Culture: The Nyau Cinema of Samson Kambalu

The Nyau Cinema of Malawian artist Samson Kambalu is his approach of reconnecting with art and expression of the philosophy of the Nyau from Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Samson Kambalu’s crosses over his knowledge of Nyau Culture ‘Creative play’ with different forms of art and culture practices world over. Coming from a culture that is shrouded in Mystery, his works like the holy balls speak quite well to the influence of the symbolic meanings that are prevalent in Nyau Culture.

Nyau which is not only isolated to Malawi, is prevalent in both Zimbabwe and Zambia. With the movement of the nyanja people of Malawi between these two countries, mostly to settle in small farming or ming areas, it has become a practise that is localised by the descendants of the first migrants and is passed on from parents to children.

For most young people, this practise is shrouded in mystery and magic. Even my memories of the Nyau as a young girl, are filled with terrors, as they for me represented the modern boogeyman. 

But in its own way, this Nyau culture is but one of the few prevailing old practices that has managed to remain in Sourthen Africa even after colonisation. It stands in mystery as a symbol of the traditions of the past and a reminder of the knowledge that has been lost in Africa.


Samson Kambalu about his participation in the Biennale Arte 2015 in Venezia/Italy.

Samson Kambalu’s Runner Video

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A writer, a designer, a thinker, a lover, a fighter, a curious person of sorts.

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