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Book chapter Book chapter Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Between God and Kamuzu: the transition to multiparty politics in central Malawi
Author:Englund, HarriISNI
Book title:Postcolonial identities in Africa
Editors:Werbner, Richard P.
Ranger, Terence
Year:1996
Pages:107-135
Language:English
City of publisher:London
Publisher:Zed Books
Geographic term:Malawi
Subjects:Church
multiparty systems
heads of State
About person:Hastings Kamuzu Banda (ca1906-1997)ISNI
Abstract:This chapter describes the ways in which perceptions of President Kamuzu Banda, the Malawi nation and multiparty politics intermingled during the author's fieldwork in southern Dedza, near the Mozambique border, between February 1992 and November 1993. The focal event in the chapter is the 1993 referendum, the first voting exercise in which most of the eligible southern Dedza villagers participated. In the group of villages where the author worked, 58 percent voted for the multiparty system of government, while the national result was 62 percent. The author shows that in this area, which in the political landscape of central Malawi marks the divide between 'Chewa' and 'Ngoni' chiefdoms, religious affiliation rather than ethnicity informed the local discourse on political change. The mainstream Christian churches played a significant role in putting pressure on Banda's government during the referendum process. Banda was seen to be implicated in disquieting acts of 'despising God'. What were seen as assaults on God during the heated run-up to the referendum settled the matter for many. The referendum in fact posed a choice between God and Kamuzu. This contrasts sharply with the discourse among some Malawian politicians and critics of Banda's regime, for whom a 'tribalist' discourse seems to hold increasing appeal. Bibliogr., notes, ref.
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