Peasants and plantations in the Mulanje and Thyolo Districts of southern Malawi, 1891-1951

Boeder, R. B.
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Although land and labour have been major themes in Malawi's colonial history, class formation and the development of the tea industry in the country's Southern Region have received very little attention. This paper is a first attempt to begin a discussion of these issues by focussing on the Lomwe people who immigrated into Malwi from Mozambique after 1890. Entering the country as refugees, most Lomwe had to accept servility under Yao and Mang'an j a headmen or as tenants on estates. As their numbers grew they formed their own villages on Crown Land and became a peasantry producing cotton and tobacco as cash crops and maize for sale to Lomwe migrants employed as seasonal labourers on the estates. The tea plantations themselves were inefficient and poorly managed, depending largely on the exploitation of their workers for profits.
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented 21st June, 1982. Not to be quoted without the Author's permission.