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Malawi is a country rich in the different cultures of its diverse population. One of the most unique and interesting cultural events that attracts a lot of interest from tourists and Malawi citizens alike is the Gule Wamkulu. The Gule Wamkulu is performed by the Chewa and Mang'anja tribes and is associated with heavily carved masks, feathers and skin paint. It is an important event in Malawian culture.Gule are considered to be in ‘animal state’ when they are dressed in such attire, and are not to be approached. The word Gule Wamkulu is also referred to “Chilombo” thus people run away upon sight.
Gule wamkulu kapoli    

Generally, it is best to avoid Gule in informal situations. In their animal or ancestral state, they are unpredictable. Gule Wamkulu”, literally meaning “big dance”, have become a sort of title for secret societies of traditional Chewa religious practices. The Gule Wamkulu ceremonies consist of formally organized dances to admire the remarkable physical abilities of these individuals – considered to be adept at their dance as a result of their spiritual state. Informally, Gule Wamkulu, or “Gule” is a term associated with anyone who participates in the rituals of these secret societies. This is seasonal and usually happens in July. The Gule themselves are initiated through formal ceremony into this society. If one has the misfortune of passing a Gule on the road, traditional behavior consists of dropping a few coins for the Gule – never handing them the money directly for fear they will grab you and take you to the cemetery for ritual purposes.

The harmonies and melodies in Gulewankulu have always fascinated ethnomusicologists and anthropologists as there is no specific musical construction and annotation. It has proved to be difficult to transcribe and annotate this music using the western musical elements of writing music.

Gulewankulu has a number of characters which include:
Namalocha, Kuipakuombola,Gandali, Chimbano, Dzimwe, Chinkhombe, Mayino, Chadzunda, Maria, Chilembwe, Nyolonyo, Makanja, Nyamandondo, Mwamuna wa chilonda, Kan’gwin’gwi, Mkango, Njobvu and Kasiyamaliro among many others.



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