What were the origins of British ideas on rural poverty, and how did they shape development practice in Malawi? How did the international development narrative influence the poverty discourse in postcolonial Malawi from the 1960s onwards? In The State and the Legacies of British Colonial Development in Malawi: Confronting Poverty, 1939–1983, Gift Wasambo Kayira addresses these questions. Although by no means rehabilitating colonialism, the book argues that the intentions of officials and agencies charged with delivering economic development programs were never as ill-informed or wicked as some theorists have contended. Raising rural populations from poverty was on the agenda before and after independence. How to reconcile the pressing demand of stabilizing the country’s economy and alleviating rural poverty within the context of limited resources proved an impossible task to achieve. Also difficult was how to reconcile the interests of outside experts influenced by international geopolitics and theories of economic development and those of local personnel and politicians. As a result, development efforts always fell short of their goals. Through a meticulous search of the archive on rural and industrial development projects, Kayira presents a development history that displays the shortfalls of existing works on development inadequately grounded in historical study.
Gift Wasambo Kayira is senior lecturer of history at the University of Malawi.
List of Figures, Tables, and Maps
List of Abbreviations
Chapter One: The Poor and British Development Discourse in Africa, 1909-1970s
Chapter Two: The Land-poverty Nexus in Colonial Malawi, 1930s-1965
Chapter Three: Whose Interests? The State, Industry, and Rural Development, 1930s-1953
Chapter Four: Confronting Poverty: The State, ODM and World Bank Triad, 1960s-1970s
Chapter Five: Experts, Planners, and the Tampered Rural Development, 1960s-1981
Chapter Six: Malawi’s Foreign Policy and the Fruitless Search for Investment Capital, 1960s-1980
Conclusion: Some Reflections on the State and the War on Poverty
About the Author
"This most impressive account of Malawi’s development history between the late 1930s and 1983 makes several significant contributions to knowledge of the challenges associated with economic and social change in the late colonial and early post-colonial periods in other regions of Africa as well. Solidly based in archival evidence, this book demonstrates the continuities linking Malawi’s colonial and independence experiences with special attention to the varied actors in the development process, such as international development agents like the World Bank, in contesting state power. Particular attention to the issue of rural poverty and the critical role of inhabitants of Malawi in attempts to ameliorate that situation characterize the author’s approach. This book presents several case studies that illustrate the need for scholarly studies that assess Africa’s development experiences and intentions, not just outcomes."
"Gift Wasambo Kayira has produced a fine and meticulously researched volume on modern Malawi’s long fight to eradicate poverty. Efforts by domestic and international experts have unfortunately yielded very little positive outcomes. Timely published when Malawi is struggling with high levels of unemployment, corruption, economic instability, and low levels of agricultural production, this book is a must read for academicians and stakeholders in both government agencies and local and international non-governmental organizations."
"In The State and the Legacies of British Colonial Development in Malawi: Confronting Poverty, 1939–1983, Malawian historian Dr. Gift Wasambo Kayira engages the controversial and complex issue of 'development' as it played out in Malawi during both the colonial and postcolonial periods. The crux of the matter is the intersection of development and poverty and the role of the colonial state and the national leadership—after independence from Britain—in the process of development. While British administrators intervened to initiate development during the colonial period, Malawian national leaders, the World Bank, and IMF of the postcolonial era did the same with a view to arrest poverty across the country. The contested nature of development allows the author to interrogate the state-supported interventions to combat poverty, the ideas behind the programs introduced, and the transitory nature of the state over time. How did concerns over the welfare of the poor conform with or digress from the need to stabilize the country’s fragile economy? By exploring this and related questions, this book illuminates Malawi’s political economy during a period of uncertainty in a refreshing manner that affirms the need for non-European perspectives on development in Africa. Dr. Kayira’s diligent research on Malawi’s checkered colonial and postcolonial history will enthrall historians and other scholars across various academic disciplines, especially development specialists interested in the global south."
"Tackling the history of Malawi through the study of poverty via developmental history, Kayira presents a new and nuanced view of the state in colonial and postcolonial Africa that explains why anti-poverty campaigns have failed to achieve their objectives. Utilizing a transnational perspective, The State and the Legacies of British Colonial Development in Malawi, teases out how local politicians and bureaucrats, from Malawi and abroad, working within their own institutional logics, thwarted the success of the same anti-poverty programs they were ostensibly pushing."