Malawi: Chichewa Should Be Referred to As Chinyanja - Lost History Foundation Petitions Malawi Govt

23 September 2020

Lost History Foundation has asked the Malawi government that Chichewa should be referred to as Chinyanja and declare all local languages as national languages as opposed to the current scenario where 'Chinyanja' is taken as the main language.

The Foundation wants languages such as Yao, Lhomwe, Sena, Tonga, Lambya, Ngonde and Ngoni to be national languages.

This is contained in a petition delivered to the Minister of Civic Education and National Unity Timothy Mtambo.

"As you may agree, languages are integral to development of anynation. There is a huge chunk of cultural knowledge and values which can only be expressed through indigenous languages.

"This information is at the brink of extinction due to the suppression of other indigenous languages in Malawi," reads in part the petition signed by the Foundation's executive director Conleith Selenje.

The petition is asking the ministry to review the impact of Malawi government's policy directive of 1968 on indigenous languages.

The Foundation says in its petition that after independence in 1964, the most common language in Malawi was chinyanja but four years later, government implemented a policy directive to change the name to become Chichewa and made it the only compulsory national language in schools.

"Indigenous languages spoken in Malawi should be officially recognised as national languages at par with Chichewa.

"They should be taught in schools and students should select among the subjects which languages to learn at school," adds the petition.

Mtambo acknowledged the petition and said the matter needs discussions, saying he will have an audience with Lost History Malawi and let Malawians debate the issue.

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