A history of contestations over natural resources in the Lower Tchiri Valley in Malawi, c.1850-1960

Jawali, George Berson Diston (2015-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study explores hunting in the Lower Tchiri Valley as an arena in which African and white hunting interests as well as conservation policies precipitated insurgence and accommodation, collaboration and conflict. Precolonial Magololo hunters, having supplanted Mang’anja hunting as a result of the superiority of their hunting technology by 1861, found themselves in competition with white sport hunters over game animals. Unequal power relations between the Magololo hunters and the white hunters, who formed part of the colonial administration in Nyasaland from the 1890s, saw the introduction of game laws that led to wild animals and their sanctuaries becoming contested terrains. Colonial officials and some whites enjoyed privileges in hunting game whose declining populations were blamed on Africans in general and the Magololo in particular. Some Africans and certain whites devised hunting strategies that brought them into conflict with the colonial state. In the Lower Tchiri Valley, the tsetse-game controversy led to game being slaughtered on an unprecedented scale in the Elephant Marsh region. The Game Ordinance of 1926, intended to prevent such wanton destruction, was protested by settlers, planters, white hunters and even missionaries who claimed to represent the interests of the “natives”. The colonial state and the Colonial Office in London quelled the protests, proclaiming Lengwe and Tangadzi as game reserves. As the state was consolidating the game preservation economy and establishing the game reserves from the 1930s to 1960, opposition continued. The implementation of international conservation trends locally, particularly after 1945, served to entrench illicit hunting and the position among some white settlers that game should be exterminated as it was incompatible with agricultural “progress.” The Nyasaland Game Department increased its efforts to ensure that killing game for crop protection was confined to Game Guards, one of whom, an African named Biton Balandow, became a local “hero”. Despite this, by 1960 game populations in the Lower Tchiri Valley reserves were still declining. Together with oral testimonies collected in the communities neighbouring the reserves (or former hunting grounds), the fresh perspectives rendered in this thesis derived from a systematic use of reports, original research papers, colonial administrative correspondence and autobiographical works of big-game hunters-turned preservationists. Specific material for the Lower Tchiri Valley hunting economies from these primary sources allowed this thesis to transcend the often generalised analyses necessitated by macrooverviews in Malawian historiography, and offer a more nuanced study of local contestations between state and subject, between competing individuals, between groups, races and generations and, enduringly, between human and animal.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie ondersoek jagaktiwiteite in die Laer Tchiri-vallei van Malawi as ‘n gebied waar swart en wit jagtersbelange, asook bewaringsbeleid, teenstand en aanvaarding, sowel as samewerking en konflik ontketen het. Pre-koloniale Magololo-jagters, wat Mang’anja-jagters teen 1861 as gevolg van hulle superieure jagtegnologie verdring het, het toe met wit sportjagters om wild begin kompeteer. Ongelyke magsverhoudinge tussen die Magololo- en wit jagters, wat sedert die 1890’s deel uitgemaak het van die koloniale administrasie in Nyassaland, het tot die daarstelling van wildwetgewing gelei. Op sý beurt het die wildwetgewing en wildbewaringsgebiede betwiste terreine geword. Koloniale amptenare en sekere blankes het jagvoorregte geniet waarvoor die daarmee gepaardgaande blaam vir dalende wildpopulasies op swartes in die algemeen en die Magololo in die besonder geplaas is. Sommige swartes en wittes het jagstrategieë ontwikkel wat hulle in konflik met die koloniale staat gebring het. In die Laer Tchiri-vallei het die tseste-wild-twispunt daartoe gelei dat wild op ‘n ongekende skaal in die Olifant-moerasgebied uitgeroei is. Wit setlaars, boere en jagters, selfs sendelinge wat daarop aanspraak gemaak het dat hulle die belange van die “naturelle” verteenwoordig het, het egter beswaar gemaak teen die Wild Ordonnansie van 1926, wat veronderstel was om sulke ongebreidelde vernietiging te voorkom. Die koloniale staat en die Colonial Office in Londen het die besware onderdruk deur Lengwe en Tangadzi as wildreservate te proklameer. Van die 1930’s tot 1960, toe die staat besig was om die wildbewaringsekonomie te konsolideer en wildreservate te vestig, het teenstand daarteen voortgeduur. Die plaaslike implementering van internasionale bewaringstendense, veral ná 1945, het egter daartoe bygedra om onwettige jagaktiwiteite te verskans. Dit het ook die standpuntinname van sommige wit setlaars, dat wild uitgeroei moes word omdat dit onversoenbaar met landbou “vooruitgang” was, versterk. Die Nyassaland Departement van Fauna het pogings verskerp om te verseker dat die doodmaak van wild, ter wille van oesbeskerming, tot wildbewaarders beperk bly. Een van hulle, ‘n swartman genaamd Biton Bandalow, het ‘n plaaslike “held” geword. Maar ten spyte van hierdie maatreëls was die wildpopulasies in die Laer Tchiri-vallei wildreservate teen 1960 steeds aan die afneem. Hierdie proefskrif bring nuwe insigte aangaande jagaktiwiteite en wildbewaring in die Laer Tchiri-vallei na vore. Die bronne daarvoor is mondelinge getuienis wat in die gemeenskappe aangrensend aan die wildreservate (of voormalige jaggebiede) versamel is. Daarby is verslae, oorspronklike argivale dokumente, koloniale administratiewe korrespondensie en outo-biografiese werke van grootwildjagters wat wildbewaarders geword het, ook sistematies nagevors. Deur middel van spesifieke inligting aangaande die Laer Tchiri-vallei jagtersekonomie wat uit die primêre bronne verkry is, bring hierdie proefskrif nuwe perspektiewe na vore wat in teenstelling staan tot die dikwels geykte analises wat in makro-historiese oorsigte van Malawiese historiografie voorkom. Derhalwe is die proefskrif ‘n meer genuanseerde studie oor plaaslike wedywerings tussen staat en onderdaan, tussen wedywerende indiwidue, tussen groepe, rasse en generasies en op ‘n blywende basis ook tussen mens en dier.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97099
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