Safeguarding of Nkhonde, Tumbuka and Chewa proverbs and folktales

  • Financial assistance:
    • US$ 90,533 granted in 2015
  • Dates of implementation:
    • 30/06/2016 - 16/06/2017
  • Documents:

Benefitting country(ies): Malawi


The proverbs and folktales of the Nkhonde, Tumbuka and Chewa people of Karonga, Rumphi and Lilongwe Districts embody the knowledge, wisdom and culture in Malawi and function as vehicles for the promotion of their cultural values. However, transmission of this heritage is gradually weakening. Only a few members of these communities now transmit proverbs and folktales to their children and transcriptions of this oral heritage are practically non-existent. In response to this, the Malawi National Commission for UNESCO implemented a project, within the framework of the International Assistance mechanism of the 2003 Convention, to document these proverbs and folktales and in the process contribute to the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in Malawi. The project fulfilled series of accomplishments, from four researchers of the Oral Traditions Association of Malawi (OTAMA), six young research assistants and three technical assistants trained, to publishing a book of proverbs and folktales in three local languages (Kyangonde, Chitumbuka and Chichewa). The trained researchers and field assistants from the three communities worked together to identify and interview informants, thereby collecting 309 intangible cultural heritage elements (156 proverbs and 153 folktales) during the process. Documentations were also made in form of videos and are displayed in libraries nationwide for awareness purposes.

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