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Mchinji is located in Malawi
Location in Malawi
Coordinates: 13°49′S 32°54′E / 13.817°S 32.900°E / -13.817; 32.900Coordinates: 13°49′S 32°54′E / 13.817°S 32.900°E / -13.817; 32.900
Country Malawi
RegionCentral Region
DistrictMchinji District
1,181 m (3,875 ft)
 (2018 Census[1])
 • Total28,011
 • Languages
Time zone+2

Mchinji is a town and the capital of the Mchinji District in the Central Region of Malawi. Mchinji Boma, located 12 kilometres (7+12 mi) from the Zambian border and 109 km (68 mi) from the national capital, Lilongwe, is the major hub of government and general business. It has a major railroad junction, being the railhead nearest to Zambia. The area's economy is sustained by rain-fed agriculture.


Pop singer, Madonna, caused legal controversy when she adopted a child from Mchinji.

Mchinji Boma was formerly known as Fort Manning, after governor William Manning. Fort Manning was called a "fort" because the local government offices (the "boma") were once fortified.

In 1930, Fort Manning was attacked by a lion that caused over thirty-six deaths over a five-month period.[2]

A magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck Mchinji on 10 March 1989.[3] At least 9 people were killed, 100 injured and about 50,000 left homeless in Malawi.[3] It was also felt in Zambia.[3]

American pop singer Madonna adopted 13-month-old David Banda from Mchinji in October 2006.[4] This generated international controversy because Malawian law stated that one year of residence was required of potential adoptive parents.[5] The effort was highly publicised and culminated in legal disputes.[6]

On 19 June 2008 Gillian Merron, the British Minister for International Development, responsible for Africa, visited Mchinji and spoke about maternal health and the challenges faced by residents.[7]


Mchinji Boma lies at an elevation of 1,182 metres (3,877 ft),[citation needed] 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) from the Zambian border.[8] It is situated 12.4 km (7.7 mi) away from Katambo, 3.5 km (2.2 mi) away from Kadulama Lambo, 2.3 km (1.4 mi) away from Daka and 4.5 km (2.8 mi) away from Tsumba.


Population development[edit]

Year Population[9][1]
1977 1,962
1987 4,921
1998 11,408
2008 17,881
2018 28,011


Chichewa is the main language spoken in Mchinji.[10] Senga is spoken by some quarters of the population and Ngoni is also spoken by some major population surrounding Mchinji Boma


Mchinji is described as "dirt poor" by The Times.[11] Harvesting rain-fed agriculture is the main occupation in Mchinji, with groundnuts, tobacco, soya and casava beans being the primary cash crops.[12] Maize, yams, velvet beans and pumpkin are prominent food crops.[12] During the dry season, secondary activities are pursued, such as brick-making, beer brewing, bicycle repair and carpentry.[12] Due to a food shortage partially caused by the region's many droughts and partially caused by poor government planning, a UNDP rural development program was established in Mchinji.[12] Mchinji is currently the location of a pilot project of a social cash transfer to benefit very poor members of rural areas.[13]

Politics And Traditional Authority Areas[edit]

There are 10 Traditional Authorities namely; Mkanda, Mavwere, Zulu, Mlonyeni, Pitala, Simphasi, Dambe, Kapondo, Mduwa, Mponda and Nyoka.

The Members for the Malawian National Assembly are six in total. They are for Honorable Kayo Zimchetera East Constituency (in Traditional Authorities Mduwa, Mponda and Nyoka), Honorable Rachel Zulu Mazombwe for Mchinji North Constituency (in Traditional Authorities Mkanda and Pitala), Honorable Alex Chitete for Mchinji North East Constituency (in Traditional Authorities Kapondo and Dambe), Honorable Jerome Waluza for Mchinji South Constituency (in Traditional Authority Mavwere), Honorable Mussa Banda for Mchinji South West Constituency (in Traditional authority Mlonyeni), and Honorable Teleza Mwale for Mchinji West Constituency (in Traditional Authorities Zulu and Simphasi). The members are from the Peoples Party, Malawi Congress Party and Democrat Progressive Party


The Mchinji Mission Orphanage, popularly known as the "Home of Hope", is one of the largest children's homes in Malawi.[14] Reverend Thomson Chipeta, remembering losing both his parents, brought orphaned children into his home in 1992 and construction of an orphanage began in 1998.[14] As of 2007, there are six large residential houses, a dining/assembly hall, a clinic, classrooms for nursery, primary and secondary classes, and staff housing.[14] "Baby David" lived in the orphanage prior to being adopted by Madonna.[4] The children are divided into different houses and each house has its own 'amayi'. An amayi acts as the house mother for the children. Each morning all the children must attend a daily devotion, in which there will be much singing and praying. Following the devotion ceremony the children will all line up outside the 'kitchen' where they will get nsima for their breakfast. Nsima, maize and beans is typically what they will eat for every meal. Not all children living at the orphanage are 'orphans', many still have family however they are unable to provide basic necessities so they send them to Home of Hope. During summer vacation and other holidays many of the children will return to their villages to spend time with their family.


The "Home of Hope" provides a primary school to its residents.[14] Due to a shortage in secondary schools in Malawi, the orphanage built one in January 2006 to cater to all residents in the surrounding area.[14] Children are taught in smaller groups than at government schools and have November and December off.[14] In March 2007, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) donated 600 textbooks to that secondary school.[15] In 2014, American charitable organisation Youth of Malawi, Inc. built a solar-rain water harvesting primary school in Chimphamba Village, Mchinji, for 180 first and second graders.


Roman Catholic is dominant in the district with Parishes such as Guilime, Ludzi, Kapiri, Kachebere, Mkanda and Mchinji Boma. It has a Major Catholic Seminary Called KACHEBERE. Other churches are Presbyterian, Pentecostal and few Muslims. Mponda Catholic Choir is the best in the district


Mchinji Hospital is the only medical facility for several miles.[16] According to actress Claire Sweeney, mothers "only come here if their children are really sick because work on the farm nearly always comes first."[16] As of 2008, the children's ward of the hospital contains 185 children suffering from malaria, pneumonia or anaemia.[17] Patients at the hospital are fed a blend of milk, protein and medicine.[16] The hospital does not have beds for those accompanying the sick, cooking or washing facilities, although in early 2008 a brick shelter was created to protect parents from nature.[17]


Mchinji was previously the railhead nearest the Zambian border, after the 920-kilometre (570 mi) railway from Lilongwe was extended to Mchinji in 1980.[18] In September 2010, an extension of the Sena railway was opened to the border town of Chipata, providing a new rail access point to Zambia via Mchinji.[19][20] The idea of a Mchinji-Chipata railway was conceived in 1982 as part of a bilateral project between Zambia and Malawi, and the Malawi section of the railroad was completed in 1984, though Zambia did not actively pursue the project until 2006.[21]

Minibuses run from Mchinji to Lilongwe, and local shared taxis can be taken from Mchingi to the Zambian border.[8] A water transport system existed from Lilongwe to Mchinji, though Bakili Muluzi favoured road transport and the system was dropped.[22] The nearest airport is at Lilongwe, 76 km (47 mi) away, although there is a closer airstrip at Chipata.

As of May 2020, the Malawi Revenue Authority indicated that the one-stop-border post (OSP), under construction at Mchinji would be completed by December 2020. The OSP will benefit Mwami, Zambia and Mchinji, Malawi crossings. It was built with US$5.8 million, borrowed from the African Development Bank.[23]


  1. ^ a b "2018 Population and Housing Census Main Report" (PDF). Malawi National Statistical Office. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  2. ^ Morris, Brian (2000). Animals and Ancestors: An Ethnography. Berg Publishers. p. 33. ISBN 1-85973-491-X.
  3. ^ a b c "Today in Earthquake History-March 10". United States Geological Survey. 31 January 2008. Archived from the original on 21 April 2008. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
  4. ^ a b Tenthani, Raphael (16 October 2006). "Madonna adoption divides Malawi". BBC News. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
  5. ^ "Madonna Adoption Plans Trigger Broad Backlash". Reuters Wire Services. 17 October 2006. Archived from the original on 23 April 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2008.
  6. ^ Tenthani, Raphael (3 September 2007). "Upset in Madonna's Malawi Adoption Case". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 23 April 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2008.
  7. ^ "Britain urges Malawi to hold free, fair polls". Nyasa Times. 19 June 2008. Retrieved 26 June 2008.[dead link]
  8. ^ a b Murphy, Alan; Armstrong, Kate; Firestone, Matthew D.; Fitzpatrick, Mary (2007). Lonely Planet Southern Africa: Join the Safari. Lonely Planet. p. 233. ISBN 1-74059-745-1.
  9. ^ "Malawi: largest cities and towns and statistics of their population". World Gazetteer. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 25 June 2008.
  10. ^ Baldauf, Richard B.; Kaplan, Robert (2004). Language Planning and Policy in Africa: Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa. p. 85. ISBN 1-85359-725-2.
  11. ^ Clayton, Jonathan (12 October 2006). "Madonna's boy flies out amid fears for the babies left behind". The Times.
  12. ^ a b c d Digby, Bob; Bermingham, Susan (2000). Changing Environments. Heinemann. p. 194. ISBN 0-435-35246-6.
  13. ^ Nankhonya, Jacob (30 June 2006). "Govt to introduce pension for the aged". The Daily Times. Retrieved 26 June 2008.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ a b c d e f "Home of Hope". Malawi Orphan Fund. Archived from the original on 16 June 2008. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
  15. ^ "USAID Donates Books to Mchinji". AllAfrica. 27 March 2006. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
  16. ^ a b c "Malawi: the Children's Hospital". BBC News. 28 February 2003. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
  17. ^ a b Mathiason, Nick (27 January 2008). "Fair trade hopes take root". The Observer. The Guardian. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
  18. ^ "Malawi: Transportation". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 20 June 2008.
  19. ^ "Extending Beyond Chipata". Railways Africa. 2 November 2007. Retrieved 25 June 2008.
  20. ^ "Railway Gazette: News in Brief". Archived from the original on 1 October 2010. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
  21. ^ Lungu, Andrew (5 October 2007). "Defining Chipata-Mchinji Rail". The Times of Zambia. AllAfrica. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
  22. ^ Manda, Levi Zeleza (23 June 2008). "Turn roadblocks into tollgates". Nyasa Times. Archived from the original on 26 June 2008. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
  23. ^ Tikondane Vega (12 May 2020). "Construction of Mchinji One-Stop Border Post Takes Shape". Nyasa Times. Blantyre. Retrieved 23 May 2020.