What is the current history of Malawi?

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During Slave trade, slaves caught in Malawi, were shipped across Lake Malawi and made to walk for three to four months carrying heavy ivory and goods, if they grew ill or expressed tiredness they were beheaded?

The first organised settlements are thought to have taken place in about 8,000 BC, when the Akafula, part Bushman, part Bantu, who lived from hunting and fishing, moved in from the north. Some 9,000 years later, the first Bantu groups began to appear from the north and west. They were agriculturists and iron-smelters and more warlike than the Akafula. At first the two co-existed peacefully, but in the 16th Century the Akafula were overrun and decimated by the Amaravi from Katanga. The conquerors established their rule over the lake country and over areas of what are today Zambia and Mozambique. The Maravi Empire lasted for over two centuries.

In 1859 David Livingstone, the British missionary explorer, first reached Lake Nyasa, as Lake Malawi was then called, the Maravi Empire had collapsed under a series of invasions. The Yao themselves driven by Arab traders from their territory in northern Mozambique had entered from the north and west inspiring terror by their raids and mass destruction of Amaravi settlements. In the 1840s Arab slave-traders had begun to enter the lake country from Zanzibar and, often assisted by Yao chiefs, captured and enslaved whole communities. This period of violence, fear and atrocity continued until the Arab Sultan Mlozi's defeat at Mpata, near Karonga by the British in 1895.

A British protectorate was declared over the Shire country in 1889 and extended over the hinterland and adjoining Lake Nyasa in 1891. In 1907 the country was named the Nyasaland Protectorate. In 1953, the territories of Nyasaland, Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia were incorporated into a Federation.

In 1960, a new constitution was introduced, which provided for the direct election of Africans to the Legislative Council. Dr. Banda became the first Prime Minister in 1963. The Federation was subsequently dissolved and independence was formally granted on July 6, 1964. The country was renamed Malawi which is a modern derivation of Maravi which means "land of the fire". Malawi became a member of the United Nations in 1964 and joined the Commonwealth in 1966. In 1970 Parliament declared Dr. Banda Life President of the Republic. The Malawi Congress Party was then the only political party in the country and Malawi continued as a one-party state until 1994.

In March 1992, a Pastoral Letter issued by Malawi's Catholic bishops decried the oppressive policies of the dictatorial Malawi Congress Party regime under Dr. Banda. This initiated a movement for political change. Major donors added pressure in May 1992 by suspending non-humanitarian assistance to Malawi. Reluctantly, the Malawi Congress Party Government gave in to demands for a referendum to elicit people's opinion on the continuation of a one-party state. Two new parties, the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD), gained prominence. In a referendum, held on June 14, 1993, more than 60 percent of Malawians voted to change to a multi-system of governance.

Subsequent to the Referendum, Malawians went to the polls on May 17, 1994 to elect a new Parliament and a President by universal adult suffrage. The UDF President, Bakili Muluzi became Malawi's first democratically elected President for a five-year term. Muluzi was re-elected in 1999. Although he tried to stand for a third time through a Bill known as the Third Term Bill, he was forced to concede to defeat and the party paved the way for Bingu Wa Mutharika to run on the UDF ticket. Wa Mutharika won the 2004 race beating four other contenders. The current Constitution, adopted in 1995, provides for a Presidential system of government and guarantees fundamental human rights including freedom of speech and association.

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