Malawi Lomwe language

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Malawi Elhomwe
Anguru, Nguru
Native to Malawi
Native speakers
850,000 (2012)[1]
  • Malawi Elhomwe
Language codes
ISO 639-3 lon
Glottolog mala1256[2]

Malawi Lomwe, known as Elhomwe, is a dialect of the Lomwe language spoken in southeastern Malawi.


The Lomwe are one of the four largest ethnic groups living in Malawi and have history of migration across the Mozambique–Malawi border. Many Lomwe moved into Malawi, where they mixed with the Nyanja, in the 1930s due to tribal wars in Mozambique. The Elhomwe language spoken in Malawi is to a large extent a Mihavane dialect while in some districts like Thyolo there are traces of Kokholha dialect.

The Malawian government has taken a step in preserving the language by broadcasting news in Elhomwe language on its MBC radio 1. The establishment of the cultural organisation Mulhako Wa Alhomwe by the late President of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika, on 25 October, 2008, was another milestone. The Mulhako Wa Alhomwe has its headquarters at Chonde in Mulanje District. It was set up to preserve Lhomwe customs, beliefs and language. It has a library and a school of Elhomwe.

Although the Elhomwe dialect spoken in Malawi is not mutually intelligible with other dialects of Lomwe spoken in Mozambique it shares many similarities including vocabulary. For instance one could note the similarities in the following word forms: otchuna (Emakhuwa), onthuna (Lmeetto), and ohuna (Elhomwe) meaning "to want". Similarly the word for "women" is anamwaani (Emakhuwa and Elhomwe), anumwane (Lmeetto).[citation needed]


  1. ^ Malawi Elhomwe at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Malawi Elhomwe". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online


  • Boerder, R.B. (1984) Silent Majority: A History of the Lomwe in Malawi. Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa.
  • Kayambazinthu, Edrinnie (1998). "The Language Planning Situation in Malawi". Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, vol. 19, no. 5-6.[1].
  • Murray, S.S. (1932) [1910] Handbook of Nyasaland. Zomba: Government Printer.
  • Rashid, P.R. (1978) "Originally Lomwe, culturally Maravi, and linguistically Yao: The rise of the Mbewe c. 1760–1840". Seminar paper, History Department, Chancellor College, University of Malawi, Zomba.
  • Soka, L.D. (1953) Mbiri ya a Lomwe (The History of the Lomwe). London: MacMillan.
  • Vail, L. and White, L. (1989) "Tribalism in the political history of Malawi". In L. Vail (ed.) The Creation of Tribalism in Southern Africa (pp. 151–192). London: James Currey.