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Appears in Collections:History and Politics Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Blantyre transformed: Class, conflict and nationalism in urban Malawi
Author(s): McCracken, Kenneth
Keywords: Blantyre District (Malawi)
Urban development Malawi
Malawians Sociology, Urban
Malawians Migrant labor
Issue Date: 1998
Date Deposited: 4-Mar-2008
Citation: McCracken K (1998) Blantyre transformed: Class, conflict and nationalism in urban Malawi. Journal of African History, 39 (2), pp. 247-269.
Abstract: There are good reasons why the remarkable outpouring of work on Southern African urban history that has taken place over the last twenty years has largely bypassed Malawi. To the overwhelmingly rural character of the Malawi economy must be added the weak impact of settler colonialism in the interwar period and hence the failure of Blantyre, one of the oldest colonial settlements in Central Africa, with a history going back to the foundation of the Blantyre mission in 1876, to develop as a substantial commercial centre. This feature was reinforced in turn by Sir Harry Johnston's decision, taken in 1891, to site the colonial capital at Zomba and by the construction in 1907 at Limbe, five miles from Blantyre, of the railway terminus for the protectorate. Urban development in Malawi was therefore not concentrated on a single dominant commercial and administrative centre, as was the case in neighbouring Tanganyika. Rather it was split between three equally impoverished settlements, containing small populations ranging in size in 1945 from approximately 4,600 in Blantyre and Zomba to 7,100 in Limbe. Far more Malawians, in consequence, experienced urban culture as labour migrants in Johannesburg or Salisbury, where an estimated 10,000 Malawians were living in 1938, than they did working at home.
DOI Link: 10.1017/S0021853797007093
Rights: Journal of African history. Copyright: Cambridge University Press

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