After thirty years of autocratic rule under ”Life President” Kamuzu Banda, Malawians experienced a transition to multiparty democracy in 1994. A new constitution and several democratic institutions promised a new dawn in a country ravaged by poverty and injustice.
This book presents original research on the economic, social, political and cultural consequences of the new era. The book engages with a culture of politics in order to expand the purview of critical analysis from the elite to the populace in its full diversity. A new generation of scholars, most of them from Malawi, cover virtually every issue causing debate in the New Malawi: poverty and hunger, the plight of civil servants, the role of the judiciary, political intolerance and hate speech, popular music as a form of protest, clergy activism, voluntary associations and ethnic revival, responses to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and controversies over women’s rights. Both chameleon-like leaders and the donors of Malawi’s foreign aid come under critical scrutiny for supporting superficial democratization.
The book ends with a rare public statement on the New Malawi by Jack Mapanje, Malawi’s internationally acclaimed writer. Dismayed at the continuation of an ”oral culture of dictatorship”, Mapanje urges Malawians to confront their past in order to have a future that is free from fear and intolerance.
Anyone interested in politics and culture in sub-Saharan Africa will find this book an important source of insight and detailed analysis for a comparative understanding of Africa’s democratization.
LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
Gerhard Anders was born in 1970 in Germany. He is completing his doctoral studies in the Department of International Law, University of Rotterdam. His research interests are legal anthropology; governance; social security and class formation in sub-Saharan Africa; and the reform programmes of the World Bank and the IMF.
Blessings Chinsinga was born in 1973 in Malawi. He lectures in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies at Chancellor College, University of Malawi. His research interests are rural development and poverty alleviation; institutions, governance and development; and globalisation and regional development.
Reuben Makayiko Chirambo was born in 1963 in Malawi. He is currently pursuing his doctoral studies in English Literature at the University of Minnesota. His research interests include contemporary popular music and politics in Malawi as well as folklore and literature in societies undergoing political changes.
Harri Englund was born in 1966 in Finland. He currently directs two research projects on political and cultural pluralism in Africa at the Universities of Helsinki and Uppsala. His research interests include ethnography; Chichewa/Chinyanja discourses on Human Rights and democratisation; rural-urban migration; and pentecostal Christianity.
Gregory H. Kamwendo was born in 1965 in Malawi. He is Deputy Director of the Centre for Language Studies at the University of Malawi. His research interests include sociolinguistics; language rights; communication in the delivery of health services in Northern Malawi; and language policies in Banda’s Malawi.
Edrinnie Kayambazinthu was born in 1957 in Malawi. She teaches in the Department of English at Chancellor College, University of Malawi. Her research interests are sociolinguistics; language planning; language and gender; and language and Human Rights.
John Lwanda was born in 1949 in Malawi. Trained as a medical doctor, he is affiliated with the Department of General Practice at the University of Glasgow and with the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests include HIV/AIDS, culture and medicine; the popular music of Malawi; and the epistemological boundaries of medical knowledge.
Jack Mapanje was born in 1944 in Malawi. He is Hon. Professorial Research Fellow in the School of English at the University of Leeds. His research interests are in the field of literary theory. Towards the end of Kamuzu Banda’s regime, he was imprisoned without trial for almost four years. An acclaimed poet, he was given the Fonlon-Nichols Award at the annual conference of the African Literature Association in 2002. The Award—whose previous awardees include Ken Saro-Wiwa, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Wole Soyinka—is given in recognition of excellence in creative writing and contributions to the struggles for freedom of expression.
Fulata Moyo was born in 1961 in Malawi. She teaches in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Chancellor College, University of Malawi. Her research interests include human sexuality and HIV/AIDS.
Clement Ng’ong’ola was born in 1955 in Malawi. He teaches in the Department of Law at the University of Botswana. His research interests are regional integration and international trade law in Africa; law and politics in Malawi; and labour law developments in Malawi.
Ulrika Ribohn was born in 1967 in Sweden. After studying Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo, she currently works for Grupos África de Súecia (Africa Groups of Sweden) in Northern Mozambique. Her research interest is conflict resolution in Northern Mozambique.
Peter VonDoepp was born in 1967 in the United States. He teaches in the Department of Political Science at the University of North Texas. His research interests are religion and politics; comparative democratisation processes in Africa; and judicial politics in African emerging democracies.