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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Nyasaland, 1959: a police State?
Author:Baker, ColinISNI
Periodical:The Society of Malawi Journal
Notes:biblio. refs.
Geographic terms:Malawi
Central Africa
Great Britain
state of emergency
History, Archaeology
political science
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/29778977
Abstract:In the report of the commission of inquiry into the disturbances in Nyasaland (present-day Malawi) early in 1959 which culminated in the governor declaring a state of emergency, Mr. Justice Devlin referred to Nyasaland as 'no doubt only temporarily - a police state'. Apart from his rejection of a murder plot, which the governor claimed had been hatched by Congress leaders, under certain circumstances to assassinate himself and his senior colleagues and to massacre other Europeans, Asians, and loyal Africans, the accusation that the protectorate was a police state was the most striking allegation in the report. On the government side, the phrase was greeted with indignation. It was not the size or rapid expansion of the police force which induced Devlin to claim that Nyasaland was a police state. Rather, as he said in his report, he used the expression to explain why his commission took evidence in private. However, the real reason appears to have been that Devlin needed to bring home to the government the political realities and the implications of the way in which it was governing Nyasaland at that time, thereby opening the way for the government to extricate itself from the impasse in which the emergency had placed it. In first instance, the message failed. Ref.