Malawi under colonial rule, in Government reports, 1907-1967

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Annual Departmental Reports relating to Nyasaland, 1907-1967

Annual Departmental Reports relating to Nyasaland, 1907-1967

Whereas since 1891, tribes have become much less mobile, small communities and individuals have become increasingly mobile. The modern tendency is for concentrations to take place in the vicinity of European townships and estates
Memorandum on Native Policy in NyasalandAdministration 1931-1963; Native Welfare Committee 1936-1940; img 140

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Watch Malawi separate from Rhodesia and become an independent country

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These records commence at the fracturing of the British Central Africa Protectorate which led to the official formation of the Nyasaland Protectorate. Most records conclude after Nyasaland gained independence in 1964. Nyasaland, now known as Malawi, is never more than one hundred miles wide from west to east and is almost enveloped on three sides by Mozambique, formerly known as Portugese East Africa. The main reason why Nyasaland became a British rather than a Portuguese colonial possession, was that David Livingstone had travelled extensively in the country and written extensively of its potential for Christianity and commerce. His travels were followed by a number of Scottish missionaries who, at the time of the Scramble for Africa, lobbied successfully for the creation of a British administration. In the early years the British Government ruled Nyasaland directly, supplanting local Chiefs in order to assume control. From the 1930's, the Government reversed this decision as they moved to indirect rule and worked with local Chiefs to govern Nyasaland. The work with local Chiefs had limits however and when the Government was faced with opposition to the federation of Nyasaland with Rhodesia in 1953, they proceeded regardless of local protest. The decision to enforce this alliance would hasten the arrival of the call for independence. Commerce and the development of natural resources were key priorities for the colonial government. The Government's most thoroughly documented concern is farming, with surveys of land and water supplies featuring alongside reports on agriculture and veterinary care. Financial returns were also very important to the Government with Estimates, Financial Returns, and Audits featuring alongside Customs and Excise. The Government were particularly keen to ensure that the natives purchased insurance; when the Government found that insurance policies were being mistaken for bank accounts they resolved to educate the population on how to use this financial product. This collection consists of nine groups rather than its original eight, this is because the size of the Natural Resources group was sufficient to require it being split in two. The information for this description was derived, in part, from the to the microfilm edition written by Dr Robin Palmer.



Administration 1931-1963

The content upon Native affairs describes the perceived progress made during each year, in relation to the Government's stated aim...

Finance 1911-1966

These Financial Reports and Statements include commonplace elements such as Revenue, Income, and Expenditure; the main development between the earlier...

Judicial and Police 1917-1964

These reports cover a variety of concerns, including the Judicial, Registrar General, Police, Prisons, and Defence departments. In these areas...

Natural Resources - Arable and Animal Husbandry 1909-1965

The large number of reports which are grouped here rather belie the scarcity and poverty of Nyasaland's natural resources. The...


  • These reports are arranged by the departments which they cover within Malawi. Comparing the data in them shows how each area of government has developed over the years.
  • These papers cover World War One and World War Two as well as the social services in this colony before independence.
  • See how Malawi's services changed after it was forced to join a federation with Zambia and Zimbabwe and how those services changed after Malawi was able to leave that Federation.
  • Annual Departmental Reports differ from Blue Books of Statistics because they include explanations of why the statistics are at the levels recorded.
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