What do you know about Malawi? Malawi is a small, landlocked country in southeastern Africa with diverse wildlife and a gorgeous landscape. Here are 8 fun facts about this beautiful country, plus books to learn more!
8 Fun Facts About Malawi
1. The official language is English! But there are many other languages spoken as well, such as Chichewa (spoken by over 57% of the population), Chinyanja (12.8%), Chiyao(10.1%), and Chitumbuka (9.5%).
2. Malawi is a majority Christian country, with a significant Muslim minority. About 87% of the country is Christian (Catholic and Presbyterian), with a 11.6% Islamic population (mostly Sunni).
4. Malawi has two sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lake Malawi National Park and the Chongoni Rock Art Area.
5. Lake Malawi has been described as having one of the richest lake fish faunas in the world, being the home for some 200 mammal and 650 bird species!
6. Schools in Malawi are comprised of 8 years of primary education, 4 years of secondary school, and four years of university. Attendance rates and youth literacy are improving for kids in Malawi!
7. Unlike Nigeria, Egypt, and South Africa, for example, around 85% of Malawi’s population lives in rural areas. The main agricultural products of Malawi include tobacco, sugarcane, cotton, tea, corn, potatoes, sorghum, cattle, and goats.
8. Dancing is a strong part of Malawi culture, during initiation rites, rituals, weddings, and celebrations. The government even made a National Dance Troupe!
Learn about Malawi through Books!
Here are 3 sweet books to learn a little more about Malawi. The first is about a typical child looking for fun and being creative. The second is a true story about a very smart boy who discovers a solution to a problem. The last is a folktale!
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Galimoto, by Karen Lynne Williams. Galimoto is a homemade toy car, made of recycled metal. In this lovely book we meet Kondi, is searches for wires around his village. We eventually see that with limited resources and lots of perseverance, he uses them to make his own toy car!
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition, by William Kamkwamba. This true story is a must read! When 14 yr old William’s whole village was suffering from a drought, he figured out a way to bring electricity to a water pump to his community. We absolutely LOVED how he persevered and found solution after solution. He has a fabulous TED talk too.
The Mean Hyena: A Folktale from Malawi, by Judy Sierra. The storyline might not be what kids are used to- a mean hyena gets a trick played on him. All of the other animals get nice new coats of fur, while the hyena is punished with sticking up hair after he was mean to the turtle. Traditional folktales usually have a moral that teaches kids a value from the particular culture. In this case, it is telling kids not to be mean to others.
I hope that you loved learning about Malawi! Remember, when you teach kids about “Africa,” it’s best to name a particular country or culture instead of generalizing. Africa is not a country! These lessons are the perfect starting point for your exploration!