Malawi, officially the Republic of Malawi, is a landlocked country in Southeastern Africa bordered by Tanzania, Zambia, and Mozambique. It is one of the smallest countries in Africa with an area of 45,460 square miles and an estimated population of 16.8 million. Lilongwe is the country’s capital and largest city. It is under the leadership of the president who is elected democratically. English is the country’s official language, but other ethnic languages are used. The people of Malawi are mainly Bantus divided into several ethnic groups with different religious beliefs.
Religious Beliefs In Malawi
44% of the entire population in Malawi are Protestant Christians. The country has experienced a rapid growth in Protestantism in recent times. The main aim of the churches is to bring out holistic growth in which Christians are committed to both the church and making a difference in their country and society.
Sunni Islam is the second largest religion in Malawi. It was introduced in Malawi by the Arabs and the Swahili traders during the barter trade of ivory, gold, and slaves. Traders from the Kilwa Sultanate and two other Muslim teachers played a significant role in its spread before the 19th century. Over the years, missionary work by Muslim groups has been done to promote the religion in Malawi. Mosques have been built in every town, Islamic schools and learning centers, and a Muslim broadcasting station. 19% of the country’s population adhere to this religion
Roman Catholic Christianity
The Roman Catholic Church in Malawi is part of the worldwide Catholic Church in Rome under the leadership of the Pope. Catholicism was introduced in Malawi by the first Catholic missionaries in 1889. Five years after the arrival of Catholicism in Malawi, three mission stations were permanently set up to enhance its spread. The first Malawian priest was ordained in 1938 by the white fathers. Roman Catholics comprise 18% of the nation's total population.
Apart from Protestants and the Roman Catholics, there are other small denominations like Baptists, seven-day Adventists, Jehovah’s witnesses, and Anglicans forming 13% of the population. Several missionaries like bishops encouraged the spread of other forms of Christianity and translated the Bible into the Chichewa language. Under the rule of Malawi’s first president, Christianity was favored and several churches built.
Traditional Religions Still Practiced
Despite influences from the missionaries and Arab traders, 6% of the Malawian population still hold on to their traditional African beliefs that focuses on belief in a supreme being, spirits, veneration of the death, use of magic as well as traditional witchcraft.