Nyasaland was made famous through the exploits and explorations of David
Livingstone in the 1850s. This strong willed Christian was adamantly opposed to
the horrors of the slave trade and he found plenty of evidence for it around
the lake. His pioneering efforts would prove a magnet for British missionaries
keen to follow in his footsteps. Indeed, Scottish missionaries were even more keen to make their mark in this colony.
Missionary activity in the area was actually to be
fortuitous for the plans of the British Government and of a certain Cecil
Rhodes. The Portuguese had claimed that their lands in Mozambique
ran across the continent to their lands in Angola.
If this had been the case, then British plans for uniting their southern
colonies with her eastern colonies would have been dead in the water. Instead,
the existence of British missionary activity and the absence of any Portuguese
settlements of any kind was a convenient diplomatic excuse for the British to
lay claim to the intervening land. Additionally, the British owned African
Lakes Company had also been acquiring its own treaties over the area. This
combination of commercial and missionary activity was enough to allow the
British government to declare the area around Lake Nyasa a British protectorate in 1889. This claim became particularly acute
when a force of armed Arabs under Portuguese leadership invaded the area. These
Arabs were armed with machine guns and shot any native Africans who refused to
submit to their rule. After long and trying negotiations, a treaty was signed
in June 1891 in which the Portuguese finally relinquished their control over
the area, although a guerrilla warfare continued on
and off for many more years to come.
These negotiations had been taking place concurrently
with events in Matabeleland where Rhodes and his British South Africa Company was trying to
negotiate mineral prospects. The extent of Lobengula's
Matabele empire was left
deliberately vague to maximise their prospecting potential. In 1893, the BSAC
would find an excuse to fight a war against the Matabele
and claim their lands. The BSAC would combine the vague treaty limits with
buying out the African Lakes Company to take control of the Nyasaland protectorate in 1893.
However, it needed to continue to expend serious resources and manpower to
subdue the slavers in the area. It was not until 1897 that they could fully
claim to have pacified the region.
The authorities would encourage white settlement at
the expense of black Africans. The settlers found that the area was suitable
for growing coffee. They began to plant coffee plantations with extensive use
of African labour. Although the Africans did find that Christianity could
provide some defence against the racist policies of the settlers and the BSAC
government. It was much harder for the BSAC to discriminate against or
dispossess Christians. It also helped that the churches back in Britain
could provide effective lobbies. In fact, it was partly as a result of this
lobbying that Nyasaland was withdrawn from BSAC control in 1907 and returned to direct British
Black ordained ministers would provide one of the
first effective forms of opposition to colonial rule. This would be
demonstrated in 1915 when John Chilembwe, a black
minister, led a revolt against British rule whilst Britain
was distracted by the First World War. The revolt was put down with relative
ease but it did see the deaths of a number of white settlers and would provide
inspiration for later acts of rebellion.
World War One would also
provide a strategic threat to the colony as the German Tanganyika commander
Paul von Lettow Vorbeck
fought a highly effective guerrilla campaign throughout Eastern and Central Africa for the entire
duration of the war. Many settlers and Africans would be called up to help
fight this German force. It was a serious drain on resources.
The 1920s and 30s saw substantial infrastructural
improvements; railways, roads and port facilities were all improved. There was
also to be a subtle shift back towards African rights in the colony. The 1923
Devonshire Paper and the 1930 Passfield Memo both
argued the wisdom of giving black Africans more rights in the colony. The white
settlers were vehemently opposed to these developments. However, as the crown
appointed the majority on the Legislative Council it could afford to ignore the
sentiments of these settlers. In fact, this ignoring of the settlers would make
these same whites far more sympathetic to the idea of a union between the two Rhodesia's
and Nyasaland. Although World War two would delay any federation until after it had
Federation was attempted from 1954 to 1963. It was
really an experiment to create larger, viable colonies that were supposed to be
more able to handle independence. In reality, the Africans thought of the
experiment as a way of delaying independence. Meanwhile, the white settler run
colony of Southern Rhodesia was reluctant to fund the investment required in the other two
colonies. Events in South
would act as a spur to the destruction of the Federation. Its introduction of
racist policies and its withdrawal from the Commonwealth made all black nationalist leaders wary of being ruled by white
settlers. The British Government felt compelled to encourage black majority
participation in its legislative councils. Southern
Rhodesia was the exception as it
had already been granted its own white dominated self government back in 1923-1924
and it was just about to announce its own Unitary Declaration of Independence.
In contrast, Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia were about to use their newly enhanced black representation in their
legislative councils to declare the dissolution of the Federation, enhanced
democracy and declarations of independence. Nyasaland was to declare itself independent as Malawi in
Currency: Southern Rhodesia pound (20 shillings, 1 shilling = 12 pence)
For more stamps see:
Nyasaland (Malawi) in Wikipedia.
of Nyasaland in Flags
of the World.
printer: Waterlow & Sons, London (1 and 4), Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co., New Malden
(2 and 3)
(1 and 4), 11:11˝ (2 and 3)
1 1 d Hermes, globe, letter, airplane,
boat, train, text "UNIVERSAL / POSTAL UNION / 1874 1949"
(cat. Michel 89/SG 163/Yvert 96)
2 3 d hemispheres, airplane, steamer,
text "1874 / UNIVERSAL POSTAL UNION / 1949"
(cat. Michel 90/SG 164/Yvert 97)
3 6 d Hermes scattering letters over
globe, text "UNIVERSAL POSTAL UNION / 1874 / 1949"
(cat. Michel 91/SG 165/Yvert 98)
4 1/- UPU monument, Berne, text "UNIVERSAL / POSTAL / UNION / 1874 /
1949" and "UNION
(cat. Michel 92/SG 166/Yvert 99)
last revised: 4 July 2009