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Malawi Old History

 

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 Malawi.

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.

  • AbbreviationFinder.org: 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 work.

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.

Old History of Malawi

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.

2012

October

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.

May

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.

April

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).

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.

February

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 resign.

 
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