Lambya people

Not to be confused with Nkoya people.

The Lambya, also known as the Nkoya, are an ethnic and linguistic group based along the border of northwestern Malawi and in Mbeya Region, Tanzania. A minority also exists in Zambia. In 2001 the Lambya population was estimated to number 85,000, including 45,000 in Malawi and 40,000 (from a 1987 estimate) in Tanzania.


In Malawi, most are found within the traditional Authority Mwaulambia and Mweni Kameme.


The most common surnames for Lambyas include: Nyondo, Muyila, Kalagho, Malokotela, Sibale, Chizimu, Kayuni, Simengwa, Kapesa, Munkhodya, Panja, and among Kilembe.


The people speak Lambya (ichilambya). Nouns often start with 'i' or 'u'.

For further information on the language, and a short text ('The Hare and the Tortoise'), see the external link below to the Language Mapping Survey for Northern Malawi, p.62.


The people are very hospitable, usually they slaughter a chicken as part of welcoming a visitor. Most would be offended if a person refused to have a meal with them, if one insists that they are satisfied, the best approach is to eat very little. Complete refusal to eat their food might give them a picture that you are stingy so you yourself want them also to refuse to eat when they visit you or you suspect that they may have included medicine in the food (Ukukutegha).

It is cultural to quickly prepare ubughali, that is thick porridge made from maize flour eaten together withand <sic> relish, for a visitor so that they should replenish the energy. Normally food is eaten after washing hands from a common dish (elderly wash first in the order of age) all the participants will eat from the same plate. It is expected that the elder should stop eating where a small piece of food remains for the younger children at the table. Evening Left-overs are a delicacy the next morning especially when the relish is boiled beans. Lambya people also cherish gourd (akapale) soured milk.

External links

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