The Chewa community has kept intact the practice of Chinamwali and Nyau practices.

Associated with many controversial claims, the Chewa community says most interpretations of these practices are due to ignorance.

A lot has been said and written about Chinamwali and Nyau initiations with some claiming they are devilish practices.

However, to the Chewa community in Matebeleland South, these practices are not only an epitome of their culture but also an antidote to moral decadence in the society.

A villager in Gwanda South, Mr Freddy Mzambili said Chinamwali does not only teach bedroom antics as is believed, but it is the hallmark of discipline and good morals that helps them to coexist with other community members.

Mzambili said boys are taught life skills expected of an African father, in essence the transformation from childhood to adulthood.

“The long-held Chewa tradition of Chinamwali has been misunderstood by many. Some interpretations contain a lot of falsehoods while others dabble in pure exaggeration. Chinamwali and Nyau are very important to us Chewas because they teach us life  skills and discipline. You are not afraid of your wife cheating or being troublesome because they are taught well,” said Mzambili.

Women claim the initiation made them better as they are assured of a happy marriage and a good moral bar in raising their children.

“I am a proud mother because my children were trained well, they know how to treat their husbands and to take care of their children,” said another villager.

“I was surprised to hear some saying we get circumcised at the hospital, us we were circumcised long back at ‘dambwe’ (the secret place for initiation, usually a graveyard),” said Bongali Mdala.

The government has set aside a week of celebrating cultural diversity in May, and it is hoped that mystery surrounding the Chewa culture is cleared through cultural events during such a period.