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State

Capital

Malawi

Lilongwe

Formerly Nyasaland

Currency unit

Malawian Kwacha

Connections

Central

East

Empire

Mozambique

 Politics

 Economics

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 Rights

History

A central African country with no outlet to the sea. (But it has two rail outlets to ports in Mozambique). It occupies the eastern Rift Valley where it deepens into Lake Malawi. The name comes from the capital of one of the Karonga peoples of the area and was first recorded by the Portuguese in the 17th century. Malawi was inhabited by peoples organized in village groups rather than kingdoms but by the mid-19th century there were influences, as in the rest of eastern Africa, which suggested the growth of larger kingdoms was about to begin. These were the arrival of slave traders and the Angoni peoples from Zululand. The slave traders had begun to give power to some peoples, such as the Yao around the south of Lake Malawi.

Malawi was distantly affected by the Mfecane in what is now South Africa. Some of the Ngoni peoples dispersed by the Zulus migrated as far north as Malawi (and some further, into Tanzania). Their migration finally ceased in 1870, fifty years after the disruption. At the same time the area was coming into the orbit of the slave trade. Slave traders from the coast had begun to operate in Central Africa, as they did further north in East Africa.

The British named the lake Nyassa, a misapprehension of the Bantu generic word for Lake.

British influence began from about 1858 when David Livingstone was appointed Consul from 1858 to 1863 for the Zambesi (that is a diplomatic representative not attached to a particular state) and traveled in Malawi during that period. His interest was in stopping the slave trade which was eventually ended when the Zanzibar market was closed in 1872. Christian Missions first appeared in 1861. Traders and planters followed so that by the time of the Berlin Conference Malawi already had a number of British residents. The British Protectorate which defined the borders of the country was declared in 1891.

From 1953 until 1963 Nyasaland was part of the colonial Central African Federation (with Northern and Southern Rhodesia). It was the demand for independence by Nyasaland which led to the break up of this federation.

Since independence in 1963 its most notable characteristic is that it was ruled by Dr. Kamuzu Hastings Banda who allowed no opposition to his rule, imprisoning and executing opponents.

He followed his own policy, maintaining good relations with South Africa (and previously with Rhodesia) despite the hostility of his neighbors and against the policy of the OAU. He also maintained somewhat eccentric internal policies, such as putting a large amount of money into an elite school whose main boast is that it teaches Latin and Greek. After he left office there were changes.

Languages

Bantu languages

ChiChewa

ChiNyanja

English

 History

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Politics

Previously a one party despotism under Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, said to have been born about 1898. Banda pursued an authoritarian rule since he was brought home from Britain, where he had been a medical doctor, by the nationalists in the Malawi Congress Party, hoping for an elder respectable front. He locked them up after securing independence from Britain. Like Stalin he preferred dictatorship to democracy.

In May 1992 riots seemed to foreshadow the fall of the regime. The real government may have been in the hands of John Tembo, his mistress's uncle. A May 1993 referendum voted for a multi party system, in effect against the dictatorship.

Banda was operated on for some kind of brain problem in October 1993. His death or incapacity appeared near. A provisional council was set up in which Tembo seemed to be the most important person.

Junior officers in the military then acted against the Young Pioneers, an armed force under the control of the Party. This appeared to be part of a struggle for the succession, to remove Tembo's armed supporters.

Elections were held on 17 May 1994. Banda was at last defeated (he died at the end of 1997, aged nearly 100).

Subsequent elections have been held, thus establishing the end to dictatorship but not necessarily of authoritarian government or of corruption.

Interesting reading

Jack Mapanje - Crocodiles are Hungry at Night

And Crocodiles are Hungry at Night
Memoirs of a former political prisoner under Hastings Banda

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

Economics

Tea. The economy is badly affected by the drought and the refugees from Mozambique as well as the late president's eccentric policies (and annexing of many of the properties and businesses to himself). Some western rightwing politicians praised the Banda regime for its moderation (dictatorship ) and economic progress. Alas, there was none (they meant that he was friendly to big western companies). Poverty was worse than in many countries.

Western and South African aid were cut off.

Structural Adjustment Program from IMF is causing the usual effects: cuts in public services, increase in poverty.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

Green/Ecology

Serious drought in 1992.

Serious soil erosion due to population pressure on the land. Banda banned birth control, as Ceausescu did in Romania.

Catastrophic rate of HIV infection (estimated one third of sexually active).

Another drought in all of southern Africa in 2005.

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Human Rights

Climate effects

Last revised 19/03/12


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