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Africa 2006,

Lake Malawi was named after the 16th Century Maravi empire that extended to the Indian Ocean and comprised peoples such as the Chewa, Nyanja, Nyasa, Nsenga, Phiri and Zimba, who broke away from the Lunda-Luba kingdom in the southern Congo Basin. There was early contact with Portuguese along the Mozambican coast and Arab traders who settled along the coast of modern-day Tanzania. David Livingstone first visited Lake Malawi in 1859 and was followed by other missionaries and a group of Glasgow businessmen, who set up the African Lakes Company and established Blantyre- named after David Livingstone's Scottish birthplace-that became the territory's largest urban center. In 1891 Malawi (then known as Nyasaland) became a British colony and in 1953 it was incorporated into the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland together with Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). Dr. Hastings Banda-who qualified as a medical doctor in both the US and Scotland- led the opposition against this federation and ultimately forced the British in 1962 to grant independence to the new state of Malawi. In the 1970s, over objections from the OAU, President Banda established diplomatic relations with apartheid South Africa and accepted considerable financial and technical assistance, including the funding and construction of the new capital at Lilongwe to replace Blantyre. In 1994 an aging and ailing Banda was pressured into holding the first free elections since independence. Banda and his ruling Malawi Congress Party were swept from office by the United Democratic Front (UDF). Muslim businessman Bakili Muluzi became president and was reelected in 1999. In 2004 Bingu wa Mutharika, Economic Minister in Muluzi's cabinet was nominated to represent the UDF. Dr. Wa Mutharika won a hotly contested race to become president in May 2004.