An Environmental History of Southern Malawi: Land and People by Brian Morris

By Brian Morris

This booklet is a pioneering and finished examine of the environmental heritage of Southern Malawi. With over fifty years of expertise, anthropologist and social ecologist Brian Morris attracts on quite a lot of information – literary, ethnographic and archival – during this interdisciplinary quantity.
Specifically focussing at the advanced and dialectical courting among the folk of Southern Malawi, either Africans and Europeans, and the Shire Highlands panorama, this learn spans the 19th century till the top of the colonial interval. It contains specific debts of the early historical past of the peoples of Northern Zambezia; the advance of the plantation economic climate and background of the tea estates within the Thyolo and Mulanje districts; the Chilembwe uprising of 1915; and the advanced tensions among colonial pursuits in protecting normal assets and the troubles of the Africans of the Shire Highlands in retaining their livelihoods.
A landmark paintings, Morris’s research constitutes an enormous contribution to the environmental background of Southern Africa. it is going to charm not just to students, yet to scholars in anthropology, economics, historical past and the environmental sciences, in addition to to somebody attracted to studying extra concerning the historical past of Malawi, and ecological matters with regards to southern Africa.

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Extra resources for An Environmental History of Southern Malawi: Land and People of the Shire Highlands

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MORRIS The Shire Highlands is also subject to periodic and unpredictable cyclones, violent storms that come from the Indian Ocean. In December 1946, for example, one tropical cyclone caused what became known as the Zomba flood. Over the weekend of 13–15 December around 28 inches (711 mm) of heavy and continuous rain fell in Zomba (according to The Nyasaland Times) causing a cataclysmic flood that inflicted serious damage, destroying roads, houses and bridges, and devastating two villages in the Ntiya area.

Most of the trees are deciduous for a short period during the dry season. The grass cover is usually sparse and poor in quality, with the genera Hyparrhenia, Andropogon and Panicum dominating. The families Asteraceae, Fabaceae (the dominant tree species are all legumes), Malvaceae and Acanthaceae are all well represented in Brachystegia woodland, reaching their optimum abundance at the end of the rains. By October, in the Shire Highlands, the annual fires have reduced the undergrowth to ashes. But with the arrival of the first rains, or shortly before, a remarkable transformation occurs, and it is a phenomenon for which Brachystegia woodland is justly renowned.

In July 1962 Lovell Proctor of the Universities Mission to Central Africa climbed the mountain, and described it as a mountain that was ‘full of spirits (mizimu) and that the place never wanted for rain’. 32 B. MORRIS The mountain, in fact, was linked with the Mang’anja chief Lundu and the Mboma territorial spirit, and thus the local chief Mankokwe often prayed to the spirit of Thyolo Mountain for rain (Bennett and Ylvisaker 1971: 303–305; Morris 2000: 212). The presence of a rain shrine on Thyolo Mountain was still evident when I climbed the mountain with Arthur Westrop in 1959.

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