Malawi - (Africa)

Information about Malawi

118480 square kilometres
Protestant 55%, Roman Catholic 20%, Muslim 20%, indigenous beliefs
Christian (%)
Protestant (%)
Reformed (%)

In the middle of the 19th century southeast Africa was visited by David Livingstone. Appalled by the slave trade and its devastating effects on the people of East and Central Africa, he appealed on his return to the British public to fight the scourge of slavery by the introduction of commerce and Christianity. The Angl Church, which responded first (1861), is today represented by three dioceses. In 1875 two Scottish churches joined the missionary effort. The Free Church of Scotland established itself in Northern Malawi with headquarters in Khondowe (Livingstonia). In 1876 the Church of Scotland settled in southern Malawi with headquarters in Blantyre. In 1889 the Cape Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (NGK) began work in Central Malawi. Initially its base was Mvera; it was later moved to Nkhoma.
As British commercial interests in Malawi grew, the country was declared a British protectorate (1891). In the early years missions participated in the effort to combat slavery through “commerce and Christianity” and collaborated with commercial entrepreneurs when actions seemed to serve the interests of both parties. Increasingly, however, the attitude of missionaries toward planters and British officials became critical. Missionaries acquired for themselves the label of an “unofficial” opposition to the colonial administration. During the colonial period basic education and medical services spread throughout the country, but no priority was given to higher education. The plan of both education and evangelism aimed at the destruction of the local cultural heritage. In spite of all this, Western education and increasing contacts with other people in Africa (partly due to the participation of Malawians in the two World Wars) began to sow the seeds of political awakening and resistance. There was, for example, in 1915 an uprising against British rule by Rev. John Chilembwe of the Providence Industrial Mission. From 1953 to 1962 there was increasing opposition against the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. At that time many members of the church in Central Africa (mainly from the Blantyre and Livingstonia Synods) were detained in Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia. In 1964 the country became self-governing; two years later it constituted itself as an independent republic.
In 1924 the Livingstonia and Blantyre Synods decided to form the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP). The Nkhoma Synod joined in 1996. Thirty years later the three synods established the General Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian. Since 1956 two more Synods have joined the General Synod — in 1960 the Synod of Harare (cf. Zimbabwe) and in 1980 the Lundazi Synod, now called the CCAP Synod in Zambia (cf. Zambia).
In 1933 a sizeable split in the Northern Synod (Livingstonia) resulted in the formation of the Blackman’s Church of Central Africa Presbyterian.


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