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

By Brian Morris

This booklet is a pioneering and accomplished learn of the environmental background of Southern Malawi. With over fifty years of expertise, anthropologist and social ecologist Brian Morris attracts on quite a lot of info – 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 examine spans the 19th century till the top of the colonial interval. It contains certain money owed of the early heritage of the peoples of Northern Zambezia; the improvement of the plantation economic system 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 ordinary assets and the troubles of the Africans of the Shire Highlands in retaining their livelihoods.
A landmark paintings, Morris’s examine constitutes a tremendous contribution to the environmental background of Southern Africa. it is going to allure not just to students, yet to scholars in anthropology, economics, heritage and the environmental sciences, in addition to to somebody attracted to studying extra in regards to the heritage of Malawi, and ecological matters on the subject of 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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The cedar was THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE SHIRE HIGHLANDS 35 cut by means of pit-saws on the plateau, and the timber carried down the mountain by indefatigable and extremely agile porters (Chapman 1995: 29–31). In recent decades through illegal felling, much of the cedar forest has been lost, leading Chapman and others to make an earnest plan for its conservation, particularly as it has been designated Malawi’s national tree (Chapman 1995). Besides the montane forests the other important vegetation type on Mulanje Mountain is the montane grasslands.

The climate of the Shire Highlands is deeply influenced by what climatologists describe as the inter-tropical convergence zone. This relates to shifting patterns of rainfall and temperature that result from the annual rhythms of changing air pressures, the temperature of the Indian Ocean, and the earth’s rotation around the sun. In the latter part of November this convergence zone, moving south, brings to Malawi, and the Shire Highlands in particular, widespread rainfall. Although the onset of rains is variable, between late December and February the rains may be extremely heavy.

Soka, for example, writes, Mchese Mountain was a ‘mountain of spirits’ (1953: 28–29). For as we have discussed elsewhere, the evergreen forests that clothed the hills and mountains of the Shire Highlands—as well as the forested graveyards associated with the territorial chiefs, such as at Mpita and Milonde—were all associated with the spirits of the ancestors (mizimu ya makolo). Rain shrines (kachisi) were situated in the evergreen forests (nkhalango) or in graveyard thickets (msitu), and offerings were made (kutsira nsembe) to the spirits of the ancestors for support, especially at times of drought (Morris 2000: 192–193).

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