Tuesday, August 28, 2007

History of Malawi

History of Malawi. This is a brief history of the African nation of Malawi. The nation is young despite the rich history of the area.

The Encyclopædia Britannica notes, "Landlocked country in southeastern Africa. A country of spectacular highlands and extensive lakes, it occupies a narrow, curving strip of land along the East African Rift Valley. Stretching about 520 miles (840 kilometres) from north to south, it has a width varying from 5 to 100 miles and is bordered by Tanzania to the north, Mozambique to the east and south, and Zambia to the west. Lake Nyasa (known in Malai as Lake Malai) accounts for more than one-fifth of the country's total area. In 1975 the capital was moved from Zomba in the south to Lilongwe in a more central location."

From the site:

Hominid remains and stone implements have been identified in Malawi dating back more than 1 million years, and early humans inhabited the vicinity of Lake Malawi 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. Human remains at a site dated about 8000 BC show physical characteristics similar to peoples living today in the Horn of Africa. At another site, dated 1500 BC, the remains possess features resembling Negro and Bushman people.

Although the Portuguese reached the area in the 16th century, the first significant Western contact was the arrival of David Livingstone along the shore of Lake Malawi in 1859. Subsequently, Scottish Presbyterian churches established missions in Malawi. One of their objectives was to end the slave trade to the Persian Gulf that continued to the end of the 19th century. In 1878, a number of traders, mostly from Glasgow, formed the African Lakes Company to supply goods and services to the missionaries. Other missionaries, traders, hunters, and planters soon followed.

In 1883, a consul of the British Government was accredited to the "Kings and Chiefs of Central Africa," and in 1891, the British established the Nyasaland Protectorate (Nyasa is the Chichewa word for "lake"). Although the British remained in control during the first half of the 1900s, this period was marked by a number of unsuccessful Malawian attempts to obtain independence. A growing European and U.S.-educated African elite became increasingly vocal and politically active--first through associations, and after 1944, through the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC).

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