Script type
CreatorNolence Mwangwego
Time period
DirectionLeft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
LanguagesChewa and other Bantu languages of Malawi
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

The Mwangwego script is an abugida writing system developed for Malawian languages and other African Bantu languages by linguist Nolence Mwangwego in 1977.[1][2] It is one of several indigenous scripts invented for local language communities in Africa.[3]


About the creator

Nolence Moses Mwangwego was born on July 1, 1951, in Mwinilunga District in what was then Northern Rhodesia (now modern Zambia); his roots come from Yaphet Mwakasungula village in the area of Paramount chief Kyungu in Karonga District of the former Nyasaland (now modern Malawi).[4] He speaks and writes Chewa, Tumbuka, Kyangonde, English, French, and Portuguese. He is currently working as teacher of French at the French Cultural Center, in Blantyre.[4]

He was installed the headman of his village as Yaphet Mwakasungula IV on December 29, 1997. He is married to Ellen Kalobekamo and has four children.

Development and dissemination

The idea for a Malawian script came on November 10, 1977, in Paris, when Mwangwego discovered that there are various writing systems in the world, and thought that words meaning "to write" in Malawian languages were evidence that they once had a script of their own.[1][5]

The Mwangwego script was created in 1979, with additional symbols created up to 1997 by Mwangwego.[1][6][7] This was further revised until it was eventually finalised in 2003. The script was launched with significant publicity especially with an audience from Malawian Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Mr Kamangadazi Chambalo, was quoted as saying:

Mwangwego script is in itself history in the making. Irrespective of how it is going to be received by the public nationwide, the script is bound to go in the annals of our history as a remarkable invention.[1]

The first person to learn the script was Mwandipa Chimaliro;[1] ten other students that year learned the script as well who went on to teach others.[1] In 2007 the Mwangwego Club was formed whose membership is open to those that have learned the script. As of 2012, there were about 395 people using it. Only one book has ever been published using the script which is A Malawi Tili Pati ("Malawians, where are we?") by Nolence Mwangwego himself in Chichewa in 2011.[7][8] Mwangwego continues to hold public lectures and exhibitions in academic institutions and teach the script.

As of 2018, the script has not yet been recognised by the ISO 15924 standard;[9] however, the Script Encoding Initiative[10] is working to have it included and there is a proposal[11] to include its characters in Unicode.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Mwangwego Script -History of the script". Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  2. ^ "Nolwence Mwangwego". Archived from the original on 2018-06-21.
  3. ^ Unseth, Peter. Invention of scripts in West Africa for Ethnic Revitalization. In Handbook of Language and Ethnic Identity vol. 2, edited by Joshua Fishman and Ofelia Garcia, 23-32. New York: Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ a b "Mwangwego Script -The Inventor". Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  5. ^ Dobrovolny, Michelle (2010-11-26). "The Politics of Malawi's Alphabet". Speak Magazine. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  6. ^ "Sites on Scripts and Writing Systems". Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  7. ^ a b Vossen, Rainer; Dimmendaal, Gerrit J. (2020). The Oxford Handbook of African Languages. Oxford University Press. p. 809. ISBN 978-0-19-100738-5.
  8. ^ "Mwangwego", Omniglot, retrieved 21 June 2018.
  9. ^ "ISO 15924 Alphabetical Code List".
  10. ^ "Welcome to the Script Encoding Initiative", Script Encoding Initiative, retrieved 21 June 2018.
  11. ^ "Preliminary proposal to encode the Mwangwego script in the UCS", The Unicode Consortium, retrieved 21 June 2018.
  12. ^ "Mwangwego", ScriptSource, retrieved 21 June 2018.