Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Malawi's Malipenga (Mganda) Dance (information, videos, & comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents information & comments about Malawi's Malipenga (Mganda) dance. Videos of these dances are also included in this post.

The Addendum to this post showcases a video of the Chilimika dance. That dance is a female form of the Malipenga.

Malawi is located in southeast Africa.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyright remains with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are featured in videos shown in this post. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these examples on YouTube.

"Malipenga is a modern dance for men. It is believed that it was started by ex-servicemen who developed it from the military parades of the old Kings African Rifles.

Malipenga started in Nkhata Bay District and spread all over the Northern Region of Malawi. In the Central Region, Mganda, which is a varient of Malipenga is performed in Kasungu, Nkhota kota, Salima, Ntchisi, Dowa and Lilongwe Districts.

A Malipenga group is known as a'Boma'. Each 'Boma' has its own administrative structure. The success of the Boma is the pride of the whole village. The dance is performed for the entertainment on various occasions."

From Wilson Tembo February 3, 2013
"The Mganda

Like other dances, Mganda is common among the Chewa tribe of central Malawi. This is probably the second most popular dance after Gule wa Mkulu (Big dance) among the Chewa. It is practiced mostly in such districts as Dowa, Lilongwe, Ntchisi, Dedza and Kasungu, and is primarily an entertainment dance performed during wedding ceremonies. The dancers are usually in a group of 6 to 10, sometimes more with a drummer in front of the dancers.

Men who form two or three lines facing the same direction perform it but, as they dance, they systematically face all directions. The dancers hold small flags and a ‘badza’ (made from a gourd). During wedding ceremony performance, entertained viewers throw money to the most entertaining dancer. After a performance, the group is awarded/paid for the performance. Apart from entertainment alone, the dance is a source of income for the members.

Mganda is also performed merely for entertainment on functions such as political party rallies. Like sister dance, Chimtali (which is performed by women), Mganda is also performed during the night in the moon light in villages for entertainment. People come from all corners of the village and surrounding villages to watch men dancing. This group of Mganda dancers is based in Mponela area in Dowa district.

Another popular form of dance practiced in the villages is Chitelera. Chitelera is mostly performed for entertainment on full-moon nights by young girls, but also is used as a form of inter-village competition. Teams of girls travel to neighboring villages to see which village has more talented dancers. Girls form cycles as they dance."

Malipenga dance music from the Tonga-speaking people of Malawi
Various Artists ILAMTR037B
The malipenga, dance music of the Tonga people of Nyasaland, now called Malawi, is said to have originated in imitations of military drills, substituting singing horns--kazoolike instruments--for military brass instruments. Hugh Tracey recorded this music in 1957. The people were from Malawi, but the recordings were made in mining compounds in Zambia and South Africa.

Country(s) Malawi
Culture Group(s) Tonga
Instrument(s) Bass drum; Chandi; Drum, cylindrical; Ensemble leader; Malipenga; Muganda; Vocals
Additional information about this dance is found in some of the video summaries & discussion comments below.

These videos are presented in chronological order based on their publishing date on YouTube with the oldest dated video given first.
Example #1: Malipenga "White"

Bamudala6, Uploaded on Oct 9, 2008

This dance doesn't have a very long tradition but took the Northern Region by storm. The Ngoni Kings literally banned it to protect their traditional dance
Here's a comment from this video discussion thread:
mwai72, 2011
"Here is a hostorical fact. Men from the North, would rehearse this dance EVERY DAY, afternoon, and DEMANDED that women go gardening!!...It took H.E. Kamuzu Banda to tell them, 'hey, it cool to dance, but you cant be doing it at the expense of having WOMEN being the bread winner and you just dancing' Kamuzu was responsible for the mind shift of Northern men. Great dance either way :-)!!"

Example #2: Malipenga "Khaki"

Bamudala6Uploaded on Oct 9, 2008

One of the popular dances in the Northern Region of Malawi

Example #3: Mganda at Kipingu 1

Mtumpya's channel Uploaded on Dec 26, 2010

Example #4: Mng'anda (MTAA KWA MTAA BLOG)

Othman Michuzi Uploaded on Jan 28, 2011

Example #5: Malipenga

onelahv, Uploaded on Mar 11, 2011

Malipenga is a traditional dance for both men and women in the northern region of Malawi, specifically Karonga and Chitipa districts. The men dress in white and paint their faces, dance, play drums, kazoos, and other instruments.

Malawi is divided into three major political regions namely south, center and northern region. Each region is dominated by one or two tribal groups of people. For example, the Yao and Lomwe tribes are mainly found in southern part of the country. The Chewa and Ngoni dominate the central region while the Tumbuka and Tonga occupy a bigger portion of the northern region. However, it is interesting to note that in each of the 28 districts of the country, there are almost each of the tribal members living in harmony with the rest. Intermarriages further strengthen the bonds of relationship.

Each of the tribes performs their traditional dances for particular function or ceremony, and these traditional dances help to spice up the daily lives of African people. As villagers live in small communities, their daily activities are linked and do most of activities together. They eat together. Families bring food and eat together. They farm together, from one family’s farm they rotate to others.

Example #6: Mganda .mpg

frost52, Uploaded on Aug 20, 2011

Ngoma ya asili ya wanyasa ichezwayo na wanaume katika ukanda wa ziwa Nyasa.

Chilimika Dance -For Tonga People in Malawi

lainala, Published on Feb 16, 2013

The Dance that is popular for Tonga tribe in Nkhata-Bay and North Nkhota-kota. This is for the ladies and for the guys it is known as Malipenga. This was during the Banonie Mwale's and Thomas Mwale's Party when they were celebrating that after missing each other for 7 years and during this day also the Audience were happy also after Banonie Mwale accepted their request of becoming an MP of Nkhota -kota North constituency .

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  1. Full Respect and ratings to you for posting this. The knowledge shared here and collated are much appreciated. Im a dance teacher in the UK originally from Malawi.
    I have been researching the dance cultures from back home to educate myself; in order to put together a dance piece in the near future inspired by these dances.
    I can't tell you how much this has been a great help.
    Thank you so much
    Zec Luhana

    1. Zec Luhana, you're welcome and thank you for your comment.

      It's wonderful to learn about other cultures. Thanks to the internet and especially to YouTube people throughout the world can do that much easier than before. but there's also a lot of simplistic and completely erroneous information about people's own culture and other people's culture online. Hopefully, the information in this post (and in this blog) is accurate. If it's not I want to receive corrections.

      Receiving a response from someone who is from Malawi is very meaningful to me.

      Best wishes on your dance piece. Please keep in touch. And if you publish it on YouTube, please send me a link!

      Keep in touchI