Chichewa

Learn Greetings in Chichewa

Moni nonse! Hello all! 

As in many countries around the world, greeting one another in Malawi is an important part of the culture. You are expected to greet everyone you see as you travel, even if it means shouting across a field or saying ten “hellos” in one breath. A great first step in learning Chichewa is to learn how, and when, to say hello.

Upon your first time meeting:

When you first meet someone in Malawi, you will greet them with the formal “Muli bwanji?” (moo-li bwan-jee)

Mu- = prefix designated for “You, formal” in present tense -li = root of verb “to be”  bwanji = question word, how?

By using this phrase, you are showing respect and indicating that you are not yet acquainted with the other person.

To respond: “Ndili bwino, kaya inu?” (indee-lee bwee-no, kai-ya, ee-nu)

Ndi- = prefix for “I”  -li = “to be” bwino = well Kaya = I don’t know  inu = And you?
In the morning time: 

If you are greeting a friend or familiar face anytime before noon, you will ask “Mwadzuka bwanji?” (ma-dzoo-ka bwan-jee). This greeting literally translates to, “How did you wake?”

Mwa- = prefix designated for “You, formal” in past tense -dzuka = root of verb “to wake”  bwanji = question word, how?

In response: “Ndadzuka bwino, kaya inu?” (inda-dzoo-ka bwee-no, kai-ya ee-nu).

Nda- = prefix for “I” in past tense  -dzuka = “to wake” bwino = well Kaya = I don’t know  inu = And you?
In the afternoon:

If you are greeting a friend or familiar face anytime after noon, you should ask instead “Mwaswera bwanji” (mwa-swera bwanji), or “How have you spent your day?”

Mwa- = prefix designated for “You, formal” in past tense -swera = root of verb “to spend” (as in spending time)  bwanji = question word, how?

In response, you will reply: “Ndaswera bwino, kaya inu?”

Remember that Malawi is a very polite country! At the end of each greeting exchange, thank you’s will be exchanged.
Zikomo, zikomo.

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Resources for Self-Instructional Learners of Less Commonly Taught Languages by University of Wisconsin-Madison Students in African 671 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.