Our Foundation for Malawi

History of Friends of Africa

Malawi emerged as an independent state on 6 July 1964 from the British protectorate of Nyasaland. Malawi came under British colonial rule in 1891. In 1912, a number of black leaders founded the North Nyasa Native Association (NNNA). The NNNA tried to move, within the existing structures, for better living conditions for the contract workers on the plantations and in the mines.

In 1915, the evangelist John Chilembwe rebelled against British rule. The rebellion was crushed and Chilembwe was killed. Nevertheless, national consciousness grew among the population.

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Second World War

During World War II, the Nyasaland African Congress was founded by nationalists who sought self-government for Malawi. The NAC gained a large following and began to become radical. Soon the NAC was striving for an independent Malawi. On 1 August 1953, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi (Nyasaland) were merged into a federation (Central African Federation). In 1958, the Malawi National Congress (MNC) was founded by Hastings Kamuzu Banda. The NAC and the MNC strongly opposed the federation, which collapsed in 1963. In 1963, Malawi gained self-government with Banda as prime minister.

Malawi became independent

On 6 July 1964, Malawi became an independent state. Banda remained prime minister. In 1966, he declared Malawi a republic and became president. Shortly afterwards, all political parties except the MNC were banned. Banda became a dictator whose foreign policy was predominantly oriented towards the West. It was not until the 1980s that Banda concluded friendship treaties with neighbouring countries. For a long time, Malawi was one of the few countries to maintain ties with South Africa under apartheid. There was a brief crisis with Mozambique in 1988, when the latter accused Malawi of supporting the resistance movement in Mozambique.

Rebellion against President Banda's one-party system

1991 and 1992 saw protests against President Banda's rule and his one-party system. In June 1993, the population voted by referendum to abolish the party system. Not much later, several parties were legalised.

The United Democratic Front (UDF) became the leading party. President Banda was defeated in 1994 by UDF candidate Bakili Muluzi. In mid-May 2004, Bingu Wa Mutharika was elected president.

Malawi in one of the poorest countries in the world

The absence of minerals, the lack of a sea port, the traditional focus on the cultivation of tea and tobacco on plantations, together with the low level of education of the population make the economic situation dramatic. On top of this came the AIDS epidemic, which wiped out an important part of the economically productive middle generation.