Human early relatives are believed to have
lived where Malawi is today, two million years ago.
Archaeologists have found traces of approximately
100,000-year-old settlements on the shores of Lake
In the late 16th century, the area was inhabited by
the Maravi people, whose heyday culminated in the late
16th century. It is Maravi's empire that has given its
name to today's Malawi. After the Maravi, smaller groups
of Tumbuka, Chewa and Manganja people took turns in
power. During the 19th century, the Ngoni and Yao
immigrant groups came from the south. Many of them were
fleeing from slave hunters.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Malawi, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
During the second half of the 19th century, the
British colonization of the area began, at the same time
as Christian missionaries began to establish themselves
there. In 1891 it became a British protectorate, which
in 1907 was named Nyasaland. To gain full control of the
territory, the British used old rivalry between the
various peoples living there and the small kingships
created by ngoni and yao. A large number of Europeans
eventually settled in Nyasaland and created coffee
plantations, for example, where they forced Africans to
In 1915, the local population rose against the
colonial power in a revolt, the so-called Chilembwe
rebellion. The revolt was fought and more blacks than
whites were killed, but the uprising became a symbol of
the fight against white colonial rule. In protest
against the colonial power, several domestic political
organizations were founded, including the Nyasaland
Congress Party (NAC) which was formed in 1944.
The British merged Nyasaland in 1953 with the
colonies of Northern Rhodesia (today's Zambia) and
Southern Rhodesia (today's Zimbabwe) in a federation to
strengthen the white colonial power. This aroused strong
opposition from the burgeoning independence movement
with NAC at the forefront. The movement, which had been
relatively conservative from the beginning, eventually
became dominated by young radicals.
The leader of the independence struggle, however,
became the conservative Hastings Kamuzu Banda. He lived
abroad for many years but maintained close contact with
the NAC. In 1958, Banda returned to his home country and
was elected party leader for the NAC the same year.
Resistance to the British now grew in strength and led
to a series of rebellions.
The British banned the NAC and imprisoned several of
its leaders. Instead, the dissatisfaction was channeled
through the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) formed in 1959.
Faced with the prospect of being forced to maintain arms
control, Britain chose a peaceful solution. Opposition
leaders were released and in 1961 free elections were
held. Two years later, the area gained internal
self-government and Banda was elected prime minister.
Laws against homosexuality repealed
The president decides to repeal the law prohibiting homosexual acts. The law
should not be applied until Parliament debates a proposal to amend the law. The
decision meets certain aid donors in the West who threatened to withdraw their
support if the law is not changed. But among the Malawians themselves in general
have a conservative view of homosexuality, and the decision is criticized by
both church and traditional leaders.
The value of the currency is written down again
The country's currency is devalued in an attempt to meet the International
Monetary Fund, the IMF, which has long called for such reform to resume its
support for the country. The value of the currency is written down by a third
and the link to the US dollar is abandoned. The devaluation triggers the
hoarding and shortage of goods in the cities.
President Banda supports the ICC
Banda breaks with her predecessor's policy when she declares that she does
not want Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to attend the African Union
summit in Malawi in July. Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal
Court, ICC, for war crimes and the court's member countries are therefore
obliged to arrest him if they have the opportunity. Banda's representatives had
previously ignored this obligation.
Mutharika dies; Banda becomes president
President Mutharika dies unexpectedly in a heart attack. He is succeeded by
Vice President Joyce Banda who dismisses Mutharika's brother Peter Mutharika
from the post of Foreign Minister along with some other ministers who were
believed to have been close to the deceased Mutharika. The dismissal comes after
rumors that some leading politicians had plans to have Peter Mutharika installed
as president instead of Banda. A few of Mutharika's most prominent critics are
offered ministerial posts, including Atupele Muluzi, son of the country's former
president Bakili Muluzi (see also 2012: March).
The ex-president's son is prevented from speaking
Atupele Muluzi, the son of former country president Bakili Muluzi, is
arrested after two days of political unrest in the capital. Muluzi hopes to
stand in the 2014 presidential election, and the unrest erupted when the tear
gas police stopped Muluzi from speaking. The action prompted Muluzi's supporters
to burn down a police station and attack individual police officers' houses.
Presidential critic gripped
The country's former justice chancellor Ralph Kasambara is jailed when he
turns to the police to report an attempted assault on his office. Kasambara is
one of President Mutharika's harshest critics. In a newspaper interview before
the arrest, he had accused the president of being dictatorial and urged him to