By Inno Chanza
A British Protectorate was declared over the ‘Nyasaland Districts’ (i.e. present day Malawi) on 15 May 1891. In 1893 the territory was renamed the British Central Africa Protectorate.
By the Nyasaland Order in Council, dated 06 July 1907, the name of the territory was changed again, this time to the Nyasaland Protectorate. Celebrations were held in Zomba .
06 July 1964 Nyasaland became independent as Malawi and as a Republic on 06 July 1966.
*06 JULY did not start in 1964 rather 1907
-Before Dr. Banda went back home in 1958, some of the young leaders of the Nyasaland African Congress had discussed the question of a new name for their country when it became independent. The Gold Coast had become Ghana on achieving independence. What should Nyasaland be called?
Orton Chirwa, whom I had known since the 1950’s when he was studying for the Bar in London, told me that Dunduzu Chizisa, Secretary General of the Nyasaland African Congress and later of the Malawi Congress Party, who died tragically in a car accident in 1962, had suggested a new name for Nyasaland but he (Orton Chirwa) had forgotten what it was.
However, when I interviewed Henry Masauko Chipembere, in exile in California, in the early 1970’s, he remembered that Dunduzu Chisiza had noticed a name on old maps of Africa adjacent to Nyasaland and he thought that this would be satisfactory for the post-colonial nomenclature of their country, Chipembere spelled this name out to me as “Moene muji”: “M.O.E.N.E.M.U.J.I.”.
I suggested that this was one of those misleading expressions, given by a hasty African informant to a European or Arab explorer, such as “Phiri Hill” or “Lake Nyasa” which are not really proper names; and that “moenemuji- probably meant something like “the owner of the village (or small town)*mwini mudzi.- Chipembere agreed with me. This curious name occurs in a variety of spellings in old maps of Africa. On mine of 1782 it is “Monde mugi.”
But, whatever may prevailed and that this have been its origin, one must surely be glad that Dr. Banda’s opinion euphonious and exact name of “Malawi” was given to the Land of the Lake and not “Moenemuji.”(from a close friend of Hastings Banda in Scotland).
*Some of the Flags that Nyasaland changed since 1907