The spectre of colonialism hangs over every interaction between Malawians and white people. Direct rule is long over, but the cultural institutions and power dynamic are still there, even 48 years after the British left. I’m always aware of this, but usually it’s just a tiny nagging at the back of my mind.
One thing that brings it immediately to the forefront is trying to get someone’s attention. The only sure way to let them know you want them is to shout “Aise!” (or, equivalently, “Ayise!”).* That is, a Chichewa-ified version of “I say!” Every time I hear it I imagine a sunburnt Englishman with a mustache and a safari hat yelling for a servant to bring him a cocktail made with gin. So I pretty uniformly refuse to say it. This commonly prompts any Malawians near me at, for example, the bar, to shout it for me. Which is fine by me – it seems much more uncomfortable and colonial coming from a white guy.
*I have attempted to use “Yo” with limited success.