The small kingdom of Kitwara that lay out to the Malawian
island - before Nyassa - had, along with other states,
participated in the extraction of gold, and had been ruled
by the Monomotapa in Zimbabwe. The decay of this hegemony
allowed the Chawas to expand their territory, just to see it
reduced as the Changamira Roots restored Zimbabwe's rule.
Around 1835 the expansion of the Zulus had pushed the
ngoni-ndwandé people down to the shore of the lake. It gave
rise to the subsequent 60 years of war between the ngonians
and the allied peoples chewa and yaó. The country had been
explored by Livingston in 1859, and in 1890 was subjected to
yet another occupation attempt, this time from Portugal
page. However, it was fended off following an ultimatum from
the English government. The colonial power wanted to reserve
the area to realize its project of uniting Egypt with South
Africa through an unbroken chain of colonies. In 1891,
England established via the English South African Company -
created by Cecil Rhodes - a patronage in the area, later
the British project was to establish a Central African
Federation to include today's Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia -
based on the area's climatic and ethnic common features. The
lands consist of highlighters, savannas, dry forests and a
population with Bantu background. Politically speaking, the
implementation of the project would have meant that the
racist white rule that was already a reality in Southern
Rhodesia would be extended to the entire federation.
In the same way as the UNIP in Zambia, the Malawi
Congress Party (MCP) presented an alternative to
independence and presented Hastings Kamuzu Banda - a doctor
trained in the United States - as "national savior".
To avoid internal divisions, Banda's demands were
accepted to give the party greater authority. When the
colony became independent in 1964, Banda's control of the
party and the country became autocratic. The President
established close economic and diplomatic relations with the
racist governments of South Africa, Rhodesia and the
Portuguese colonial administration in Mozambique.
South Africa became the main buyer of Malawian tea and
coffee, and with its investments roads, railways and the new
capital were built, while South Africans managed the
national carrier, development and information services, and
a significant portion of the state apparatus.
Mozambique's independence in 1975 radically changed
Banda's political panorama. Until then he had worked
actively with the Portuguese on the persecution of FRELIMO.
The closure of the Mozambique -Rhodesia border led to a
drastic reduction in trade between the latter and Malawi,
and further deprived Ian Smith of the Rhodesia government of
one of its means of breaking the international blockade.
In June 1978, the first elections were held in 17 years.
All candidates should belong to the MCP and undergo an
English exam, which excluded 90% of the population who do
not speak this language at all.
The independence of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) in 1980
led to further changes in Malawi's economic and diplomatic
situation. Banda lost its direct communication with South
Africa, to which Malawi continued to have very close
economic ties. Against this background, the Lilongwe
government began to approach the Frontline States and joined
the SADCC collaboration - due to the rail links passing
through both Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Domestic politics strengthened the independence of
Mozambique and Zimbabwe's Malawi Socialist League (LESOMA).
This party advocated severing economic and political ties
with South Africa, ending the dictatorship and democratizing
the country. The party created its own guerrilla forces in
1980. At the same time, the Movement for Malawian Freedom (MAFREMO)
led by Orton Chirwa won. In 1983, both Chirwa and Attati
Mpakati - the leader of LESOMA - were sentenced to death for
rebellion and conspiracy. Mpakati was killed by South
African agents shortly after a visit to Zimbabwe's capital
Harare. Chirwa and his wife were abducted in Zambia, where
they were living in exile, and jailed in Blantyre.