Kingdom of Maravi
|Common languages||Chewa, Yao, Tumbuka|
|Today part of|| Malawi |
Maravi was a kingdom which straddled the current borders of Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia, in the 16th century. The present-day name "Maláŵi" is said to derive from the Chewa word "malaŵí", which means "flames".
At its greatest extent, the state included territory from the Tonga and Tumbuka people's areas in the north to the Lower Shire in the south, and as far west as the Luangwa and Zambezi river valleys. Maravi's rulers belonged to the Mwale matriclan and held the title Kalonga. They ruled from Manthimba, the secular/administrative capital, and were the driving force behind the state's establishment. Meanwhile, the patrilineal Banda clan, which traditionally provided healers, sages and metallurgists, took care of religious affairs from their capital Mankhamba near Nthakataka.
After contact with the Portuguese, trade intensified. It included such items as beads of the Khami type and Chinese porcelain imported via Portuguese intermediaries. In the 19th century, the state declined and the Maravi were frequently raided by their neighbours the Yao and captured for sale as slaves. David Livingstone visited Lake Nyasa in 1859, and other Protestant missionaries soon followed.
The Maravi Confederacy was founded by the Bantu people immigrating into the valley of the Shire River (flowing out of Lake Nyassa) around 1480 AD. It prospered into the late 18th century, extending to reach what is now belonging to Zambia and Mozambique. In the 19th century the neighboring Yao raided on them, selling captive Maravi on the slave markets of Kilwa and Zanzibar. In the 1860s, Islam was introduced into the region through contact with Swahili slave traders. The region was visited by David Livingstone and stations were set up by Protestant missionaries in 1873. A British consul was also sent there in 1883.
Beginning as early as the thirteenth century, the first signs of a large-scale migration of related clans entered the region of Lake Malawi. Traditional accounts indicate that these people originated in the Congo Basin to the west of Lake Mweru, in an area that subsequently formed part of the Luba Kingdom. The movement continued during the succeeding two or three centuries, but it appears certain that by the sixteenth century the main body of these people, known collectively as the Maravi, were settled in the Shire River valley and over a wide area lying generally west and southwest of Lake Malawi, including parts of present-day Zambia and Mozambique. The first (colonial) historical account of the Maravi was by Gaspar Bocarro, a Portuguese man who traveled through their territory in 1616.The picture presented in the 1660s by Father Manuel Barretto, a Jesuit priest, was of a strong, economically active confederation that swept an area from the coast of Mozambique between the Zambezi River and the bay of Quelimane for several hundred kilometres into the mainland. An account from the following century implied that the western limits of the confederation were near the Luangwa River and that it extended on the north to the Dwangwa River.
"Maravi" is therefore a general name of the peoples of Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and the eastern part of Zimbabwe. The Chewa language, which is also referred to as Nyanja, Chinyanja or Chichewa, and is spoken in southern and central Malawi, in Zambia and to some extent in Mozambique, is the main language that emerged from this empire.
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The Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1891 was an agreement between Great Britain and Portugal which fixed the boundaries between the British Central Africa Protectorate, and the territories administered by the British South Africa Company in Mashonaland and Matabeleland and North-Western Rhodesia and Portuguese Mozambique, and also between the British South Africa Company administered territories of North-Eastern Rhodesia, and Portuguese Angola.
John Buchanan (1855–1896), was a Scottish horticulturist who went to Central Africa, now Malawi, in 1876 as a lay member of the missionary party that established Blantyre Mission. Buchanan came to Central Africa as an ambitious artisan: his character was described as dour and devout but also as restlessly ambitious, and he saw in Central Africa a gateway to personal achievement. He started a mission farm on the site of Zomba, Malawi but was dismissed from the mission in 1881 for brutality. From being a disgraced missionary, Buchanan first became a very influential planter owning, with his brothers, extensive estates in Zomba District. He then achieved the highest position he could in the British administration as Acting British Consul to Central Africa from 1887 to 1891. In that capacity declared a protectorate over the Shire Highlands in 1889 to pre-empt a Portuguese expedition that intended to claim sovereignty over that region. In 1891, the Shire Highlands became part of the British Central Africa Protectorate. John Buchanan died at Chinde in Mozambique in March 1896 on his way to visit Scotland, and his estates were later acquired by the Blantyre and East Africa Ltd.
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Leroy Vail whose birth name was Hazen Leroy Vail was an American specialist in African studies and educator who specialized in the history and linguistics of Central Africa and later extended his interests to Southern Africa. He taught in universities in Malawi, Zambia and the United States and his research in the first two countries inclined him toward the view that Central Africa underwent a period of underdevelopment that began in the mid-19th century and accelerated under colonial rule. After his return to the United States, he cooperated with Landeg White on studies of colonial Mozambique and on the value of African poetry and songs as a source of oral history.
The Makololo chiefs recognised by the governments of colonial Nyasaland and independent Malawi have their origin in a group of porters that David Livingstone brought from Barotseland in the 1850s to support his first Zambezi expedition that did not return to Barotseland but assisted Livingstone and British missionaries in the area of southern Malawi between 1859 and 1864. After the withdrawal of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa those Makololo remaining in the Shire valley used firearms provided by the Europeans to attract dependants seeking protection, to seize land and to establish a number of chieftainships. At the time that a British protectorate was established in 1891, there were seven Makololo chiefs of which six were recognised by the government. Five survived to be given local governmental powers in 1933, and these powers continued after Malawi became independent. Although called Makololo or Kololo, after the ruling group in Barotseland in the 1850s, the majority came from peoples subject to the Makololo who adopted the more prestigious name. As, regardless of their origin, they took wives from among the inhabitants of the Shire Valley, their modern descendants have little connection with the Kololo people apart from their name.
Jan Mathijs Schoffeleers (1928–2011), who published many of his works in English as Jan Matthew Schoffeleers or Matthew Schoffeleers was a Dutch missionary and member of the Montfort Fathers order who became an important figure in African research as an anthropologist of African religion, particularly that in Malawi, where he spent around 16 years, first as a missionary and then as a lecturer. He continued his academic career later as reader and professor in religious anthropology in the Netherlands, continuing to concentrate on African themes.