Historical Moments of Malawi

Every known tribe in the world once had a name it was called before circumstances had to happen for a new name. Malawi wasn’t left out. Malawi was derived from the word Maravi which means ” Flames”.


In the late 15th century, A dynasty in the Maravi Empire was created by the Amaravi people, who later became known as Chewa( meaning ” foreigner” ). Who moved to Malawi from the region of the modern -day Republic of Congo to escape unrest and disease. The Chewa attacked the Akafula, whom no longer exist.

After the migration to Malawi, The Maravi Empire stood ground on the southwestern shores of Lake Malawi. (Which was later discovered in the present age that Early humans actually inhabited the Lake Malawi 50,000 to 60,000 years ago through a hominid jawbone that was discovered between 2.3 and 2.5 million years old near Uraha Village in the year 1991) .

During the expansion , A leader was choosen to represent and rule the Empire. The name given to the leader is Kalonga (Karonga). The Kalonga had an headquarter in Mankhamba where matters where addressed and sub chiefs were appointed to occupy the new areas.

In the 18th century, There was a diaster in the empire that almost lead to the fall and possession of power in the Maravi Empire. Fights among the subchiefs and growing slave trade almost lead to the fall of the Maravi Empire in the 18th century.

The diminution of The Maravi Empire, resulted to the entrance of powerful groups into the region of Malawi. In the 19th century, Among the groups that came, The people of Yao, The people of Angoni are the two main groups that can still be listed as the dominant tribes to successfully settle in the Maravi Empire.


The Angoni were part of a great migration, known as the Mfecane, of people fleeing from the head of the Zulu Empire, Shaka Zulu. The Mfecane had a significant impact on Southern Africa. The Angoni adopted Shaka’s military tactics to subdue the lesser tribes, including the Maravi, they found along the way.

Staging from Rocky areas, the Ngoni would raid the Chewa( also called Achewa) and plunder food, oxen and women. Young men were drawn in as new fighting forces while older men were reduced to domestic slaves and sold off to Arab slave traders operating from the Lake Malawi region. The Angoni migration into Malawi was led by their chief called Zwangendaba.


They were the second group to successfully dominate the settlement of Maravi Empire. The Yao were richer and more independent than the Makuwa. They came to Malawi from Northern Mozambique to escape from famine or conflict with the Makuwa people who were jealous of the Yao. Although, the migration which the Yao to leave is still unknown as more research is still going on.

The Yao, upon migrating to Malawi in the 1800s, soon began buying slaves from the Chewa and Ngoni. The Yao are recorded to have also attacked them in order to capture prisoners whom they later sold as slaves.

It was through David Livingstone the world learnt that the Yao were great slavers who were capturing the Mang’anja.

In 1859, livingstone recorded that he had discovered Lake Malawi. Within two years of the discovery of the lake Nyasa, Livingstone had to review his plans for colonising Malawi. He used the church to start the process of colonising the land.

The unknown intention of Livingstone was to colonized Central Africa. It was achieved by the state of the church resulting in the defeat of the powerful Yao and Ngoni Chiefs in the 1890s. The mission was later abandoned after the death of Bishop Mackenzie (Livingstone partner). The universities mission to Central Africa (U. M.C.A) shifted its base to Morumbala in Mozambique.


In the early 19th century, Different scenarios were used in describing the situation of the country. Exchange of power between the British and Malawi took place during this period.

In January 1915, John Chiembwe, a millenar pastor in South– Eastern Nyasaland, led an unsuccessful revolt known as the Chilembwe uprising, against the British rule. Soon, Chilembwe was killed, and many of his followers were executed.

A prominent name that runs in the mind of the people of Malawi is Hastings Banda. In July 1958, Dr Hastings kamuzu Banda returned to the country after a long stay in the United States, the United kingdom and Ghana.

On his arrival, he assumed the leadership of the NAC ( changed to Malawi Congress Party, MCP). He was arrested in 1959 and was sent to Gwelo prison for his political activities but released in 1960. Hastings Banda became prime minister on February 1 1963, with the British still in control of all the systems.

On the 6th of July 1964, Malawi became a fully independent country, colonized by the British.

In 1970, Hastings Banda was declared president for life of the MCP, and in 1971, Banda consolidated his power and was named president for life of Malawi itself. He was a dictator, and also an unjustified element who ruled the country in a bad way.

Many attempts were made to remove him from power but failed. His cabinet members, ex– minsters ( who he sent on exile) tried but failed. Some were killed, jailed for this reason. He was later deposed in 1993.

The country became a one party state rule having Hastings Banda as its first president after lots of deliberation on the issue.

The Source: Wikipedia

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