Four Norwegians (from now on: azungus), three weeks and a whole new culture. That’s the bullet points for our first weeks in Malawi.
Three weeks have past for the azungus in Lilongwe, Malawi. Three weeks that have been used to familiarize with a new country, a new culture and a new language. Amongst our challenges, the greatest have been the local language chichewa; a rough sea of noun classes and greetings. But thanks to our chichewa captains, Shupe and Martha, we can now see land! Chichewa is a bantu language full to the brim with greetings, politeness and respect. But also unusual questions for us azungus, like: “Where do you pray?” and “Are you married?”. Both questions’ answers being equally unusual for our Malawian counterparts.
We felt a bit more at home when being introduced to the folk songs, but then a little frightened when we learned that music and dance are one. After the first day at the mercy of traditional drumming and dancing master John Duma, we were wondering where this would end. But, after a few days of practicing we felt better. Step by step we got into the groove and into the dance, feeling more local little by little. Or as they say in chichewa: pang’ono pang’ono.
This Friday we celebrated the end of our two weeks of language courses and introductions to Malawian culture and history with showing off what we have learned in front of the students and staff at Music Crossroads. We were wearing a costume made with inspiration from the ngoni warrior tribe.
Our show consisted of Malawian drumming, dancing, talking and singing, and was received with both amusement and support from our Malawian friends!
Our first weeks have been filled with laughter, failing, learning and sore hands, as we have tumbled on the road towards becoming true Malawians. It’s not easy for stiff Norwegians to shake our hips with the accuracy and determination of a piston, nor to grasp that chichewa has ONE pronoun for he, she, it and they. But what IS easy, is to recognize the time and effort being invested in us, and the care and warmth given to us. This has made us realize that Malawi is, without question, the warm heart of Africa. For making our first weeks as good as they could have been we say:
Zikomo kwambiri Music Crossroads Malawi!