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Malawi Timeline -- Part 1: Prehistory to Independence

A Chronology of Key Events in Malawi

By Alistair Boddy-Evans, About.com

1st millennium AD Bantu migration from the west into region.
200-500 Bantu-speaking migration brings iron working, pottery and agriculture to the region, settling along the shore of Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi). Mwabulamo pottery, one of several styles in east and southern Africa, represents the development of iron working in the Karonga district. Mwabulamo pots are wide rimmed and undecorated. Iron age decorated bowls are produced in the Nkope district.
c.1100 Emergence of Kapeni ware, a new style of pottery which is thinner than Nkope, and decorated with groves and incisions.
15th century Maravi Confederacy, which is formed from several smaller political groups, begins to dominate the region. Our knowledge is based on the earliest of oral traditions and a new style of pottery known as Mawudzu ware. Mawudzu ware is thinner and more highly decorated than the earlier Kapeni, with chevrons, crosshatching, and herringbone patterns. Other, smaller kingdoms exist on the periphery of Maravi territory.
17th century First Europeans arrive in the region, the Portuguese develop trading posts on the coast (of what is now northern Mozambique).
1780-1850 Slave trade, lead by East Coast Arabs, has massively increased.
c.1830s Ngoni enter region from the south, Yao enter from the east and settle in the south, and the Ngonde from the north.
c.1850 Maize has replaced native crops at the main staple in what is now Malawi. It was introduced by Portuguese colonizers on the coast in the 16th century as a reliable crop for their outposts.
1859 David Livingstone, on his second missionary journey through southern Africa (the Zambezi Expedition, 1856 to 64) arrives in the region and discovers it torn by civil war (usually in an attempt to obtain slaves). The town of Livingstonia was names in his honor.
c.1860 Yao migrants, the Makanjila, develop into a powerful kingdom along the southern tip of Lake Nyasa and dominate trade to the Swahili coast (particularly ivory and slaves). The Yao adopt Muslim religion and Swahili culture.
1866-73 David Livingstone on his third expedition into the region travels round the southern tip of Lake Nyasa. The region is being opened up to missionaries, European traders and explorers.
1875 First mission stations set up by Free Church of Scotland.
Karonga district developed by the British. Local Ngonde peoples are in conflict with Arab slave traders.
1877 Livingstonia Central Africa Mission Company, later to be named the African Lakes Company, sets up trade links to the coast and attempts to suppress slavery. Its headquarters in Glasgow, Scotland, are managed by John and Frederick Moir. It develops trade camps along the Zambezi and on the shore of Lake Nyasa.
1885 At the Berlin Conference, the German Chancellor, Otto von Bismark, drops claims to Nyasaland.
1887-95 Karonga Arabs resist British authority (they are unhappy as attempts to curb the slave trade).
1889 Treaties of Protection signed between British and local chiefs. Shire Highlands Protectorate created.
1 February 1891 What is now Malawi becomes Nyasaland and Districts Protectorate -- an extension of the Shire Highlands Protectorate, and as a result of protracted Scottish missionary work. Henry Hamilton Johnson is made commissioner.
Whilst Blantyre becomes the main economic region, the Shire Highlands are developed as the administrative center.
1893 Nyasaland Districts Protectorate name changed to British Central Africa Protectorate.
Commissioner Johnson introduces coffee as a cash crop and offers land cheap to European settlers to found plantations. Africans are 'encouraged' to work on the new plantations for a significant portion of the year through the introduction of taxes.
1898 Henry Hamilton Johnson's troops subjugate the Ngoni in the west of Malawi and north east of Zambia.
1901 Germany and Britain agree on the boundary between German East Africa (later Tanganyika, and then Tanzania), Rwanda, Burundi, and Nyasaland.
1903 British administration estimates that more than 6,000 Africans have migrated to the south of the territory in search of work.
1907 British Central Africa Protectorate officially named Nyasaland.
1908 Railway completed between Blantyre and Port Herald.
Missionaries from the South African Dutch Reformed Church and the White Fathers of the Roman Catholic Church establish themselves in Nyasaland.
1912 North Nyasa Association founded by Levi Mumba to promote nationalistic ideals.
1914 Africans in Nyasaland are conscripted into the British Army and fight against Germany in East Africa.
23 January 1915 Reverend John Chilembwe, a Baptist minister, and roughly 200 followers begin a rebellion against British rule. Plantation owner William Jervis Livingstone is beheaded in front of his wife and children.
3 February 1915 Reverend John Chilembwe is defeated and shot by the police. His lieutenants are arrested and hanged.
1929 African National Church founded.
24 February 1934 Birth of Bingu wa Mutharika, president of Malawi from 2004 to 2012.
1944 Nyasaland African Congress, founded by nationalists, becomes the colony's first political movement and it holds its first national assembly.
1951 British government announces plans to unite Nyasaland with North and South Rhodesia to create a federated state. The majority of Africans, as well as white liberals, in all three colonies oppose the move.
August 1953 Rioting occurs in Cholo district, in the Shire Highlands.
23 October 1953 Nyasaland incorporated into the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland with the already existing Federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe). The Federation lasts until 1963. The move is opposed by nationalists in all three territories.
July 1953 Hastings Kamuzu Banda becomes leader of the Nyasaland independence movement through the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC). He becomes to be known as the 'Black Messiah'.
1958 Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda returns to Nyasaland from studies in the US and UK. He denounces the federation of Nyasaland with the Federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia and calls for independence.
3 March 1959 Violent protests erupt between supporters of the Nyasaland African Congress and the British authorities in Nyasaland. A state of emergency declared, opposition leaders, including Banda, are arrested. Nyasaland African Congress party is banned.
September 1959 Nyasaland African Congress is renamed the Malawi Congress Party. Despite his detention in Gwelo prison, Hastings Kamuzu Banda leads the party.
April 1960 Banda released. He is invited to attend talks in London regarding constitutional reformation of the Federation.
July 1961 British authorities agree to administrative reforms to give franchise to taxpaying Africans and create a new Legislative Assembly.
August 1961 Hastings Kamuzu Banda's Malawi Congress Party wins 94% of the vote for the new Legislative Assembly.
January 1963 Nyasaland granted autonomous self-government.
1 February 1963 Hastings Kamuzu Banda, for the Malawi Congress Party, becomes prime minister.
December 1963 Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland disbanded.
6 July 1964 Malawi achieves independence with Hastings Kamuzu Banda, for the Malawi Congress Party, prime minister and Governor-General Glyn Smallwood Jones representing the British Queen as head of state. Banda moves the capital to Zomba.

Timeline of Malawi
Part 2: Independence to Death of Banda
Part 3: Death of Banda to Present Day

Malawian Leaders
John Chilembwe
Bingu wa Mutharika
Hastings Kamuzu Banda Quotes

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