Traditional Kings and Chiefs in Malawi

Malawi is a landlocked country in Southern Africa formely known as Nyasaland. The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name for the Chewa people who inhabit the area. The country is nicknamed “The Warm Heart of Africa” because of the friendliness of its people. Malawi has many ethnic groups mainly bantu groups who have been organized into various monarchical ssyetems way before colonialism. Their monarchs are now mainly called Paramount chiefs, Senior chiefs or chiefs by the Malawian Government as recognized under the Chiefs actAn Act to make provision for the recognition, appointment and functions of Paramount Chiefs, Senior Chiefs, Chiefs, Sub-Chiefs, Councillors, Group Village Headmen and Village Headmen; and for certain aspects of District Administration and for matters incidental thereto or connected therewith . Some ethnic groups include;

  • Maseko Ngoni people
  • Jele Ngoni people/Mombela Kingdom
  • Yao people
  • Ngonde people
  • Tumbuka people
  • Lomwe people
  • Mang’anja people
  • Chewa people – has chiefs but King lives in neigbouring Zambia
  • Sena people
  • Nyanja people
  • Tonga
  • Lambya
  • Sukwa
  • etc

Ingwenyama Inkosi ya Makosi of Maseko Ngoni (Gomani)

Maseko Ngoni are an ethnic Ngoni group currently found in Malawi. They are descendants of Maseko, a Swazi who fled Mfecane wars in the south and settled in present day Malawi. The Maseko Ngoni are ruled by the Gomani dynasty monarchs who are titled Ingwenyama Inkosi ya Makosi (Lion King of Kings). Its most famous monarch was Inkosi ya Makosi Philip Gomani II who is honoured on the 50 kwacha note for his contribution to independence of Malawi from British colonials. Inkosi ya Makosi Willard Mswati Gomani V succeeded to the throne aged 17 years in 2012. Royal headquarters is at Lizulu, Ntcheu district

The lineage of the monarchs include

  • Ingwenyama Inkosi ya Makosi Ngwana – reign 1815 – 1832          
    • Regents Magadlela , Mgoola – regents 1832 – 1835
  • Ingwenyama Inkosi ya Makosi Maseko Mputa – reign 1835 – 1860               
    • Regent Cidiaonga – regent 1860 – 1878            
  • Ingwenyama Inkosi ya Makosi Cikusi – reign 1878 – 1891                                    
  • Ingwenyama Inkosi ya Makosi Gomani I – reign 1891 – 1896                              
    • Regent Mambeya Moyo -regent 1896 – 1921 
  • Ingwenyama Inkosi ya Makosi Philip Gomani II – reign 1921 – 1954  – is honoured on the 50 kwacha note for his contribution to Independence of Malawi from British colonials                
    • Regent Mambeya Moyo – regent 1954 – May 1966 
  • Ingwenyama Inkosi ya Makosi Gomani III Willard – reign May 1966 – 2006   
    • Princess Rosemary Gomani Maseko Malinki – regent 2006 – 21 Jun 2008                                   
  • Ingwenyama Inkosi ya Makosi Gomani IV Kanjedza Alexander  – reign 21 Jun 2008 – 19 Sep 2009  
    • Princess (also known as Indlovukazi or queen mother) Rosemary Gomani Maseko Malinki – regent 20 Sep 2009 –  5 Aug 2012                    
  •  Ingwenyama Inkosi ya Makosi Gomani V Willard Mswati – reign 5 Aug 2012 –  

Photos : Courtesy of The King and Queen, Israel Khalanga, Umhlangano 2022

Inkosi ya Makosi of Jele Ngoni (Mombela/M’mbelwa)

Jele Ngoni (colonially erroed as Jere Ngoni)/Mzimba/Mbelwa Kingdom are a Ngoni ethnic group who are descendants of Zwangendaba kaZiguda Jele Gumbi, a Ndwande military general of King Shaka of the Zulu. He fled the Mfecane shaka zulu wars with his people and settled in Mapupo South Tanzania where he established his Ngoni monarchy. After the death of Zwangedaba, the Ngoni split into five groups who can today be seen in Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania. The Jele Ngoni have continued their tradition of crowning their monarchs to date. Their monarchs are called Inkosi ya Makosi (King of Kings) with their most famous being Inkosi ya Makosi Mbelwa II who is honoured in the 20 kwacha note for his contribution in Malawian Independence from the british colonials. Royal headquarters is Edingeni at Mzimba district

The lineage of the monarchs include

  • Inkosi ya Makosi Zwangendaba a Hlatshwayo – reign 1815 – 1848
  • Regent Ntabeni – regent
  • Regent Mgayi – regent
  • Inkosi ya Makosi Gwaza Jere – reign 1857               
  • Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa I  – reign 1857 – 1891        
  • Regent Mwamba – regent 1891 – 1896               
  • Inkosi ya Makosi Cimtunga – reign 1896 – 1915               
  • Vacant – 1915 – 1928                
  • Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa II – reign 1928 – 1959               
  • Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa III  – reign 1959 – May 1983           
  • Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa IV – reign Feb 1984 – 12 Feb 2013    
  • Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa V – reign 16 Feb 2013 –             

Photos : Courtesy of The King and Queen

Chikulamayembe Themba la Mathemba of Tumbuka People

Tumbuka (also known as Nkhamanga kingdom) are an thenic bantu group found in northern Malawi, Southern Tanzani and eastern Zambia. They ae closely related to the Tonga people through their language. They are further subdivided into smaller sub tribes headed by chiefs but all under one monarch called Themba la Mathemba Chikulamayembe since 1795. Royal headquarters is at Rumphi

The monarchs include

  • 1st Chikulamayembe Gonapamuhanya 
  • 2nd Chikulamayembe Kampungu 
  • 3rd Chikulamayembe Pitamkusa 
  • 4th Chikulamayembe Bwati I (= Cayeka) 
  • 5th Chikulamayembe Bwati II 
  • 6th Chikulamayembe Bamantha 
  • 7th Chikulamayembe Mkuwayira 
  • 8th Chikulamayembe Mujuma 
  • 9th Chikulamayembe Chilongozi Mbawuwo Mgonanjerwa Gondwe – reign 1907 – 1931                                 
  • 10th Chikulamayembe Ziwange John Hardy Gondwe – reign 1931 – 1977               
  • 11th Chikulamayembe Walter Gondwe – reign 1977 – 2019
  • 12th Chikulamayembe Mtima Gondwe – reign 2019 – 2021 (son of Walter Gondwe, dethroned by court)
  • 13th Chikulamayembe Joseph Bongololo Gondwe – reign 2022 –                 

Photos : Chikulamayembe

Paramount Chief of Yao people

Yao are an ethnic bantu group found in southern end of Lake Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. The Yao had close ties with the Swahili on the coast during the late 19th century and adopted some parts of their culture, such as architecture and Islam, but still kept their own national identity. Their close cooperation and coastal trade with the Arabs gave them access to firearms, which gave them an advantage in their many wars against neighbouring peoples, such as the Ngoni and the Chewa. The Yao actively resisted the German forces that were colonizing Southeast Africa incluing the famous Maji Maji Rebellion.

Their senior most monarch is Paramount Chief Kawinga based at Machinga

Photos. Mana

Ntemi bwa Batemi Kyungu of Ngonde

The Ngonde (also called the Sokile, Ngonde or Nkonde or Nyakyusa ) are a Bantu ethnolinguistic group who live in the fertile mountains of southern Tanzania. Historically, they were called the ‘Ngonde’ below the Songwe River in British Nyasaland, and ‘Nyakyusa’ above the river in German territory. The two groups were identical in language and culture, so much so that the Germans referred to the Nyakyusa region above the Songwe River and its people as ‘Konde’, at least until 1935.

Kyungu is a traditional authority/Monarchy (Ngonde Kingdom) of the Ngonde people in Karonga District in the Northern Region of Malawi headed by a monarch called Ntemi gwa Batemi Kyungu. The current Ntemi gwa Batemi Kyungu is Paramount Chief Kyungu Nsangalufu Clement Mwakabanga III, who was a famous journalist back then

  • 1st Kyungu Mwenenkhonde – reign 1550
  • 2nd Kyungu Ngulube – reign 1550 -1580
  • 3rd Kyungu Lyambilo – reign 1580 -1610
  • 4th Kyungu Kameme Mwenembako – reign 1610-1640
  • 5th Kyungu Kyabala – reign 1640-1670
  • 6th Kyungu Shora Kiposa – reign 1670-1700
  • 7th Kyungu Mwakalosi Mwenitete – reign 1700-1730
  • 8th Kyungu Maghemo – reign 1730-1760
  • 9th Kyungu Kisyombe – reign 1760-1790
  • 10th Kyungu Mwenenguwe – reign 1790-1820
  • 11th Kyungu Mwafongo – reign 1820-1850
  • 12th Kyungu Gwazapasi Kalambo – reign 1850-1868
  • 13th Kyungu Mwabulambo – reign 1868-1870
  • 14th Kyungu Mwangonde – reign 1870-1875
  • 15th Kyungu Mpeta Mwakasungula – reign 1875-1888
  • 16th Kyungu Mwambelo – reign 1888-1894
  • 17th Kyungu Mwakabanga – reign 1894-1904
  • 18th Kyungu Fwangalubilo Mwangalaba – reign 1904-1932
  • 19th Kyungu Pitala Mwangalaba – reign 1932-1966
  • 20th Kyungu Stanford Mwanyongo – reign 1966-1967
  • 21st Kyungu Kapote Mwakasungula – reign 1967-1973
  • 22nd Kyungu Gibson Mwangolera Kyabala 1 – reign 1973-2006
  • 23rd Kyungu Lackson Mwanyongo Kyabala 2 – reign 2006-2011
  • 24th Kyungu Clement Mwakabanga Kyabala 3 – reign 2011-

Paramount Chief (Mwene wa Mamwene) of Lhomwe

Lhomwe/Lomwe are one of the largest tribes residing in Mozambique and Malawi, being the second largest tribe. The Lhomwes are largely concentrated in Chiradzulu, Mulanje, Phalombe, Thyolo and some parts of Blantyre and Zomba. They are organised under Mulhakho wa Alhomwe cultural association since 2007 which means gateway for the Alhomwe people. The group is headed by the paramount chief who is locally known as Mwene wa Mamwene. Senior Chief Kaduya succeeds Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa Laelo Costa Juma of the Lhomwe who died in 2019. However Mulhakho wa Alhomwe cultural association has rejected the new appointment.

late Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwe, Photos : Courtesy

Paramount Chief of Chewa Mang’anja people

The Mang’anja are a Bantu people of central and southern Africa, particularly around Chikwawa in the Shire River valley of southern Malawi.  Historically, Mang’anja are Chewas from the Southern region. They were called Mang’anja because they were involved in Ng’anjo (These were traditional furnaces used to fabricate household equipment like axes,knives and hoes). The Chewa overall King (Gawa Undi) is based in neigbouring Zambia

Paramount Chief Lundu of Chikwawa district is the current most senior traditional leader of Chewa in Malawi. Royal headquarters is at Mbewe ya Mitengo

Photos : Courtesy

Senior Chief (Inkosi) Kachindamoto

Cidyaonga lineage are chiefs of Maseko Ngoni and are descended from the Gomani dynasty. Senior Chieftainess Kachindamoto VII Theresa is the current Chief/Inkosi of Chidyaonga lineage of MasekoNgoni, Dedza district. Married with five sons and working as a secretary, she was chosen by the royal chiefs in 2003 to succeed Chief Justino Kachindamoto VI who had held the title from 1988 to 2001. She is famous for fiercely ending child marriages in her area and has been recognized by various organizations around the world for her work.


Photo; Nafarroako Gobernua

Chiefs act according to 2014

AreasParamount ChiefsChiefsSub-Chiefs
Southern Region
Nsanje District   
Section 1 Mlolo 
Section 2 Tengani 
Sub-Section 2A  Mbenje
Section 3 Chimombo 
Sub-Section 3A  Makoko
Section 4 Ndamera 
Section 5 Nyachikadza 
Section 6 Malemia 
Section 7 Ngabu 
Chikhwawa DistrictLundu  
Section 1 Nganu 
Sub-Section 1A  Masache
Section 2 Chapananga 
Sub-Section 2A  Ndakwera
Section 3 Makwira 
Section 4  Kasisi
Section 5  Katunga
Section 6  Masseah
Section 7  Ngowe
Thyolo District   
Section 1Nsabwe  
Sub-Section 1A  Thukuta
Sub-Section 1B  Mbawela
Section 2 Changata 
Sub-Section 2B  Kwetemule
Section 3 Kapichi 
Section 4 Nchilamwela 
Section 5 Chimaliro 
Sub-Section 5A  Nanseta
Section 6 Bvumbwe 
Section 7 Thomas 
Section 8 Mphuka 
Mulanje District   
Section 1Mabuka  
Sub-Section 1A  Laston Njema
Section 2 Chikumbu 
Section 3 Nthitamanja 
Sub-Section 3A  Juma
Section 4 Mkanda 
Section 5 Nkhumba 
Section 6 Nazombe 
Blantyre District   
Section 1 Lundu 
Section 2 Chigaru 
Section 3 Kunthembwe 
Section 4 Makata 
Section 5 Kapeni 
Section 6 Kuntaja 
Section 7 Machinjiri 
Section 8 Somba 
Chiradzulu District   
Section 1 Mpama 
Section 2 Nkalo 
Section 3 Kadewere 
Section 4 Nchemba 
Section 5 Chitera 
Section 6 Likoswe 
Zomba District   
Section 1 Kumtumanji 
Section 2 Mwambo 
Section 3 Chikowi 
Sub-Section 3A  Mbiza
Sub-Section 3B  Ntholowa
Sub-Section 3C  Ngwelero
Section 4 Mlumbe 
Section 5 Malemia 
Section 6 Mkumbira 
Machinga District   
Section 1 Liwonde 
Sub-Section 1A Sitola 
Section 2 Kawinga 
Sub-Section 2A  Mlomba
Sub-Section 2B  Chikwewo
Sub-Section 2C  Chiwalo
Sub-Section 2D  Ngokwe
Sub-Section 2E  Nkoola
Sub-Section 2F  Chamba
Section 3 Msamala 
Section 4 Kalembo 
Section 5 Nyambi 
Section 6 Mposa 
Mangochi District   
Section 1 Mponda 
Section 2 Nankumba 
Section 3 Jalasi 
Sub-Section 3A  Chowe
Sub-Section 3B  Mbwana Nyambi
Section 4 Katuli 
Section 5 Makanjila 
Sub-Section 5A  Namavi
Section 6 Chimwala 
Mwanza District   
Section 1 Dambe 
Section 2 Nthache 
Section 3 Simon Likongwe 
Section 4 Kanduku 
Section 5 Mlauli 
Section 6 Ngozi 
Neno District   
Section 4 Cheku Cheku 
Central Region   
Lilongwe District   
Section 1 Khongoni 
Sub-Section 1A  Mtema
Section 2 Chitukula 
Section 3 Chimutu 
Section 4 Mazengera 
Sub-Section 4A  Chitekwere
Section 5 Kalumbu 
Sub-Section 5A  Tsabango
Section 6 Chadza-Mkwenda 
Section 7 Chiseka 
Section 8 Kalumba 
Sub-Section 8A  Njewa
Section 9 Kalolo 
Section 10 Kabudula 
Section 11 Malili 
Mchinji District   
Section 1 Mkanda 
Section 2 Zulu 
Sub-Section 2A  Mduwa
Section 3 Mlonyeni 
Sub-Section 3A  Mavwere
Section 4 Dambe 
Dedza District   
Section 1 Kachere 
Sub-Section 1A  Chilikumwendo
Section 2 Kaphuka 
Section 3 Tambala 
Sub-Section 3A  Chauma
Section 4 Kasumbu 
Section 5 Kachindamoto 
Sub-Section 5A  Kamenya Gwaza
Dowa District   
Section 1 Dzoole 
Sub-Section 1A  Kayembe
Sub-Section 1  Chakaza
Section 2 Msakambewa 
Sub-Section 2A  Mponela
Section 3 Chiwere 
Sub-Section 3A  Mkukula
Salima District   
Section 1 Khombedza 
Sub-Section 1A  Mwanza
Section 2 Kuluunda 
Sub-Section 2A  Msosa
Section 3 Maganga 
Section 4 Karonga 
Section 5 Pemba 
Sub-Section 5A  Kambwiri
Section 6 Ndindi 
Sub-Section 6A   
Ntcheu DistrictGomani  
Section 1 Kwataine 
Section 2 Mambeya 
Section 3 Njolomole 
Section 4 Phambala 
Section 5 Mpando 
Section 6 Masasa 
Section 7 N’ganya 
Section 8 Makwangwala 
Section 9 Champiti 
Kasungu District   
Section 1 Kaluluma 
Sub-Section 1A  Simlemba
Sub-Section 1B  Maaanyanja
Sub-Section 1C  Chisikwa
Section 2 Mwase 
Sub-Section 2A  Kawamba
Sub-Section 2B  Chilowa Matambe
Sub-Section 2C  Njombwa
Section 3 Chulu 
Section 4 Santhe 
Section 5 Santhe Wimbe 
Section 6 Kapelula 
Nkhotakota District   
Section 1 Kanyenda 
Sub-section 1A  Kafuzila
Section 2 Malenga-Chanzi 
Sub-section 2A  Mponde
Section 3 Mwadzama 
Sub-section 3A  Mwansambo
Ntchisi District   
Section 1 Kasakula 
Section 2 Chikho 
Section 3 Kalumo 
Sub-section 3A  Nthondo
Sub-section 3B Chilooko 
Northern Region   
Karonga District   
Section 1 Kyungu 
Sub-Section 1A  Karonga
Section 2 Mwafulirwa 
Sub-Section 2A  Mwirang’ombe
Section 3 Kilupula 
Sub-Section 3A  Mwakaboko
Chitipa District   
Section 1 Mwenemisuku 
Section 2 Kameme 
Section 3 Mwenewenya 
Section 4 Nthalire 
Section 5 Mwaulambya 
Rumphi District   
Section 1 Chikulamayembe 
Sub-Section 1A  Mwahenga
Sub-Section 1B  Mwalweni
Sub-Section 1C  Mwankunikila
Sub-Section 1D  Chapinduka
Sub-Section 1E  Kachulu
Section 2 Katumbi 
Sub-Section 2A  Zolokere
Section 3 Mwamlowe 
Mzimba DistrictM’mbelwa  
Section 1 Mtwalo 
Sub-Section 1A  Sibande
Sub-Section 1B  Munthali
Section 2 Chindi 
Section 3 Mzikubola 
Section 4 Mabulabo 
Sub-Section 4A  Khosolo Jere
Section 5 Mpherembe 
Section 6 Mzukuzuku 
Nkhata Bay District   
Section 1 Musisya 
Sub-Section 1A  Mkondowe
Sub-Section 1B  Nyaluwanga
Section 2 Boghoyo 
Section 3 Mankhambira 
Sub-Section 3A  Mkumbira
Sub-Section 3B  Fukamalaza
Section 4 Kabunduli 
Section 5 Mkumpha 
Section 6 Timbiri 
Section 7 Fukamapiri 
Section 8 Malenga-Mzoma 
Section 9 Zilakoma 
Section 10 Malanda 


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