Maravi People of Malawi and Mozambique.

Maravi People also known as Nyanja People can be found in Malawi and Mozambique, they are part of the Bantu speaking people and they are considered to be part of the Chewa ethnic group. The Maravi People were part of the large Nyanja migration from Central Zaire to Malawi between the 14th and 15th Century, traditionally they are opened and they accept outsiders to live in their area this is a sign of unity, love and caring as well, Maravi and other ethnic groups have a rich traditions of basket making, mask carving, wood carving, some of these are still used during traditional ceremonies. According to their Oral history through this period of time the ethnic groups on the western side of the Lake had lived in loosely formed local clans , It is believed this started to change with the Importance of the Ivory trade coming out of the Interior , the clans began to move to more centrally located Kingdoms , such Kingdom was considered as the Empire of the Maravi that was formed around 1480 , It was ruled by a Kalonga and was centered on agricultural trade base society , It reached Its peak between 1600 and 1650, when King Masula ruled , the Kingdom maintained good relations with the Portuguese until It collapsed around 1700. While many ethnic groups in Central Malawi moved toward centralization It is said it was not true the one of the ethnic groups in the northern area, this was Tumbuka, and for them politics had little to do with their clan unity they were united both in culture and language. In the Maravi Culture they have a matrilineal Kinship system this simply means Inheritance are passed down through the mother’s line, Children are considered members of their mother’s lineage, their maternal uncles which is their mother’s brother, young people choose their own marriage partners however, the marriage cannot be recognized as valid without approval of their maternal uncles. In their Culture divorce is quite common and rather simple , Polygamy is practiced having more than one wife and According to Anthropologist Joshua the name ‘’ Malawi’’ comes from the Maravi who are descendants of the Bantus who migrated from Southern part of Congo around 1400 AD upon reaching the northern Lake Present day Malawi, the group is divided with one group moving south down the west bank of the lake Chad and they became known as Chewa, while other groups , their ancestors were from Nyanja ethnic group who moved along the east side of the lake to the Southern Malawi . According to Sheila Mcdonald the eastern coast of the continent of Africa has been the focal point of major International trade all the way back to the days of Phoenician traders but even before this time , as far as 8000 BC the pygmy descendants flourished in numbers of sites in the area of Present day Malawi , It is believed evidence has been found of human skeletons flint arrow heads, and Imaginative paintings in their cave dwellings are still in evidence this modern day record Indicate a thriving trade existed between Shirazi Persian Arabs and the east coast of the continent as far back as 1000 AD by 1300 AD the Swahili city states from the region around Present day Somalia , to as far as Southern Mozambique coast , were Involved in trade relations with the Arabs . Between the 10th and 11th Centuries AD, coinciding with the Iron Age, the Bantus began migrating into the area from Present day Congo, the consolidation of these ethnic groups into what would be known as Maravi Empire during the 16th Century by the arrival of the Portuguese traders. According to James Bruwer account on the Maravi Origin and migration he said from what evidence I have gathered during my period of service among the Chewa or Cewa People of the Eastern Province of Northern Rhodesia , there appears to be no doubt that they are together with a number of kindered subgroups today hailed as different ethnic groups in Nyasaland , Portuguese East Africa and Rhodesia are sections of a once powerful tribe , the Amaravi known as Maravi historical evidence as found as quoted by Mr. Cullen Young also points in the same direction . During the time of Bocarro and Barreto’s writings, the Malawi appears to have been a powerful and well as organized tribe, two Important names were connected with these people Maravi was governed by his Emperor Caronga, the Maravi Empire stretched from Quelimane to Mombasa in 1667, In 1798 at Lupata ends the district of Kinglet bive subject to the Undi or the Maravi Emperor, Lacerda was the lands of Kazembe. Nyasaland is concerned , coincides with findings , among Undi’s the people of the Phili , Banda and Mwale clans are the major clans , Undi himself belong to the Phili clan, the Akhana clan is present but Insignificant the period of the settlement along the west shores of Lake Nyasa , the great migration southward from a place known as Uluwa It is claimed this must have been right in the heart of Africa , somewhere around the great lakes Tanganyika and Victoria , where It is believed they might have formed part of the Lunda Empire under Msokatanda the one who “ Stitches together” the country It is not Impossible that the name “Maravi” originated here , and that Lake Tanganyika was indeed the Lakes of flame , According to other accounts the Maravi Empire was a centralized system of government established in Southern Africa about 1480 , the members of the Confederacy were related to the ethnolinguistic groups who had migrated from the north in Present day Central and Southern Malawi , the Maravi Confederacy was ruled by Karong a King , whose authority was passed down through the leaders of each clans . The main body of the Maravi Confederacy was settled in an area which is the Southwest of Lake Nyasa , two groups moved south into the Shire river valley during the 15th or 16th Century and other groups moved into territories in Present day Zambia and Mozambique the confederacy its peak during the 17th Century and ministering a large river area that stretched north of Zambezi river to the Dwangwa river west to the Luangwa river and east to the Mozambique coast, Its decline began when Clan leaders , who traded in Ivory and Iron with the Arabs and even Portuguese which became Increasingly Independent of Central authority of the Karonga by 1720 , the Confederacy had broken into autonomous factions.

According to Sir. Gareth Daney It is said the largest group in Malawi are the Chewa, part of the Maravi Empire who settled in modern day Malawi from the 16th Century, Chewa dominate the Central and Southern regions another Maravi ethnic group dominated the north while Yao and Lomwe moved into Malawi during the 19th Century migrating from Mozambique to escape from wars. The Indigenous People are the 16 major ethnic group such as Makua the largest Southern ethnic group of Mozambique Including Shona, Thonga, Chopi, Ngui, Maravi, Yao, Makua, Lomwe and Makonde lived in the north of the Zambesi river and among the Maravi they performed traditional dances such as Akwa Kwacha, reed dance, Ngau a mask dance and Wakulu dance.




Souce:Africani Sankofa

credit:Susana Herref

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