Ngoni girls are generally married shortly before they reach the age of puberty, and in such cases a year or two may be allowed; but when the husband is unnecessarily dilatory, his father-in-law may oblige him to build a house near his own and to live there until he has fulfilled his contract; and until the bride-price has been paid in full, he cannot expect his wife to reside with him permanently at his own village.

    Customary Licence (Ngoni).

    Pre-marital intercourse was strictly forbidden, but it is now the general practice, though disapproved of by the elders. While rarely claimed, it is still possible for a father to obtain damages from a man who is proved to have had connexion with his young unmarried daughter; and the bride-price is reduced when it is known that a girl has been playing fast and loose as a regular habit.

    Dissolution of Marriage (Ngoni).

    Connubial disputes are decided at the husband's village. A wife may not be divorced on account of barrenness; but in such a case her father gives the husband a younger sister without further mabeka, or arranges with a friend or relation to give his daughter in return for a smaller bride-price.

    When a divorce has been granted, it is made effective by the husband's ankhoswe taking the wife home and handing her back to her father. If there are no children, the bride-price is returned, together with the mcheka, kutendera and other presents made before marriage. Presents made by husband to wife after marriage are considered to be the woman's own property, and she takes them with her. If there are several children, the husband keeps them, and his father- in-law retains the bride-price. If there is only one child, and the bride-price was large, the husband keeps the child and also receives back a portion of the bride-price, the guiding principle being a fair division. When the father is absent and is entitled to the children, his relations take charge of them. But even though the father may be given legal ownership, neither Angoni nor Achewa ever take small children away from their mother, with whom they must remain " until they are able to understand," the father being allowed meanwhile to visit them from time to time.


    1. Infancy. 

    Among the Achewa, twins were never killed. After being washed in medicine, they were taken with a present of a goat to the chief, who thereupon gave them their names. Until that was done, the chief could not visit their village. At night one twin sleeps on each side of the mother, who lies on her back. If one of them dies young, it is buried with a fruit of the " sausage tree " (kigelia plinnata), so that it may not be lonely. Formerly, twin girls married the same man at the same time, and twin brothers married their first wives at the same time.

    Guardianship of a child is always vested in the father until initiation, when it passes to the mtsibweni, and on his death to the mother's other brothers, and then to the mother's sons.

    Among the Angoni, the father is always guardian, with the modification that after marriage a girl must obey her husband before all others. When the father is dead, the father's brothers succeed according to age, then the father's sons in order, and then the sons of the father's brothers in their order.

    2. Inheritance. 

    When a Chewa woman dies, her personal property is inherited by her mother's eldest brother; but he must always give something to the deceased's eldest brother, and may then present a share, first to her other brothers and sisters, and then to his own brothers and sisters, if there is enough to go round. If the woman is married and leaves children, they may also share, if the inheritance is sufficiently large. A man's land and crops at his wife's village are always inherited by the widow; his personal property falls to his mother's eldest brother or, in default, to his own eldest brother; but the deceased's eldest son must always receive a share.

    Among the Angoni, a man's land is inherited by his eldest son, or by his eldest surviving brother, if he has no son. His personal property goes first to his eldest son, or, if he has no son, to his eldest daughter. If he dies childless, his father inherits; if the father is dead, the deceased's eldest surviving brother; if he leaves no brothers, then the father's eldest living brother; and if all these are dead, their sons are taken in order. On the death of a woman, the husband takes the children; but her father takes all her personal property, including her share of the proceeds of the joint property of her husband and herself.


    As might be expected from their history during the last century, the Angoni retain greater regard for their chiefs than do the Achewa. They also are divided into clans or mafuko (sing. pfuko), the members of which were formerly bound by restrictions of exogamy and prohibited food; but these restrictions have long since ceased to carry any weight, and in most cases they and the origins of the clans have been forgotten.

    The following is a list of the true Angoni and of the tribes whom they incorporated with themselves during their wanderings. The names of the principal chiefs are given in brackets followinig the names of the clans.

    True Ngoni. 

    (1) Jere, the clan of Songandawa, which includes also chiefs Msakambewa, Masoatengenji, Zamatyala and Chitete. Jere means a bangle; but the name is said to be derived from the words of Songandawa when he crossed the Zambezi with all his prisoners, " Ningujere," or " We are many." Members of the clan did not eat or kill the domestic pigeon, because when surrounding a village they attached burning barkcloth to these birds which, when released, flew on to the houses and set them on fire.

    (2) Gama (Maliwa). (3) Mgomezutu (Chatambalala). (4) Nkhosi (Njolomole).

    Of the Suto Tribe. 

    (1) Mnyai. (2) Mlipo (Mvuyani).

    Of the Swazi Tribe.

    (1) Ngwenya (Mjuwi). (2) Gausi (Chisenga). (3) Manyatera (Mtumuni). (4) Mafuleka (Kofman). (5) Gwane (Zembezi).

    Of the Thonga Tribe. 

    (1) Sambo (Marasheka). (2) Makamu (Kafanikale). (3) Sungwani (Ndawambi). (4) Mpumulo (Mapilani). (5) Zungu (Machila). (6) Malinga (Mtekateka).

    Of the Kalanga Tribe. 

    (1) Hara (Makanjira). (2) Moyo, meaning heart (Mundolilo). Members of these two clans might not eat the heart or liver, or drink the blood of any animal. (3) Soko, a monkey, (Chikuni). They might not eat monkeys, or baboons, or any food plucked by them. (4) Newa (Chidzaye II). (5) Shawa (Nakutepa). Tabu: the eland. (6) Honde (Kalichero). (7) Mapala (Simakumi).

    Of the Senga Tribe. 

    (1) Mvula, meaning rain (Ndualuwa). (2) Khinda (Zinombe). (3) Lungu (Chiponda). (4) Mumba (Pikeni). (5) Mwanza (Chinguo). (6) Sakala (Chimongo). (7) Muondya (Mgubo). (8) Nguruwe, meaning a bushpig, which was tabu, as was also anv foodstuff uprooted by bushpigs. (Mkukula II.) (9) Ngoma (Dzinaumaleka). (10) Shamvu (Chidzaye). (11) Miti (Msambo). (12) Tembo (Chikunumbu). (13) Kunda (Gwireni). (14) Njobvu, meaning an elephant, the meat of which was prohibited. To this clan belong Chiefs Chiwere, Mtalimanja and Makarani, (15) Mbena (Funsani II). (16) Maleko (Mbirintengerenji). (17) Mkanazi (Chimangamsasa). (18) 17.Mkunja (Wata).

    Of the Tumbuka Tribe.

    (1) Nyalenda (Gwireni). (2) (Chirwa. (3) Chunga.

    Of the Swafwa Tribe.

    (1) Mashatira (Mponera). (2) Sangu (Manjake).

    Of the Mandewere Tribe. 

    (1) Chimbalo (Chimbalanga).

    Of the Sukuma Tribe.

    (1) Nthara, meaning the frame put over an antheap. Tabu: termites (Kamkwamba, Yekoniya). (2) Chisi (Kampimbi, Funsani). (3) Mphepo (Lichapa). (4) Chipeta (Chinyanya). (5) Chizwa (Njumbula). (6) Ng'ombe (Manyusa). (7) Chika (Dumbo). (8) Liwinda (Kalinda). (9) Mlenje (Mgubo).

    Of the Tonga Tribe.

    (A tribe allied to the Atumbuka living in the North of Nyasaland, not to be confused with the Aba-thonga south of the Zambezi).

    (1) Manda. (2) Nkhata. 

    4. Property. 

    Land was acquired by the Achewa by occupation and by the Angoni by conquest. It was divided by the paramount chief among his lieutenants, who in turn divided their sections among the heads of lesser groups or families. Each headman now allots land to his villagers; and if they move the village to a new site, everyone retains possession of the garden which he held before. The allottee. is entitled to trees, antheaps, honey or anything else on his plot; and he may sell crops or other produce, but may not sell or lease the land itself. When reaping his crop, he presents a basket of maize to his headman.

    In the home, the wife must provide the pots, and they are her personal property. The husband must supply her with baskets, hoes, etc.; but everything which pertains to woman's work belongs to the wife. The produce of a garden is the equal property of both. After a boy has passed through his initiation, he is given a small garden of his own. WVhen, as in the case of the Achewa, he leaves the village to marry, the garden reverts to the chief, who is always spoken of as the owner of the land, since it is he who divides it out among his people.

    The majority of the cattle owners are Angoni. Possession is individual; but all the animals in one village are kept in one open kraal belonging to the village headman, who selects small boys to look after them. Herdsmen were formerly unpaid; but now, when a beast is sold, killed or otherwise removed, they receive a present from the owner, as also does the headman. There is no fixed fee; but the owner of a dozen head may give the headman a calf every other year, while the owner of one or two only gives him a goat. If a man living in a village where there is no kraal buys cattle, he frequently places them in the care of a friend at a neighbouring village where there is a kraal, instead of handing them over to his own headman. The friend makes his own arrangement with the headman; but the friend is liable to the owner, and the usual payment is made to the friend, who divides it with the headman.

    If a beast dies in the kraal, there is no liability, provided that the headman (or responsible friend) informs the owner, so that the latter can make use of the meat. Should the headman or friend fail to do this, he must pay the owner a live animal of the same age and sex. Where loss occurs through the carelessness of a herdsman, a case for damages lies against him. Some- times cows calve in the kraal, but generally they wander off into the bush for the purpose; if they are then lost, or killed by carnivora, there is no liability. If a cow sold as sound dies within about four months of purchase, the money is refunded, unless it is shown that the owner is to blame. In the case of a sheep or goat, this period is reduced to about six weeks.

    It is not the custom to hire out cattle, either for ploughing, or for milk. If a cow brings forth twin calves together, she and her offspring are presented to the headman, as the cow is supposed to be an exceptionally good one; and the headman in return hands over three other animals of similar ages.


    1. Preparations for War.

    The Ngoni expeditions against the Achewa consisted principally of raids at times when the crops were ripening and they were short of food. At such times the young warriors who thirsted for war signified their desire by dancing outside the house of the chief. After they had danced for three evenings, the chief fixed a day, food was prepared, and- warriors were summoned from the neighbouring villages. The sing'anga made medicine to protect them against the weapons of their enemies, and as the army filed past him, he dipped a hammer into the medicine; and struck each man on the chest with it. The best-known sing'anga under Chief Chiwere was Chimongo, and his name is still held in veneration.

    2. Methods.

    The Angoni usually came upon their foe unawares, and attacked with a rush. If they met with a stout resistance from a stockaded village, they surrounded it and camped till lack of water forced the besieged to sally forth. Quarter was rarely given to the men.

    3. Subsequent Proceedings. 

    On their return, all who had killed a man repaired immediately to the sing'anga who mixed medicine with goats' milk. The warriors dipped their fingers in the mixture and put them into their mouths. Then they dipped again into the mixture, and rubbed it on their arms and legs, after which they stood up and shouted " O-o-o ! " This form of purification was undergone in order to drive away the chiwanda or affliction which they would otherwise suffer from the spirits of their dead enemies, and until they were cleansed they might not have any connexion with women. Next day, they burned goats' bones, pounded them and mixed them in water, smearing the mixture first on cheeks and throat and then over the remainder of their persons. After this they proceeded to their homes and, having decorated themselves, displayed their reasonable pride by jumping about before the chief, who sent for a bull to be cooked and eaten. Prisoners were paraded, and when a man had taken three or more, one of them was always returned to him by the chief.


    Rainmaking (Ngoni). 

    Songandawa's slave wife, Mwachuma, who was brought by Chief Chiwere to the Dowa District, remained there as the mother of all the people and was always referred to as Gogo (grandmother). All the principal spirits of the Angoni were to be found at her village. When rain was desired, Chiwere assembled his Angoni there, and killed four or five black cows, which were cooked and eaten outside the kraal. Then he prayed to the spirits of Songandawa and Gwaza, and poured water into an ngwembe (wooden bowl), which was covered with another bowl after some of the water had been poured out into a gourd. This praying was known as upasha. As the chief prayed, he held the gourd in his hand; and as he invoked each spirit in turn, he poured a little water on the ground. After the last spirit had been invoked, he rinsed his mouth, spat the water out, and emptied the gourd upon the ground. Then the people went home, and rain fell. 



    Funeral rites (Ngoni).

    The procedure described by Captain Rattray16 in 1907 is still remembered by the old men but the younger Angoni are inclined to follow the customs of the Achewa with certain modifications. For example, they place the corpse in a recess cut out from the bottom of the wall of the grave in order that it may not be soiled when the grave is filled in. They do not leave him anv food, but place his spear and shield and one or two of his knives in the recess by his side. Part of his remaining property is deposited in the main shaft; but the sons always inherit the knives, except the chigumbu (knife for cutting meat), which falls to the head wife.

    On the second day after the death, the widows send children to cut mpulupudwa grass, from which they weave zinthambo to bind on their heads. As long as the widows wear these zinthambo, they must abstain from sexual intercourse; if they fall from grace, they invariably remove the zinthambo first. They must also keep their hands behind their backs when walking abroad, and may only use one hand when gesticulating. They must refrain from conversationl and ablution for two or three weeks, at the end of which they brew beer (known as mowa wa zimbidzi) and invite a few friends to partake of it. Very often a widow's near female relations past the time of childbearing wear zinthambo and observe prohibitions in sympathy with her.

    On the second day, also, the mwini maliro takes cows or a goat according to his means, and divides the flesh among the mourners. The bones may not be gnawed, as this would be considered equivalent to eating the dead man, but they are put into an nywembe basket and thrown away into uhe bush at the end of the feast.

    On the third and fourth days the male relations surround the grave with a fence of tsekera grass known as chiliza, which is sometimes plastered by the women with mud. The Achewa are now beginning to imitate this custom, and also that of wearing zinthambo. Both tribes plant nkhadzil trees about the graves in order that the dead may have shade.

    A chief is not buried in the common graveyard, but in the village' just outside his hut, and a chair is sometimes placed inside the chiliza. One of his senior relations kills a goat, and the new prospective chief ties a root along the handle and blade of a knife, with which he cuts a horizontal strip of skin round the quarters of a goat, and wears the strip for two or three months as a belt, the tail hanging down behind. With the same knife the widows cut off the false hoofs together with a small piece of adjacent skin, through which they thread a string, and then bind a false hoof on each wrist and wear them till the end of the period of mourning. The root must remain fastened to the knife throughout this period, at the end of which all are burnt together. 


    Implements of War. 

    The Angoni carried shields or visyango, made of oxhide. Down the centre of each chisyango runs a bamboo stick, to the top of which is fastened a maila or binding made from the fur of the genet cat (mwiri). The stick is kept in place by cross-pieces of hide known as matoto. Each side of the shield outside the matoto is called the ngwapa. Their favourite weapon wasthe nyukutu or throwing spear, the shaft of which was made of msako or msopani or other hard wood. The head is bound to the shaft with copper wire; part of an ox tail serves as a grip; and at the top is a plume of goat's hair known as the chowa. Battle axes were also used. Round his waist the warrior wore a miyeyo, or kilt composed of strips of skin of leopard, wild cat, monkey, baboon or sheep-some of them straight, and others plaited and twisted. In lieu of a miyeyo, a sporran or chitewe cha ku moto might be worn in front with a similar covering styled chitewe cha ku mbuyo behind. These were generally made of serval or other wild cat skins. Njiwiri or garters, consisting of strips of goat skin threaded with iron bells also known as njiwiri, were worn below the knee; and mitobvu or earrings of lead completed the fighting man's attire.

    The Achewa also carried battle-axes, buit they relied mainly on the bow (uta) and arrow (mpaliro). The favourite wood for the bow was maduwa, and the bowstring or msinga was made from the skin of Sharpe's steinbuck or another small antelope. The barbed head (ncheto) of the arrow is bound to the bano (shaft of bango reed) by bwazi string cemented with the sap of the wild fig tree. The fork at the butt end is known as ntera, and is protected by a binding of bwazi string called kauri, which is also the name for the hair of an elephant's tail. Chiefs displayed a battle headdress styled nyoni, consisting of the feathers of the turaco, coucal (vide supra VIII, 2) and other birds sewn on to a pad of goat skin. An mbera, or band of cowrie shells, was frequently worn round the forehead.


    1. Tribal names in Nyasaland generally take the plural prefix A-, as A-ngoni, A-chewa, sometimes Wa-, as Wa-yao. The singular prefix is M-, as Mngoni, Myao. Further south, Abe-, Aba- and Ama- are more common, e.g. Abe-Nguni, Aba-Mbo, Ama-Ndwandwe. For the sake of convenience, when there is no danger of confusion between prefix and stem, I have omitted the hyphen.

    2. G. M. Theal: Records of South East Africa, vol. iii, p. 464 et seq.

    3. J. S. Keltie: The Partition of Africa, p. 46.

    4. David and Charles Livingstone: " The Zambesi and its Tributaries," map.

    5. Nyasa in the Yao and nyanja in the Chewa or Nyanja language both mean lake, or broad river. Mang'anja is, of course, another variation of Nyanja.

    6. This legend is current also among the Amang'anja further south, and Sir Harry Johnston (British Central Africa, p. 53) states that the natives living around Mlanje Mountain informed him that people of the Bushman- Hottentot type were living on the upper plateau until quite recently, but in spite of intensive search no trace of their remains has been found.

    In the Harvard African Studies III, Varia Africana III, on p. 318, Dr. H. S. Stannus refers to the mythical "little people " of the Anyanja and Wayao, who are supposed to dwell on the tops of high mountains. They are small and fierce, wearing long beards and carrying spears, and are said to damage gardens at night. He suggests that in them we may see the transition from historical fact to fairy story.

    7. The same name as Caronga, who is referred to above. The A-mang'anja use Karonga as a form of address when they wish to show respect to anyone. Chilembwe is used in a similar sense. (Cf. also Journ. Roy. Anthrop. Inst., 1910, xl, p. 308). The A-mang'anja called their paramount chief Lundu or Rondo, and Barreto's report mentions a kingdom of Bororo, extending up the river from Quilimane, subject to Rundo, the second person in the empire of Maravi. L and r are interchangeable in these languages.

    8. E. H. L. Poole: Journal African Society, vol. xxx, No. cxlx, p. 164 et seq.

    9. D. and C. Livingstone: loc. cit., pp. 526, 548.

    10. A coast Arab, acting as wali, or representative, of the Sultan of Zanzibar.

    11. D. and C. Livingstone: loc. cit., p. 381.

    12. Eric A. Walker: Historical Atlas of South Africa, p.6. J. H. Soga: The South-Eastern Bantu, pp. 81, et seq.

    13. In ph and th each consonant is pronounced. Similarly, in au and oo each vowel is pronounced.

    14. E. H. L. Poole: Journal African Society, vol. xxix, No. cxv, p. 290.

    15. Rev. Duff Macdonald, Africana. Miss Alice Werner, The Natives of British Central Africa. Dr. H. S. Stannus, The Wayao of Nyasaland, Harvard African Studies III, Varia Africana III, pp. 229-372, " Notes on Some Tribes of British Central Africa," Journ. Roy. Anthrop. Inst., vol. xl 1910. pp. 285-385, etc., etc.

    16. Some Folk Lore Songs and Stories in Chinyanja, pp.92-99.

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