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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Culture, Nationalism, and the Invention of Tradition in Malawi
Author:Forster, Peter G.ISNI
Periodical:Journal of Modern African Studies
Geographic term:Malawi
Subjects:national culture
heads of State
Ethnic and Race Relations
Politics and Government
About person:Hastings Kamuzu Banda (ca1906-1997)ISNI
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/161985
Abstract:In May 1994 the Life President of Malawi, Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda, was defeated in the country's first multiparty elections after having been in power since 1963. During that 31-year era his Malawi Congress Party (MCP) regime had been characterized by a remarkably high degree of legitimacy. This article argues that this long-term stability cannot be explained by political repression alone. The President's authority rested also on other factors, notably on the way in which he manipulated culture as the basis for political legitimacy. Banda can be regarded as the key expositor of cultural nationalism in Malawi. He constantly justified his actions in terms of their accordance with the country's indigenous values. In particular, he stressed the subordination of the young to the old. Traditional dances were adapted for modern political purposes as a crucial feature of cultural nationalism. In numerous ways a particular version of 'African tradition' was incorporated into the political culture of modern Malawi. Emphasizing cultural nationalism, Banda was able to appeal for many years with considerable success to the bulk of the population living in the rural areas, as well as to those in the growing urban centres. Notes, ref.