Famous Yawos


  • Ali, Aires – former Prime Minister of Mozambique (16 January 2012 to 8 October 2012)
  • Banda, Joyce, former President of Malawi (7 April 2012-31 May 2014) and former Vice President of Malawi (2009-2012). Previously Minister of Women, Gender and Social Welfare.
  • Chikwenga, James 
  • Chilembwe, John (1871 – February 3, 1915) U.S. trained Baptist minister and early leader of the independence movement in Nyasaland (now Malawi). Celebrated as a hero in Malawi with an annual national holiday in part for an unsuccessful uprising against colonial rule.
  • Chipembere, Henery Masauko
  • Daudi, Dr. Andrew, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture. From Namwera, Mangochi District.
  • Iron, Josephy of Mpondas village, Mangochi District, served as Inspector General of the Malawi Police Service
  • Kumtumanje, Gomile 
  • Makata, Lawrence, representative of Nyasaland in the failed federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland
  • Mtewa, Dr. Meke
  • Muhamed, Dr. Imrane Sharif, Lecturer, University of Malawi’s Chancellor College. Dr. Sharif Muhamad also served as Secretary General, Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM). From Namwera, Mangochi District.
  • Mussah, Kapichira
  • Muluzi, Bakili (born March 17, 1943) former President of Malawi from 1994-2004.
  • Nakanga, Wenham
  • Omar, Dr. Salumin served as an advisor to the late President Bingu Wa Mutharika on Islamic Affairs. He is from Namwera, Malawi.
  • Sangala, Twaibuformer Malawian cabinet minister (Minister of Health) who died under suspicious circumstances during President Banda’s regime
  • Sikawa, Dr. DanielLecturer, University of Malawi’s Bunda College of Agriculture. From Namwera, Malawi.
  • Stambuli, Dr. Kalonga was an advisor of former President Dr. Bakili Muluzi on Economic Affairs. He is from Chimbende, T/A Chowe, Mangochi. 



  • Abdallah, Yohanna, first Yawo Anglican priest and scholar who died in the early 20th century. Most famous for his history of the Yawo people: Chiikala cha Wayao which was translated by Meredith Sanderson and published in 1919 at Zomba, Malawi
  • Sheik Chibekete
  • Che Mbendu
  • Bishop Thomas Msusa hails from Iba village in T/A Katuli, Mangochi District. He attended primary school at Kwilembe and Masongola Primary Schools. His secondary school education took place at Nankhunda Minor Seminary in Zomba and later studied the priesthood at St. Peter’s Major Seminary in Zomba. He became the Chief Priest at Mayaka Parish in Zomba under the Zomba diocese. Bishop Msusa went to Catholic University for Eastern Africa in Kenya for his Master’s Degree in Theology. For further education, he obtained his Ph.D in Rome, Italy and was appointed as Province Minister to the Vatican under Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania. He is the first Yawo Bishop in the Roman Catholic Church and worked under the Zomba Diocese.
  • Monsenior Josephy Kimu
  • Mufti Abidi Salom. First person to be awarded title of Mufti in Malawi.
  • Mufti Kassam Abasi of T/A Chowe, Mangochi District, Malawi. Second Mufti of Malawi.
  • Sheik Mkwanda of Bibi Kuluwunda’s village in Salima, Malawi was known to speak 14 languages.
  • Sheik Dinala Chalonlilea, founder of Islamic Information Bureau
  • Lali Lubani, founder of the Muslim Association of Malawi
  • Husein Mwalabu, chairperson for the Forum for the Defence of Islam in Malawi



  • Numerous generations of Mataka chiefs from Mwembe in modern-day northern Mozambique.
  • T/A Makanjira of Nyasaland (Malawi). One of the most famous Yawo chiefs during the slave trade who stood up to the British governmental system but was eventually defeated by Sir Harry Johnston’s army who opposed the trading of slaves. In exchange for slaves, the Portuguese and Arabs traded weapons. It is believed that Makanjira used traditional medicine in order to overcome his enemies. When driven away by Bandawe and his soldiers, he fled to Mozambique (Portuguese East Africa). To this day, Makanjira is famous for his use of magic konwn locally as chitega.
  • T/A Katuli was the first Yawo chief to rule a greater area between the borders of Malawi and Mozambique. In Malawi, he has made boundary with T/A Jalasi and T/A Makanjira as well as T/A Chowe and across the borders his aras is extended to Masangulu. He was chosen to pass judgments during the colonial rule in Zomba when the British government decided to give power to traditional chiefs whether to execute convicts found guilty of murder charges. He was known as the only Yawo chief in Mangochi who supported strongly the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) when other chiefs denounced Kamuzu’s government because of Moto village arrest and Masauko Chipembere.
  • T/A Tambala, originally of Mozambique, settled at Masuku area of Mangochi District in Malawi. He proceeded later to Dedza where he fought the Ngoni and Chewa tribes and settled in the midst of their homelands. He is known as the first Yawo chief to settle in the Central Region of the country in a place where they are not surrounded by other Yawo people. He was a follower of Islam and demanded circumcision among his male subjects. He was also famous for carrying a cock (chitundu) in a kraal as his magic weapon. This cock is believed to have protected him from his enemies and every one called him Che Tambala because of this practice. His village is known up to this day as ku Chitundu ku Che Tambala.
  • T/A Kumtaja of Blantyre, Malawi
  • T/A Mkalo of Chiradzulu, Malawi
  • T/A Kadewere of Chiradzulu, Malawi
  • T/A Mpama of Chiradzulu, Malawi
  • T/A Chikoni of Zomba, Malawi
  • T/A Kumtumanje of Zomba, Malawi
  • Bibi Kuluwunda of Salima, Malawi
  • T/A Chikumbu of Mulanje, Malawi
  • T/A Msamale of Balaka, Malawi



  • Achivanjila – “Queen”/”Bibi” of the Yawo – iconic Yawo woman who died in the 1920s and is known to have rescued other Yawo from the slave raids of one of the Mataka chiefs. Her grave exists as a monument  in present-day Majune district.
  • Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi (7 April 2012-31 May 2014) and former Vice President of Malawi (2009-2012). Previously Minister of Women, Gender and Social Welfare.
  • Mrs. Lemani (Nee Miss Namwera), Lecturer, Polytechnic, Blantyre, Malawi
  • Tujilane Chimzunmila, Ph.D. in Business Studies who worked with Reserve Bank of Malawi as Internal Finance Manageress. A wife to Collins Chimzumila.
  • Lilian Patel of T/A Jalasi in Mangochi District, Malawi. Member of Parliament for Mangochi South for 15 years. Held many ministerial posts during the time of Dr. Bakili Muluzi’s presidency including Minister of Health, Education and External Affairs. Married Mr. Roloff Patel, an Asian national (deceased).
  • Chief Kausinga
  • Mayi Patuma Ali, Mayi Sanudi and Mayi Manesi hailed from the Namwera area of Mangochi District, Malawi. They were popular during the Malawi Congress Party regime as dancers from Nkhwanzi Mbumba. President for life Kamuzu Banda was impressed with their skills. Though they were not educated, Kamuzu took them to England saying learning does not mean going to school only but also traveling. When you travel you learn new things you have never experienced in your life.



  • Swadick Sanudi of Ulongwe, T/A Msamala in Balaka District, Malawi. First choice Malawi National Football Team. Schooled at Mtaja CDSS in Machinga. Picked by Big Bullets when Mtaja CDSS beat Big Bullets Youth 5-1. Plays professionally in South Africa.
  • Affick Sikelo of Mangochi, Malawi. Footballer with Big Bullets for many years as well as National Team player. Now living in Chiromoni Township, Blantyre.
  • John Maduka of T/A Katuli in Mangochi, Malawi. Played with Silver Strikers and Malawi National Football Team for many years as midfielder. Now based in South Africa where he played professionally.
  • Hassan Mankhokwe of 6 Miles in Zomba, T/A Mulumbe, Malawi. Former goalkeep for Red Lions Football Club.



  • Tambala Chitenje of Mangochi, Malawi. Composer of “Tambala Chitenje” and “Soka”.
  • Wilson Makawa of Malawi living abroad in Zambia. Known for his song “Katukutu Sigela Jika”.
  • Gides Chalamanda of Njuli in Chiradzulu, Malawi. Composed “Chigalimoto Cha kwa America” and “Buffalo Soldier”.
  • Maurice Maulidi of Songani in Zomba, Malawi. Formed his group known as Songani Strings Stars and most famous for producing “Asakina Pikanani”.


  • Jack Mapanje(born 1944 in Kadango) is a Malawian writer and poet. He was the former head of English at the University of Malawi, and is currently a senior lecturer in English at Newcastle University.
  • James Chuma, Abdullah Susi & Jacob Wainwright were companions of Dr. David Livingstone. [see image]
  • Mungo Murray Chisuse, the “African photographer, Blantyre, Nyasaland” (as he referred to his photographic works) was one of the first African photographers on the continent. A contemporary and friend of John Chilembwe, his photograph of Chilembwe is what present day Malawian banknotes use to depict Mr. Chilembwe.

“M.M. Chisuse” lived at the Blantyre Scottish Presbyterian mission residence around 1880 and was educated under missionary David Clement Scott where he also worked as a ‘house boy’ from 1881. He traveled to Scotland in 1885 with Scott where he attended Stewart’s College in Edinburgh. Upon returning to Blantyre, he worked as a printer in the late 1870s. He published his Yao translation of part of Grimm’s Fairy Tales in the mission journal, Kalilo, in 1892. Five years later, he traveled to England where he received more training in printing works. He learned how to ride a bicycle while there (possibly one of the first Malawians to do so) and became familiar with the violin. By 1900 he began to become more heavily involved in photography in Nyasaland. He remained dependent on mission employment until he began to become involved with independent businessmen in the community when, in 1909, he became one of the founding members of the Natives’ Industrial Union. His photographic works became more prominent and his achievements are now a priceless treasure to present-day Malawi as so many historic figures from the early part of the 20th century were captured by his photographic skills. *information obtained from “Mungo Murray Chisuse and the Early History of Photography in Malawi” by John McCracken, Society of Malawi Journal, Vol. 61, No. 2 2008.

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