Malawi History

Malawi History

Before Bantu speaking peoples from around the 6th century AD. began to colonize the area of ​​what is now Malawi, presumably smaller groups of a people related to the San lived there. The Kingdom of Maravi, whose center was south of Lake Malawi, came into being in the 14th century. This kingdom also contains records of Portuguese travelers who advanced from the east coast of Africa to Lake Malawi in the 16th century. From around the middle of the 17th century, Arab and Portuguese slave traders invaded the Banturich and began to kidnap the population. Whole regions were depopulated, the empire disintegrated.

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In the second half of the 19th century, Scottish missionaries settled in what is now Malawi and founded several settlements (eg Blantyre). The British African explorer David Livingstone, who discovered Lake Malawi and explored the surrounding area in 1859, had reported and accused the effects of the slave trade on the local population.

The missionaries were followed by traders and settlers, and after concluding several “protection contracts” with local chiefs, the area became a protectorate of the British crown in 1891 under the name “Central Africa”. A short time later, British troops managed to finally drive out the slave traders. The white settlers started to set up large plantations on which mainly tea, sugar cane, tobacco and coffee were grown. In 1907 the protectorate was renamed “Nyassaland”.

An uprising by the black population against the British colonialists was put down in 1915. In 1944 the “Nyassaland African Congress” (NAC) was founded to represent the interests of black people. When Njassaland was merged with North and South Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe) to form the “Central African Federation” in 1953, the dissolution of the federation was one of the most important goals of the NAC. In February 1959, after unrest and uprisings put down by the Federation’s troops, leading NAC representative Hastings Kamuzu Banda and several members were arrested and the NAC was officially banned. Just a few months later, the NAC was founded as the “Malawi Congress Party” (MCP). After his release in April 1960, Hastings Kamuzu Banda again took the leading role in the party.

In 1963 the Central African Federation was dissolved and Njassaland was granted internal autonomy by Great Britain. According to AbbreviationFinder, the MCP won the majority in the first elections, and Banda became the country’s first head of government. In July 1964 Njassaland was released under the name Malawi, the form of government was from July 1966 a presidential republic. Banda of the MCP was, according to the new constitution, head of state, head of government and commander-in-chief of the armed forces in one. He declared the MCP a unitary party and banned opposition parties. His foreign policy course was oriented towards the West, but came under international criticism when in 1968 he was the only African country to recognize the apartheid government of the Republic of South Africa and establish diplomatic relations.Instead of the hoped-for economic upturn, Malawi fell into isolation and was particularly hostile to the black African “front states”.

In 1971, Banda became president for life. His authoritarian leadership style was underpinned by strict press censorship and the secret police he set up. Political opponents and intellectuals were arrested or disappeared. It was not until the early 1990s that Banda had to bow to increasing domestic and foreign pressure and agree to a referendum on the future form of government. The “Alliance for Democracy” (AFORD) and the “United Democratic Front” (UDF) had formed as opposition parties. At that point, the drought continued to worsen the economic situation of Malawi’s population: in 1991, it hadn’t rained in the region for almost two years, destroying almost three-quarters of the crop.About 80% of the residents lived in extreme poverty. In 1992 the situation worsened due to the influx of refugees from neighboring Mozambique.

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In 1993, the majority of Malawi’s population voted against the continued existence of the one-party system in a referendum. A transitional constitution and a joint executive body made up of AFORD, UDF and MCP prepared the new elections, which took place in mid-1994. The UDF under Bakili Muluzi won 85 seats in parliament, the former ruling party MCP 54 and AFORD 35 seats. Muluzi was sworn in as President. In May 1995, Malawi’s new democratic constitution entered into force. In the presidential elections in May 2004, the government candidate, the economist Bingu wa Mutharika, won. He was re-elected in 2009. After his death in April 2012, the previous Vice President Joyce Banda followed. Peter Mutharika, the brother of ex-President Bingu wa Mutharika, has been President of Malawi since May 2014.

Despite democratization, the life situation of the Malawi population has not improved; Malawi is still one of the poorest countries in the world.

Malawi President