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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #29 of 54: Madagascar | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #31 of 54: Mali »

July 23, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #30 of 54: Malawi

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) ---
Flag of Malawi

Formal Name: Republic of Malawi.

Term for Citizens: Malawians.

Capital: Lilongwe. Population: 523, 000.

Independence Achieved: July 6, 1964, from Britain.

Major Cities: Blantyre, Population: 2,000,000.


Malawi is in South Africa. It is bordered by Zambia, Mozambique, and Tanzania. Malawi is about 45, 749 square miles. It is about 560 miles in length but about 50-100 miles in length. The Great Rift Valley is in North Malawi. Lake Malawi is also in the north. The region around lake Malawi is rolling grassy plains. The soil is fertile and is heavily cultivated. The climate is tropical; three seasons are recognizable. Warm days and cool nights, May to August, hot September through November and rainy December through April. Average rainfall is 50 inches annually, although there are areas with over 120 inches of annual rainfall.


The population of Malawi is estimated at 12, 105,000.

Ethnic Groups:

The major ethnic groups are: Ngonde, Tumbuka, Tonga, Chewa, Yao, Ngoni, Sena, Lomwe, Nyanja and Swahili Arabs.

Languages: each of the ethnic groups speaks its own language. English is the official language.

Religion: Christians 80%, Indigenous and Islamic beliefs make up the rest.

Education: universal free primary education. Literacy rate is estimated at 62.7%.

Economy: Subsistence agriculture dominates the economy. GDP estimate: $7.2 billion; Per Capita GDP: $670. Monetary Unit: Kwacha (MWK).

History and Government:

Malawi was a British colony. In the 19th century it was called the British protectorate of Nyasaland. Upon independence from Britain, Malawi inherited British form of parliamentary democracy. However, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda and his party quickly transformed Malawi into a one party, personal rule. The death of Banda saw the return of some democracy in Malawi. Today, many political parties exist in Malawi, each vying for the opportunity to govern the people. The president tends to be stronger than the other branches of government. The country is divided into three regions and 26 districts. The head of state is an elected president.


The original people who lived in Malawi were Khoisan/Bushmen. Bantus, migrating from West Africa, eventually entered the area and constitute the majority of the inhabitants of Malawi.

Malawi is in interior Africa and was not a stopping ground for Europeans trading with India. However, Arab traders appeared to have been in Malawi buying slaves.

In 1859 David Livingstone explored Lake Nyasaland, now Lake Malawi. In 1891 the British made the area a protectorate, the protectorate of Nyasaland.

In the 1950s, Nyasaland was joined with the protectorates of Northern and Southern Rhodesia. In the meantime, this was the era of nationalist struggles for independence. Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda came back from his extended stay in America and Britain and joined the struggle for Malawi’s independence. His party, Malawi Congress Party, MCP, became the dominant party and won the pre-independence elections.

In 1963 Malawi became independent and Banda became the prime minister and in 1965 Malawi became a republic and Banda became its president.

Mr. Banda proceeded to ban all other parties and transformed his own party into an instrument for personal rule. Mr. Banda ruled Malawi as a one man autocrat.

In the 1990s, there was clamor for democracy in Africa and Banda was pressured into the train and amended the constitution and permitted multi political parties to compete in elections. In 1994 Mr. Bakali Muluzi and his United Democratic Front swept into office. Mr. Bakali Muzuli was reelected in 1999. In 2005, barred from competing for a third term, his party, under Bingy wa Mutharika, won the presidential election.

In 2005, Mr. Mutharika had a falling out with his UDF party and is currently ruling without it.

On the surface, the apparatus for democratic governance seem in place in Malawi: a National Assembly, a Senate, an elected President, and a judiciary.

The country is divided into three regions, which are further subdivided into 27 districts; 137 traditional authorities and 69 sub chiefs.

Malawi is dependent on agriculture, which accounts for 87% of all employment. The industrial sector is beginning to take some root but is so insignificant that it might as well not be mentioned. Malawi asks for foreign Aid, without which she would be in worse shape than she already is.

Posted by Administrator at July 23, 2006 03:17 PM


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