African Traditional Religion

Chibambo, Yesaya M., My Ngoni of Nyasaland, London: Lutterworth Press, 1942, 63pp. An early attempt to write Ngoni history, tracing their migration from South Africa, their settlement in Malawi and their encounter with the Livingstonia missionaries. MNA 1,124

Chirwa, Filemon Kamunkhwara, Nthanu za Chitonga, Kachere, 2007.

Chitekwe, N.A., "Kuhara", research paper, Chancellor College, Zomba. 1988, 7pp. Examines the practice, common among the Ngoni and Tumbuka, of a widow being married to a younger brother of her late husband. CC/TRS/1988/11

Chunda, Andrew, "Euthanasia in the Chewa-Tonga Cultures of Malawi", Diploma in Theology dissertation, University of Malawi, 1994, 21pp. Discusses the traditional practice of euthanasia among the Chewa and Tonga and considers the influence of Christianity. CC/TRS/1994/18

Kapalala, C., "Vwaza Marsh", Society of Malawi Journal, Vol 35/2 (1982), pp. 56-58. The religious mths, legends and historical events connected with Vwaza Marsh.

MacAlpine, A.G., "Tonga Religious Beliefs and Customs", African Affairs, Vol. 5/19 (1906), pp. 187-190, 257-268, 377-380; Vol. 6/24 (1906-07), pp. 375-384. MacAlpine was an early Livingstonia missionary who worked at Chintheche and conducted research on local culture and customs. He writes on beliefes about God, spirits, worship, medicine and rites of passage.

Mackenzie, D.R., The Spirit-Ridden Konde, London: Seeley Service, 1925, 318pp. Subtiled: "a record of the interesting but steadily vanishing customs and ideas, gathered during twenty-four years residence amongst these shy inhabitants of Lake Nyasa". MAL DT 858.4 MAC

Mphande, David K., "Annotated Tonga Proverbs for Preaching and Teaching", ms., Philadelphia, 1997. KI

Mphande, David K., Nthanthi za Chitonga za Kusambizgya ndi Kutauliya, Kachere, 2001.

Mphande, David K., "The Use of Malawian Proverbs in Moral Instruction", Religion in Malawi, Vol. 6 (1996), pp. 9-14. Argues for the use of traditional proverbs in moal education and in the inculturation of the gospel.

Msiska, Stephen Kauta, Golden Buttons: Christianity and Traditional Religion among the Tumbuka, Blantyre: CLAIM, 1987, 62pp., Kachere Text No. 4. Dinstinctive in the writing of this pioneering theologian is a profound, though not uncritical, sympathy with the traditional religion of his people combined with a passionate concern for authentic Christian discipleship. He indicates what he considers to be the "golden buttons" in traditional religion which must not be lost. KI

Msiska, Stephen Kauta, "The Certainty of Christianity among the People in the Villages", Christianity in Malawi: A Source Book, Kachere, 1995, pp. 69-80.

Mwakanandi, D.S., "The Role of African Traditional Religion in the Promotion of Christian Faith in Malawi", DTh, University of Stellenbosch, 1990. Argues that Christianity can be rooted in Malawian life by incorporating positive features of ATR. ZTC

Nkhata, A.H.L., "Chipokawawoli", Society of Malawi Journal, Vol. 35/2 (1982), pp. 58-61. A brief account of how Chipokawawoli in Mzimba district became an ancestral shrine and how it ceased to be a shrine.

Nkhoma, Howard Matiya and Moira Kirwan, "Social Change and Widowhood: the Experience of the Tonga People of Northern Malawi", pp. 12-18.

Nyirenda, Saulos, "History of the Tumbuka-Henga People", ed. and trans. T.C. Young, Bantu Studies, Vol. 5 (1930), pp. 1-75; 2nd ed., Johannesburg: University of Witwatersrand Press, 1931. An assertion of Tumbuka identity aiming to make the political point that it was wrong for the British administration to give all paramount authority to the Ngoni chieftaincies since the Tumbuka are the original owners of the land and their chieftaincies should command respect. MNA

Read, Margaret, "Songs of the Ngoni People", Bantu Studies, Vol. 11 (1937), pp. 1-35. A collection of Ngoni songs, indicating the occasions on which they were sung. Argues that the national spirit of the Ngoni has been preserved in their music.

Read, Margaret, "The Moral Code of the Ngoni and their Former Military State", Africa, Vol. 11 (1938), pp. 1-24. The fact that Ngoni society was organised with a view to success in war accounts for the strict moral code (no quarrels, no covetousness, no adultery) which was instilled in the people from an early age.

Read, Margaret, "The Ngoni and Western Education", in Victor Turner (ed.), Colonialism in Africa 1870-1960, III, Profiles of Change: African Society and Colonial Rule, Cambridge, 1972. Notes that, as an aristocratic group, the Ngoni initially did not see any need for Western education which they regarded as suitable for tribes of inferior status.

Read, Margaret, The Ngoni of Nyasaland, London: Oxford University Press, 1956, 209pp. An anthropological study of the Ngoni people with reference to their social, military, cultural and religious life. Examines the impact of Christianity on the Ngoni people. MAL DT 3192. N44 REA

Simwaka, F.I., "Religious Rituals among the Ngonde During Times of Epidemics and Droughts", ms., University of Malawi, 1987.

Soko, Boston J., "An Introduction to the Vimbuza Phenomenon", pp. 9-13.

Soko, Boston J., "The Vestiges of Ngoni Oral Literature", Southern African Journal for Folklore Studies, Vol. 7 (1996), pp. 59-68. A field research into riddles, fables, proverbs, praise petry and songs of the Ngoni which show the many changes that have occurred in the Ngoni community as a result of their interaction with the missionaires, western education and other cultures. Chancellor College French Deparment

Soko, Boston J., "The Vimbuza Phenomenon: Dalogue with the Spirits", pp. 28-33.

Soko, Boston J., "The Vimbuza Possession Cult: The onset of the Disease", pp. 11-15.

Stuart, Richard G., "Mchape and the UMCA, 1933,§ Conference on the History of Central African Religious Systems (Lusaka, 1972).

Tew, Mary, Peoples of the Lake Nyasa Region, London: Oxford University Press, 1950, 130pp. An ethnographic survey of the peoples living around the Lake, examing such matters as land distribution, social interaction, political and economic structures and religious beliefs. MNA 1,600

Vail, Leroy H., "Religion, Language and the Tribal Myth: the Tumbuka and Chewa of Malawi", in Matthew Schoffeleers (ed.), Guardians of the Land: Essays on Central African Territorial Cults, Gweru: Mambo, 1978, pp. 209-234. Comparison of Tumbuka beliefs and customs with those of the Chewa, arguing that southern Tumbuka beliefs overlap with those of the Chewa while those of the northern Tumbuka do not. MAL BL 2470 .Z3 GUA

Velsen, Jan van, The Politics of Kinship: a Study in Social Manipulation among the Lakeside Tonga of Nyasaland, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1964, 318pp. Working with the thesis that social order depends on the manipulation of relationships to the advantage of the participant individuals, the author considers the apparently disorganised Tonga society and notes how it has responded to strong external influences to create distinctive forms of social cohesion. MAL GN 657 T5 VAN

Wilson, Monica H., Communal Rituals among the Nyakyusa, London: Oxford University Press, 1959, 228pp. The author discusses Nyakyusa rituals such as the system of age-village, the 'coming out' ritual in which those who governed the land for about 20 years, retire to give way to the younger generation while retainig ritual functions. NMA 1,661

Wilson, Monica H., Good Company: A Study on Nyakyusa Age-villages, London: Oxford University Press, 1957, 278pp. A study of Nyakyusa society, focusing on relationships of kinship, relationships within the village and relationships within and between chiefdoms. Includes some account of traditional beliefs of the Nyakyusa and their response to Christianity. SML

Young, T. Cullen, African Ways and Wisdom: A Contribution Towards Understanding, London: The United Society for Christian Literature, 1937, 144pp. An exposition of the values which guide African traditional life and an appeal to missionaries to make use of these in evangelization. NMA 3,873

Young, T. Cullen, Contemporary Ancestors, London: Lutterworth Press, n.d., 190pp. A collection of short studies on aspects of African life and belief, such as taboos, ancestors, God and the world, and death. Draws comparisons with biblical teaching. SML

Young, T. Cullen, Notes on the Customs and Folklore of the Tumbuka-Kamanga Peoples, Livingstonia: Mission Press, 1931. This book has three sections: the first is a study of traditional customs, particularly those associated with rites of passage but also considering observation of taboos and administration of justice; the second is a selection of fables; and the third a selection of proverbs.

Young, T. Cullen, "The 'Henga' People in Northern Nyasaland", Nyasaland Journal, Vol. 5 (1952), pp. 33-38. Traces the origin and history of the people who settled in the Henga valley in Rumphi district.

Young, T. Cullen, "The Idea of God in Northern Nyasaland", in E.W. Smith (ed.), African Ideas of God, Edinburgh and London: Edinburgh House Press, 1950, pp. 36-58. Discusses Tumbuka names for God, including Chiuta, Mulungu, Leza, Umkuluulu and the mediatorial role played by the ancestors - not to be confused with worship which is reserved for God. BL 2400 SMI

Young, T. Cullen and Hastings Kamuzu Banda (eds.), Our African Way of Life, London, 1946, 152pp. A Livingstonia missionary and a future Present of Malawi combine to examine the nature of socialization in Malawi, with a particular focus on initiation rites. MAL DT 3192 .C54 KAM 1949

Territorial/Rain Cults

Luhanga, Temwa, "The Mwanda Cult", research paper, Chancellor College, Zomba, 1982, 8pp. An account of the Mwanda Cult, a rain cult observed by the people of Hewe in Rumphi, how the Cult was introduced in the area, prayers conducted and a comparison between the Mwanda Cult and the Chewa ancestral cults. CC/TRS/1982/5

Luhanga, Temwa, J.L. Maganga and J.D. Makombe, Papers on Regional Cults, Sources for the Study of Religion in Malawi No. 7, Zomba: University of Malawi, 1983. A descriptive discussion of three regional cults: The Mwanda cult of Northern Malawi: Nantongwe of Phalombe and Mulanje in Southern Malawi and the Rainmaking cults of Mvera and Nkhoma of Central Malawi, including activities performed at these cults and their importance as centres of cohesion and healing for the people around the cult. KI

Msowoya, Stephen W.R., "Rain-calling in Chief Kyungu's Area of Central Karonga", seminar paper, Chancellor College, Zomba, 1986, 38pp. A description of the rain-calling rituals performed, an interpretation of the rituals as regards their religious significance and a comparison with other similar rituals performed elsewhere in Africa. CC/TRS/1986/2

Rites of Passage

Banda, Eliezer T., "Ng'anga among the Tumbuka of Mzimba: Initiation, Importance and Method", research paper, Chancellor College, Zomba 1988, 13pp. A discussion of the significance and duties of the ng'anga among the Tumbuka, how they maintain their position in society and the methods used in their daily rituals. CC/TRS/1988/7

Manda, G.K.M., "Funeral Conduct in Nkhatabay", Society of Malawi Journal, Vol. 40/1 (1987), pp. 30-36. An account of the traditional funeral ceremonies in Nkhata Bay.

Manda, A. Zeleza, "The Death Ritual among the Tonga of Nkhatabay District", research paper, Chancellor College, Zomba, 1988, 16pp. Explains the death rituals of the Tonga of Chintheche area, beliefs associated with dead bodies and sadaka ceremony. CC/TRS/1988/22

Mbowera, Noel T.H., "Life Systems and Stages (Birth, Growth, Marraige and Death) among the Mtwalo Ngoni", research paper, Chancellor College, Zomba. 1989, 26pp. Rituals associated with birth, growth, marraige and death among the Ngoni of Mtwalo, Mzimba district. CC/TRS/1989/9

Nkhata, Edmond C.M., "Death and Funeral Rites among the Tumbuka of Mzimba South East", research paper, St Peter's Major Seminary, Zomba, 1990, 19pp. Discusses the causes of death, detection of death, diggin the grave, time of burial depending on age, sex and social position of the deceased and the bural ceremony. CC/TRS/1990/25

Nyirongo, Richard W.E.D., "Burial Rituals among the Southern Tumbuka", T.A. Mwenewenya and Nthalire", research paper, Chancellor College, Zomba, n.d., 16pp. Burial rituals among the Tumbuka found in the southern part of Chitipa and Nthalire. CC/TRS/1990/27

Soko, A.G., "Ngoni Marriages as Practised in Mzimba at Embangweni in the Past", research paper, Chancellor College, Zomba, 1988, 10pp. Notes that Ngoni marriages as practised in Mzimba at Embangweni were based at the approval of the elders and marriage was a long process involving all the members of the family. CC/TRS/1988/25

Songa, Saxon W., "Death and Funeral Rites in Ibanda Area in Chitipa District", Theology research paper, Chancellor College, Zomba, 1986, 9pp. Rituals which the Ibanda perform whenever death occurs in the village. CC/TRS/1986/4

Tembo, Matthew, "The Kusuka Mikondo Ceremony in Euthini area. (The Rite of Lifting up the Mourning)", research paper, St Peter's Major Seminary, Zomba, 1990, 10pp. Discusses three major stages that make funeral rites among the Ngoni of Euthini: burial, mourning period and the rite of lifting up the mourning (kusuka mikondo). The latter involves cleansing the sprears in medicated water to remove the spirits of both the deceased owner and those killed by it. CC/TRS/1990/29

Wilson, Monica H., Rituals of Kinship among the Nyakyusa, London: Oxford University Press, 1957, 278pp. A discussion of the rites of passage in Nyakyusa society - birth, marriage and death - which attempts to elucidate the underlying worldview. MNA 1,642

Health and Healing, Witchcraft and Witchfinding

Chakanza, J.C., "Provisional Annotated Chronological List of With-finding Movements in Malawi 1950-1980", Journal of Religion in Africa, Vol. 15/3 (1985), pp. 227-243. A listing, based on original research, of twenty-one witchfinding movements, including descriptions of their activities such as the mwabvi poison deal.

Fiedson, S.M., Dancing Prophets: Musical Experience in Tumbuka Healing, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Marwick, M.G., "Another Modern Anti-Witchcraft Movement in East Central Africa," Africa, vol. 20 (1950).

Kapombe, Eston E.E.J., "Medicine Men", research paper, Chancellor College, Zomba, 1992, 8pp. Discusses the social function of medicine men in Nkhotakota district. CC/TRS/1992/11

Peltzer, Karl, Some Contributions of Traditional Healing Practices towards Psychosocial Health Care in Malawi, Frankfurt: Fachbuchhandlung für Psychologie, 1989.

Redmayne, Alison, "Chikanga: an African Diviner with an International Reputation", in Mary Douglas (ed.), Witchcraft, Confession and Accusations, London: Tavistock, 1970, pp. 103-128. An account of the rise of Chikanga in the 1956-64 period and an attempt to explain the extent of his influence at that time. BF 1363 WIT

Wendroff, Arnold P., " 'Trouble-Shooters and Trouble-Makers": Witchfinding and Traditional Malawian Medicine", PhD, City University of New York, 1985, 350pp. A study of the work of ng'anga (traditional herbalists) and nchimi (diviner-healers) in northern Malawi, with a particular focus on the nature of the healer-client relationship. MNA 3,870

Spirit possession

Chione, C.C., "Rituals, Social Functions and Theoretical Elements of Vimbuza Dance in Doroba and Nkhorongo Areas in Mzimba District", research paper, Chancellor College, Zomba, 1992, 29pp. An account of the major causes of spirit possession, rituals one undergoes in order to become a spirit medium and various ways by which the type of spirits are identified in a person. CC/TRS/1992/10

Chisi, Czprian and Paul Chirwa, "Vimbuza in Tumbuka Area", research paper, St Peter's Major Seminary, 1981, 13pp. Notes that the vimbuza dance which traditionally is used to treat a disease, is now being used for entertainment, and addresses the problem of how the dance can fulfil these differing roles. KI

Nconzana, S.S., Spirit Possession among the Tumbuka, Gweru, 1996.

Ncozana, Silas S., "Spirit Possession and Tumbuka Christians", PhD, University of Aberdeen, 1985, 323pp. Describes the history of the Tumbuka and their conversion to Christianity, then the Tumbuka experience of spirit possession and finally how the church has dealt with this and how it can minister to the afflicted. ZTC

Nkunika, Gift W.Y., "Vimbuza: a Spirit Possession among the Tumbuka of Kasungu North and Mzimba South", research paper, Chancellor College, Zomba, 1993, 14pp. Discusses how a person is possessed, the treatment administered, songs sung and the effects of the disease CC/TRS/1993/17

Soko, Boston J., "An Introduction to the Vimbuza Phenomenon", Religion in Malawi, Vol. 1 (1987), pp. 9-13. Notes that both Christian missionaries and colonial administrators were hostile to vimbuza and attempted to ban the cult. However, despite being forced to become clandestine, it continued to spread widely in northern Malawi.

Soko, Boston J., "Labour Migration in Vimbuza Songs", Oral Studies in Southern Africa, H.C. Groenewald (ed.), Human Sciences Research Council No. 28, Pretoria, 1990, pp. 154-169. The author explains that the vimbuza, despite being a dance performed by spirit-possessed people, was also used as a vehicle amongst the Tumbuka to exhibit the dilemma experienced by women whose husbands went to seek employment in the mines in South Africa or Zimbabwe. The dilemma was a result of the belief that going to work brought ecomonimc improvements in a family - but too long a stay at the mines left most wives anxious to know if their husbands would even return home. Chancellor College French Deparment

Soko, Boston J., "Social Criticism in African Oral Literature: The Case of Chitima Ndhlovu's Songs", in E. Sienaert, C.M. Lewis and Nigel Bell (eds.), Oral Tradition and its Transmission, The Campbell Collections and Centre for Oral Studies, University of Natal, Durban, 1994, pp. 63-88. A collection of songs by Chitima Ndhlovu in which he satirically criticised the colonial government, the long separations between husband and wife of those working in the mines and the activities of the Free Church of Scotland in Embangweni. Chancellor College French Deparment

Soko, Boston J., "The State of Vimbuza at the Turn of the Century and its Spread in Mzimba District", seminar paper, Chancelor College, Zomba 1986. Discusses the origins of the denomination of the cult and its spread in Mzimba district. MAL BL 2470 .34 REL

Soko, Boston J., "The Vimbuza Phenomenon: Dialogue with the Spirits", Religion in Malawi, Vol. 3 (1991), pp. 28-33. Traces the main stages in the treatment of the vimbuza "disease" and argues that the rituals performed bring the society close to the spiritual world.

Soko, Boston., "The Vimbuza Possession Cult: The Onset of the Disease", Religion in Malawi, Vol. 2 (1988), pp. 11-15. An attempt to understand vimbuza by a comparative study with other forms of possession; notes how the nature of the disease is detected and the appropriate therapy applied.

Vail, Leroy and Landeg White, "The Possession of the Dispossessed Songs as History among Tumbuka Women", Power and the Praise Poem: Southern African Voices in History, London: James Currey and Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991, ch 7, pp. 231-277. An outstanding study of the social meaning and significance of the vimbuza from of spirit possession. MAL PL 8753 A6 VAL