Chiwaya War: Malawians in World War I History & Warfare
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The fascinating story of how most of the adult male population of this African country was pulled, for the most part unwillingly, into the horrors of a modern war. Based on extensive use of oral sources, plus archival research in Africa, Europe, and the United States, the study focuses on both the short and long-term impact of this conflict on Africans in this British Protectorate, revealing that World War I was indeed a watershed in Malawian history. }When WorldWar I came to the British Protectorate of Nyasaland, Africans called it the Chiwaya War, from a Chichewa word meaning apotsherd used for roasting grain. Malawians first used the word to describe military mess tins. When they later discovered that grain roasted on the tins made a distinct popping sound, they began using the term to describe the noise of machine guns rattling around them. Gradually, chiwaya became associated with the war itself, the conflicts new military technology, and the effects of the war, which seemed to be everywhere, like the sudden scattering in all directions of the popping maize. This is the fascinating story of how most of the adult male population of Malawi was pulled, for the most part unwillingly, into the horrors of a modern war. Melvin Page not only examines the recruitment and military service ofMalawian askari (soldiers) and tenga-tenga (military laborers) but also considers the impact of wartime experience on all facets of Malawian life. The Chiwaya War became the nations first truly national experience, and as such was a watershed in Malawian history.Based on extensive use of oral sources, plus archival research in Africa, Europe, and the UnitedStates, The Chiwaya War is the most complete analysis of the effects of the World War I on any African country. As such, the book sets a standard for the further study of the impact of the Great War not only in Africa, but in other areas of the world as well. }
Melvin E. Page is professor and chair of history at East Tennessee State University.