A Democracy of Chameleons: Politics and Culture in the New Malawi

By Harri Englund | Go to book overview

7.
Ethnic Revival and Language
Associations in the New Malawi

The Case of Chitumbuka
Gregory H. Kamwendo

Preamble

Unity and singularity were key values in the authoritarian regime of Kamuzu Banda: one party (Malawi Congress Party); one leader (Life President Kamuzu Banda); one language (Chichewa); and one nation (Malawi).1 To this end, cultural and language associations, especially those with ethnic flavour, were not encouraged to flourish for fear that they would encourage disunity. In the interest of national unity, the celebration of ethnic identity was vehemently suppressed. Recognising that language is one of the key markers of ethnolinguistic identity, the Banda regime, at the 1968 MCP Convention, began the process of developing and promoting Chichewa at the expense of other indigenous languages. The party convention gave official status to Chichewa and left the other languages without a role to play in the official domains.2 Until 1968, Chichewa had been widely regarded as merely one of the dialects of Chinyanja—the African lingua franca of colonial Malawi and widely used also in Zambia and Mozambique. Yet the Chichewa dialect happened to be spoken in Central Malawi, where Banda claimed to be from.

One result of the advent of multipartyism in Malawi has been the provision of freedom of association, leading to the emergence of a number of voluntary associations. There now exist, for example, associations in which membership is determined by one's district of origin (see Englund, 2001c). These district- and villageoriented associations, operating in urban centres, aim at grouping together people from the same district in order to contribute to the social and economic development of their home areas. Examples of such associations include the Friends of Machinga, the Kasungu District Development Association, and the Nkhata Bay District Development Association. Their stated purpose is to strengthen the link between urban dwellers and their rural relations. However, because these associations are dominated by people of influential capacity in society—such as businessmen, academics, clergy, politicians—their political importance may extend beyond their apparent developmental efforts in particular rural areas. As has been noted for post-authoritarian Africa more generally (see Geschiere and Gugler, 1998), multipartyism must be seen as a context for the emergence of these associations. When the ideologies of political parties provide few pointers as to how they might be different from one another (see Englund's Introduction to this volume), political differences are expressed in other ways. As chapters in this volume have already indicated, ethnic and regional identities have assumed new significance in the political life of Malawi. Multiparty-

____________________
1
Such values resonated with the postcolonial “nation-building” elsewhere. Compare, for example, Kenneth Kaunda's “One Zambia, One Nation” slogan. In Tanzania, the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), later called Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), identified Kiswahili as having the potential to unite people of divergent ethnolinguistic origins.
2
English retained its position as the principal official language in the media, education, government, commerce, etc.

-140-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
A Democracy of Chameleons: Politics and Culture in the New Malawi
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 208

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.