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Malawi religious beliefs are diverse in traditional religion, Christianity, Islam, and Hindu. Like many African countries many people in Malawi belong to a certain religious grouping. Malawi is a God-fearing nation. As such all state functions start with prayers by members of the clergy. National prayers are sometimes also organized during natural disasters such as when praying for rains during droughts. Issues of religion in Malawi are very popular among youths and adults. Many people have more trust in religious leaders than traditional and political leaders.
Christianity is the dominant religion in which case 86.9% of the population is Christians. Christianity in Malawi spread in the country by Europeans and Americans. The earliest Christian missionaries settled in the Northern region before they spread to other districts in the country. Travelling across the country one sees a lot of churches where Christians assemble for prayers.
While Christianity is the largest religion in Malawi, Islam in Malawi is the second largest religion in the country. Islam in Malawi comprises of 12.5% of the total population. Majority of Muslims are from the southern region of Malawi. Half of the total number of Muslims in Malawi is from two neighboring districts of Mangochi and Machinga. Arabs and Swahili traders brought Islam in Malawi. The remaining 0.6% includes people of the other religion and non-believers.
Traditional religion in Malawi is also practiced by different ethnic groups. The Chewa who forms majority of people in central region practice believes in Gule wamkulu. Gule wa Mkulu is a popular dance for the chewa people. There are reports that Catholics and Muslims who take part in gule wamkulu are removed from their faith groupings. Vimbuza is another traditional religion which people from the North practice. Vimbuza is popular among the Tumbuka people in Malawi.
The role of Religion in Development in Malawi
Religion plays a critical role in the development in Malawi.
Christianity in Malawi contributes to national development in areas such as education, health, and politics. There are many schools run by religious groups in the country. Some Christian schools are among the performing secondary schools in the country. Apart from running secondary school the faith group also runs several private colleges to offer tertiary education.
Faith groups also plays a role in health sector in such that they own several hospitals and health sciences colleges in the country. Government of Malawi subsidizes some medical services in mission hospitals which are found in many parts of the country.
The interfaith organization PAC represents all religions groups in the country they are to promote good governance, and human rights. Besides that faith groups also run different broadcasting institutions like radio and television.
Like other non-governmental organizations religious organizations are registered with the government. Constitution of Malawi prohibits religious based discrimination. It however, provides for freedom of belief, religion, thought, and conscience. In Malawi people with different religious beliefs stay together in the community, do businesses together, attend the same government schools, and work together.
National Public Holidays
People in Malawi observe Christian and as well as Islamic public holidays on some days. Christmas holiday is one of the religions holiday which is observe every year. Some other holidays are also observed in religious based educational system. For instance, catholic schools observe holidays in some days which are not celebrated by other faith based schools.