Where is Malawi?

Malawi mapMalawi is a landlocked country in southeastern Africa. Malawi covers over 45,747 square miles, making the country roughly the size of Pennsylvania. Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa or Calendar Lake, is so large it takes up about a third of the country. The capital of Malawi is Lilongwe, which is also the country’s largest city.

Malawi was called Nyasaland until 1964. The present-day name Malawi, is said to derive from the Chichewa word malaŵí, which means flames. The country is nicknamed “The Warm Heart of Africa” because its people are so friendly.

Malawi has an estimated population of about 18,143,217 people. The official languages of Malawi are English and Chewa. There are also seven regional languages recognized in Malawi.

What is a Galimoto?

Galimoto (GAL-lee-moe-toe) means “car” in the Chichewa language of Malawi. Galimoto is the name used for a type of push toy that is moved with a long stick while a child is standing. Galimotos always have moving parts. These intricate toys are made by children to play with or for sale to tourists.


These two galimotos are from the Lam Museum education collection.

Children use any type of material that is available to create galimotos. For example, sticks, old telephone wire, packing wire, clothes hangers, car parts, plastic bottle caps, tin cans, cornstalks, corn cobs, and fabric are shaped into cars and trucks. However a galimoto does not have to just be a car or truck; it can be a bicycle, train, airplane, helicopter, or bird.

Galimotos are also made by children in other African countries like Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire.

Cote d'Ivoire toy car

This galimoto from Côte d’Ivoire is made of wood and shoe soles. It is part of the Lam Museum collection.

If you’d like to hear a wonderful story check out this video of Rebekah Wall reading the children’s book Galimoto.

Let’s make a Galimoto!

Warning: this activity requires adult supervision and help.

You will need:
Glue gun
Glue sticks
2 Popsicle sticks
3 Toothpicks
4 Plastic bottle caps
Something to punch holes in bottle caps
Plastic straw
Rubber band
Optional for decoration: decorative tape, markers to color popsicle sticks


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