Nkhoma Synod and Gulewankule clash

A row has erupted in Kasungu between the CCAP Church and Traditional leaders with Senior Chief Lukwa and Chief Mwase accusing churches in Kasungu of trying to suppress the premier Chewa dance Gulewamkulu during installation and elevation of chiefs who are Christians.

Chief Mwase speaking when elevating Senior Group Mnyungwe and others at Tundulu

Chief Mwase speaking when elevating Senior Group Mnyungwe and others at Tundulu

But moderator for the Nkhoma Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbytery (CCAP), Reverend Dr Chatha Msangaambe said that if the chiefs have any grievances concerning the church it is better to voice them officially through proper channels to the church leadership and not on public functions.

“It is disappointing that Gulewamkulu which marks the climax of any Chewa cultural function is not allowed to perform when Chewa chiefs who are Christians are being installed or elevated. Elevating or installing a chief is a cultural function and all traditional performances are expected to take part but it is surprising that while other traditional dances such as chintali, chimdidi and others are accepted, the church does not allow Gulewamkulu to perform,” complained Senior Chief Lukwa.

Senior Chief Lukwa was speaking recently at a ceremony held to elevate Group Village Headman Mwesambuzi to Senior Group Village Headman Mwesambusa, whose actual name is Benson Kaniki, a dedicated member of the CCAP Church and a well known wealthy businessman in Kasungu Town, trading under the name Nangantani.

Lukwa explained that the trademark of Chewa culture wherever you go is Gulewamkulu, it is the backbone of Chewa culture, but if the church believe there are certain issues that need to be corrected they will look at them and see if it is possible to make some changes to suit the church.

“If there are issues with Gulewamkulu which the Church feel are not in accordance with the church doctrine, then they should tell us so that we see how we can correct those issues,” Lukwa begged the Church.

He told the church representatives at the ceremony that he and Chief Mwase are themselves Christians but they understand that culture must be allowed to play its role in society.

Speaking at the same function, Chief Mwase echoed sentiments expressed by Senior Chief Lukwa saying every tribe is known by its culture and if there is anything Chewa culture is known for, it is Gulewamkulu.

“To denying Gulewamkulu from performing at a cultural function like this one is just as good as denying ourselves that we are not Chewas by tribe because Chewa is Gulewamkulu and Gulewamkulu is Chewa,” observed Mwase.

And speaking the following day at another elevation ceremony of Group Village Headman Tundulu to Senior Group Village Headman Tundulu, Chief Mwase repeated his complaints as Gulewamkulu was also barred from being featured at the function because two of the chiefs were catholic.

“I see that the church is now infringing on our cultural rights and many of you are afraid of being excommunicated from your churches,” Mwase observed and threatened saying: “From now on I will be forced to travel with Gulewamkulu from my headquarters to perform at these functions because I am not happy here to have a cultural ceremony without the performance of Gulewamkulu.”

In response to the accusations by the two chiefs, Dr Msangaambe, moderator of the CCAP Nkhoma Synod explained in an interview that Gulewamkulu has brushed shoulders with the church from as early as 1930s up to now.

“There have been instances where the church and Gulewamkulu have directly clashed especially during funerals where Gulewamkulu have claimed that the dead person belonged to their occult and so they are there to conduct funeral ceremony for their member, we have been resolving such issues,” explained Msangaambe.

On the proposal by chiefs that if there are certain elements in Gulewamkulu which the church does not like, the church should point them out so that they can be corrected, Dr Msangaambe said that the chiefs could find it difficult because it is the very elements which make Gulewamkulu to be what it is such as the secrecy surrounding it, the belief they implant in people that Gulewamkulu are spirits of the dead which are invoked from the world of the dead, the teaching of slandering, the magic involved in certain cases, and the extreme cruelty in certain instances administered to outsiders who underrate or expose the occult.

He said the church teaching does not allow such behavior because it is sinful; it is against the Bible teaching which is the core of Christianity.

The moderator emphasized saying: “Gulewamkulu is not a mere performance such as Chintali, Ngoma and other dances, it is a kind of religion, the true members believe in so many things including that they can reach God through the spirits of their forefathers.”

He acknowledged that certain parts of Chewa areas nowadays do not regard Gulewamkulu in such serious terms as other areas. He gave examples such as most parts of Kasungu where Gulewamkulu can originate from nowhere and still perform without being disciplined.

In certain parts of Lilongwe and Dedza Gulewamkulu is a serious matter and a chief is regarded as head of Gulewamkulu such that when he or any member of the occult dies, it is Gulewamkulu that conducts the funeral ceremony just as for a Christian where the church takes charge when the member dies.

To reduce conflicts with Gulewamkulu leaders, when a village or group village headman  becomes a Christian renouncing Gulewamkulu, the church demands that they bring letters from Traditional Authority bearing testimony that the village headman had indeed favoured Christianity to Gulewamkulu.

He said he is happy that many members of Gulewamkulu since the introduction of Christianity have renounced their membership and have become staunch members of the church, some have indeed become pastors and are winning souls for Christ from the same occult they belonged before they had an encounter with Christ.

However, the moderator acknowledges that not everything about Gulewamkulu is bad. He said there is beautiful art in Gulewamkulu. He cited the artistic regalia of Gulewamkulu as being very exceptional, the beautiful singing, sweet drum beating and the dancing itself of Gulewamkulu.

Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :

Please share this Article if you like Email This Post Email This Post

More From the World

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Gawa Undi

Whenever I go to Kulamba ceremony we always start with a prayer before gule starts. This is because our Gawa is a stauch catholic. Who are these Nkhoma synods to point a finger at us when they were caught stealing USAID money live? They can’t even settle their differences with tribal Livingstonia because they are both tribalist christians . 95% of Malawian cashgaters are church going chriastians. Let our Chewa culture survive for the benefit of future generations.


Ntchito iyo


I this dance really big “Gule wankulu”? I doubt,,ovinawo they always look malnourished, after being swept by wind all night long….They even fought with achawa ku lilongwe at Chinsapo…..achawa atakwiya they went wild like a rabid dog digging nyau tombstones..mpaka pano anyau akangoona munthu wovala kanzyuri pamutu amathawa ngati apysereza ndiwo pamoto…funso langa ndilakuti: kodi mafumuwa akufuna atazipanga chimozi*2 ndi achisilamu? asilamu akamapanga mwambo wawo kaya pamaliro iwonso anyau azikhalapo?


Culture Vs Christianity KOMA KU NKHOMAKOOOOOOO//////


Gule wa Nkulu is not a tradition but its a Religion-Mpingo wa Aaron whats why Pakachitika maliro a Munthu wanyau mwambo amayendetsa okha. Bwanji Munthu amene amavina Ingoma akamwalira mmesa mwambo amayendetsa ndi a mpingo ngati munthuyo amapemphera, chimodzimodzi ndi magule ena onse kupatula Gule wankulu. Ampingo Sadalakwise pamenepa.

MIKE (mchewa weniweni)
MIKE (mchewa weniweni)

Ufumu ndi chikhalidwe, nde ngati palibepo gule wamkulu nde tikutaya chikhalidwe.
Chewas are associated with gulewankulu basi (nyau) palibe zosintha apa.
A tchalitchi akakana nde angosiya kupanga participate za ufumu..

I believe that the chiefs from Kasungu are not serious. There is no way the two can co exist as the two have different beliefs. Clearly, if your are Nyau follower then you are not a Christian. You can’t have both performing at the same ceremonies. As the Reverend has put, in Lilongwe rural, Gule wa nkulu followers would not tolerate chirstians to be performing in their midst. May be in Kasungu and in parts of Blantyre, Chikwawa, Monkey Bay, the practitioners of Gule wa Nkulu are not very strict. In Lilongwe rural and Dedza, I just do not see… Read more »
Only the Truth
The main problem with some of our traditions is that, though they look innocent on the surface, they have dark secrets and they are controlled by dark powers that also control the people that practice them. That is why its very difficult to convince someone who is practicing these traditions to leave them. Traditions like ‘kulowa kufa, bulangete la mfumu, fisi, nyau, witchcraft, zinamwali, etc, are good examples. Others are the traditions that almost every tribe in Malawi follows when there is death. In other tribes, for instance, individuals are forced to perform some secret rituals like exchanging clothes with… Read more »

Gulewakulu is not a mere traditional dance, it’s a cult. U can not claim to be Christian and a cult member in the pretext of gulewakulu at the same time.
If God be ur Lord follow Him, but if Baal then follow him [1KINGS 18;21]
These nyau people cause confusion in churches becoz they’re agents Satan. Tell them plainly either to choose Baal or God. GOD BLESS U ALL

Both christians and gulewankulu serve god although the manner of service differs. Both should be allowed to perform at a funeral function of a deceased who belonged to both of these religions. No one is right about a religion, and no one is wrong, and so barring one religion from performing at a function is being selfish and inviting trouble. Both of these religions should co-exist. After all, christianity is a foreign religion in the areas where gulewankulu is practiced – gulewankulu members are the owners of the land, let them practice their religion freely. I thought there is freedom… Read more »

You must be joking, Do you know Gule wa Nkulu? How can you say that they both serve God?

More From Nyasatimes