(NYASALAND) 1907 – 1964
Nyasalandia (en inglés y oficialmente: Nyasaland) fue un protectorado británico establecido el 6 de julio de 1907 cuando el Protectorado Británico de África Central cambió de denominación. Su nombre hace referencia al lago Nyasa, situado al noroeste del país. Desde 1964 se conoce al país con el nombre de Malaui, y al lago Nyasa como lago Malaui.
Entre los años 1953 y 1963 Nyasalandia se reagrupó con los entonces territorios de Rodesia del Nortey Rodesia del Sur formando la Federación de Rodesia y Nyasalandia, como parte de un experimento colonial británico para tratar de desarrollar económicamente esa región africana y tratar de contener los anhelos independentistas de la región, si bien terminó disolviéndose tras fracasar en sus propósitos.
La bandera del protectorado fue el pabellón azul británico, de 1907 a 1914 con el emblema de la antigua África Central y desde entonces hasta 1964 con el escudo concedido al territorio el 11 de mayo de 1914 —estando hasta el 28 de abril de 1919 dentro de un disco blanco, y desde entonces sin él—, con la excepción del periodo comprendido entre 1953 y 1963, que la bandera fue la Federación de Rodesia y Nyasalandia.
El 1 de febrero de 1963 se estableció un gobierno autónomo presidido por Banda, y el 9 de mayo siguiente se concedió la autonomía al territorio. La federación estaba prácticamente muerta y terminó disolviéndose formalmente el 31 de diciembre de 1963. El 6 de julio de 1964 se proclamó la independencia del territorio, convirtiéndose en la república de Malaui, siendo Hastings Banda el primer presidente del país recién formado.
Nyasaland, or the Nyasaland Protectorate was a British Protectorate located in Africa, which was established in 1907 when the former British Central Africa Protectorate changed its name. Between 1953 and 1963, Nyasaland was part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. After the Federation was dissolved, Nyasaland became independent from Britain on 6 July 1964 and was renamed Malawi.
Nyasaland’s history was marked by the massive loss of African communal lands in the early colonial period. In January 1915, the Reverend John Chilembwe staged an attempt at rebellion in protest at discrimination against Africans, which prompted some re-assessment of their policies by colonial authorities.
A growing educated African elite became increasingly vocal and politically active from the 1930s, first through associations, and after 1944, through the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC).
There was a marked increase in civil agitation when Nyasaland was forced into a Federation with Southern and Northern Rhodesia in 1953. The failure of the NAC to prevent this caused its collapse. It was revived not long afterwards by a younger and more militant generation which, ultimately, invited Hastings Banda to return to the country and lead it to independence.
British legislation of 1902 treated all the land in Nyasaland not already granted as freehold as Crown Land, which could be alienated regardless of its residents’ wishes. Only in 1904 did the Governor receive powers to reserve areas of Crown Land (called Native Trust Land) for the benefit of African communities, and it was not until 1936 that all conversion of Native Trust Land to freehold was prohibited by the 1936 Native Trust Lands Order.
The aims of this legislation were to reassure the African people of their rights in land and to relieve them of fears of its alienation without their consent. Reassurance was needed, because in 1920, when Native Trust Land covered 6.6 million acres, a debate developed about the respective needs of European and African communities for land. The protectorate administration suggested that, although the African population might double in 30 years, it would still be possible to form new estates outside the Shire Highlands.
Throughout the whole protectorate, the vast majority of its people were rural rather than urban dwellers and over 90% of the rural African population lived on Crown Lands (including the reserves). Their access to land for farming was governed by customary law. This varied, but generally entitled a person granted or inheriting the use of land (not its ownership) the exclusive right to farm it for an indefinite period, with the right to pass it to their successors, unless it was forfeited for a crime, neglect or abandonment.
There was an expectation that community leaders would allocate communal land to the community members, but limit its allocation to outsiders. Customary law had little legal status in the early colonial period and little recognition or protection was given to customary land or the communities that used it then.
It has been claimed that, throughout the colonial period and up to 1982 Malawi had sufficient arable land to meet the basic food needs of its population, if the arable land were distributed equally and used to produce food. However, as early as 1920, while the Land Commission did not consider that the country was inherently overcrowded, it noted that, in congested districts where a large proportion of the working population was employed, particularly on tea estates or near towns, families had only 1 to 2 acres to farm. By 1946, the congested districts were even more crowded.
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