About Chichewa


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Chichewa is a Bantu language spoken in parts of Malawi, where it is an official national language along with English, and also in Zambia, Mozambique, where the language is known as Chinyanja, and Zimbabwe. Between 7 and 8 million people speak Chichewa.

More about Chichewa, also known as Nyanja
Nyanja is the Bantu language most often encountered by visitors in Zambia. It is widely used in much of the country, including the key cities of Lusaka and Livingstone. Nyanja is sometimes described as not being a language per se, but rather a common skill enabling people of varying tribes living in eastern, central and southern parts of Zambia and Malawi to communicate without following the strict grammar of specific local languages. In other words, like Swahili and other ‘universal’ languages, Nyanja is something of a lingua franca for Zambia.

Nyanja is certainly the official language of the police, and is widely used for administrative and educational purposes. About a million Zambians use Nyanja as their first language – mostly in the eastern and central areas of the country – and there may be double that number using the language in Malawi. Then there are around 330,000 Nyanja-speakers in Zimbabwe, and perhaps 500,000 in Mozambique. A total of approaching four million people in the subcontinent speak Nyanja as a first language.


Tikambe Chichewa