chapter  14
11 Pages

HIV/AIDS and a Return to Traditional Cultural Practices in Malawi

WithGregory Kamwendo, Olex Kamowa

Malawi, a landlocked country and one of the poorest in the world, is located in the eastern part of southern Africa and shares borders with Zambia, Mozambique, and Tanzania. Discussing acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) transmission in Malawi cannot be divorced from discussing sex because in Malawi, as in most African countries, AIDS is mainly transmitted through sexual intercourse. The traditional societal ban on premarital sex no longer exists. The current cultural atmosphere seems to be so relaxed that premarital sex is no longer considered a cultural anomaly. In some parts of Malawi, arranged marriages for very young girls are still fashionable. Such girls have no way to reject the imposed spouse. Among many tribes of Malawi, especially the Chewa and Ngoni, there is a custom of wife inheritance known as Kulowa, Chokolo, or Kuhara. In Malawi, the group most hit by AIDS is in the age range of fifteen to twenty-nine.