Etiquette

Malawi is not nicknamed 'the warm heart of Africa' for nothing; the locals are patient, accommodating and endlessly good humoured, and travellers should try to reflect these qualities in dealings with Malawians.

  • Malawi is a devoutly Christian country; prayers before meals are common in local homes.
  • Eating in people's homes, you will often be given a bowl and jug to wash your hands, and you will likely eat with your hands.
  • Away from the beach, women should cover their legs down to their knees.
  • When shaking hands with a village chief or elder, bend your knees slightly and place your free hand beneath your outstretched arm.
  • In this traditional society, take the time to exchange pleasantries with people before getting down to business.
  • Bureaucracy is rife, so be prepared to fill in the odd form and pay small administrative charges (which in most cases are not bribes).