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20.01.2010 02:52 EST
HistoryMain article: History ofMalawiThe area of Africa nowknown as Malawi had avery small population ofhunter gatherers beforewaves of Bantus beganemigrating from the northaround the 10th century.Although most of theBantus continued south,some remainedpermanently and foundedtribes based on commonancestry.[3] By 1500 AD,the tribes had establisheda kingdom that reachedfrom north of what isnow Nkhotakota to theZambezi River and fromLake Malawi to theLuangwa River in what isnow Zambia.[10] Soonafter 1600, with the areamostly united under onenative ruler, nativetribesmen beganencountering, trading withand making alliances withPortuguese traders andmembers of the military.By 1700, however, theempire had broken upinto areas controlled bymany individual tribes,which was noted by thePortuguese in theirinformation gathering.[11]David Livingstone reachedLake Malawi (then LakeNyasa) in 1859,[12] andMalawi was originallyknown as Nyasalandunder the rule of theBritish.[13] In a primeexample of what issometimes called the"Thin White Line" ofcolonial authority in Africa,the colonial governmentof Nyasaland was formedin 1891. Theadministrators were givena budget of £10,000 peryear, which was enoughto employ ten Europeancivilians, two militaryofficers, seventy PunjabSikhs, and eighty-fiveZanzibar porters. Thesefew employees were thenexpected to administerand police a territory ofaround 94,000 squarekilometers with betweenone and two millionpeople.[14]In 1944, the NyasalandAfrican Congress(NAC) was formed by theAfricans of Nyasaland topromote local interests tothe British government.[15] In 1953, Britain linkedNyasaland with Northernand Southern Rhodesia inwhat was known as theCentral African Federation(CAF),[13] for mainlypolitical reasons.[16] Thelinking provokedopposition from Africannationalists, and the NACgained popular support.An influential opponent ofthe CAF was Dr. HastingsKamuzu Banda, a European-traineddoctor working in Ghanawho was persuaded toreturn to Nyasaland in1958 to assist thenationalist cause. Bandawas elected president ofthe NAC and worked tomobilize nationalistsentiment before beingjailed by colonialauthorities in 1959. Hewas released in 1960 andasked to help draft a newconstitution forNyasaland, with a clausegranting Africans themajority in the colony'sLegislative Counsel.[3]In 1961, Banda's MalawiCongress Party (MCP)gained the majority in theLegislative Counsel andBanda was elected primeminister in 1963. TheFederation was dissolvedin 1963, and on July 6,1964, Nyasaland becameindependent from Britishrule and renamed itselfMalawi. Under a newconstitution, Malawibecame a single-partystate under MCP rule andBanda declared himselfpresident-for-life in 1970.For almost 30 years,Banda ruled firmly,suppressing opposition tohis party and ensuringthat he had no personalopposition.[17] Despite hispolitical severity,however, Malawi'seconomy while Bandawas president was oftencited as an example ofhow a poor, landlocked,heavily populated,mineral-poor countrycould achieve progress inboth agriculture andindustrial development.[18] While in office, andusing his control of thecountry, Bandaconstructed a businessempire that eventuallyproduced one-third of thecountry's GDP andemployed 10% of thewage-earning workforce.[19]Under pressure forincreased politicalfreedom, Banda agreed toa referendum in 1993,where the populace votedfor a multipartydemocracy. Following theelections, in late 1993, apresidential council wasformed, the lifepresidency was abolishedand a new constitutionwas put into place,effectively ending theMCP's rule.[17] In 1994 thefirst multi-party electionswere held in Malawi, andBakili Muluzi becamepresident. Muluziremained president until2004, when Dr. Bingu waMutharika was elected.Although the politicalenvironment is describedas "challenging", as of2009, the multi-partysystem still exists inMalawi.[8] Multipartyparliamentary andpresidential elections wereheld for the fourth time inMalawi in May 2009, andPresident Bingu waMutharika wassuccessfully re-elected,despite charges of electionfraud from his rival.[20]

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