Malawi's indigenous cultures did not stand a chance in the fluid interplay of Western culture and the so-called civilisation.
In countries such as Malawi, initial contact between Western culture-- meaning, in this case, the Christian missionaries-- has been complementary as well as problematic.
To begin with, the missionaries' work was complementary in the sense that their aesthetic acts brought about health guarantees.
At one point before Quinine became part of the arsenal against malaria, to have malaria meant having an unsolicited appointment with death. Malaria was a death sentence.
But not completely a death sentence, of course, for, traditionally, Africa has had natural remedies to malaria. You talk of avocado leaves You talk of bluegum leaves heated in a pot. A patient who inhales the hot air has always had relief from malaria. It is like malaria's parasites dissolve in the vapour, head for the clouds, and becomes tomorrow's rains.
The beauty of African medicine, you may say. The only problem could have been that African malaria drugs did not cure quickly enough, but that is talk for another day.
Going very quickly to the problems associated with contact between the Western missionaries and African traditions, the missionaries' disdain for gulewamkulu explains it all.
Gulewamkulu had subtle but clear messages, and the missionaries did not like it. They called it evil and those who converted to Christianity quickly abandoned gulewamkulu and embraced the gospel.
In so doing, they left their rich past behind. A past they had known for something they never knew.