Watch this great video of Gule Wamkulu taken by
About this tradition
Gule Wamkulu was a secret cult, involving a ritual dance practiced among the Chewa in Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique.
Within the Chewa’s traditional matrilineal society, where married men played a rather marginal role, the Nyau offered a means to establish a counterweight and solidarity among men of various villages.
Nyau members still are responsible for the initiation of young men into adulthood, and for the performance of the Gule Wamkulu at the end of the initiation procedure, celebrating the young men’s integration into adult society.
Gule Wamkulu is performed in the season following the July harvest, but it can also be seen at weddings, funerals, and the installation or the death of a chief.
These figures perform dances with extraordinary energy, entertaining and scaring the audience as representatives of the world of the spirits and the dead. Gule Wamkulu dates back to the great Chewa Empire of the seventeenth century.
As a consequence, Chewa men tend to be members of a Christian church as well as a Nyau society.
Gule Wamkulu performances are gradually losing their original function and meaning by being reduced to entertainment for tourists and for political purpose.