Review of “Ethnicity, Regionalism, and Nation-Building Challenges in the post-1994 Malawi: Whither a Federal State System”

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Chapter review by Sainala Kalebe

Chapter 12 – Ethnicity, Regionalism, and Nation-Building Challenges in the post-1994 Malawi: Whither a Federal State System, by Gift Wasambo Kayira and Paul Chiudza Banda (pp. 282 – 305)

The chapter looks at the inter-related problems of ethnicity, regionalism, and nation-building in Malawi. It goes down in history and looks at the post-colonial as well as post-1994 Malawi. It examines the challenges faced by the leadership in dissolving ethnic and regional differences and at the same time evenly spreading out development among all regions. The chapter makes a good case that shows that Dr. Kamuzu Banda would have done more in the process of nation-building.

The chapter also examines the pros and cons of federalism as a solution to these problems. It makes an excellent resource, outlining the positions that have been taken on this matter by high-ranking political officials in Malawi. It also refers to other African nations’ conceptions and applications of federalism. Overall, it gives a great picture of how Malawi is a unique case with its problems of ethnicity, regionalism, and nation-building. It rightly concludes that federalism may not necessarily resolve the country’s problems.
It is a well-written chapter, though some of the sections could have been given more appropriate headings; for instance, the section on ‘nation-building in multi-ethnic societies’ dwells almost exclusively on nation-building in Malawi.


  • Sainala Kalebe

    Sainala Kalebe is a Lecturer in the Department of Political Leadership at the Catholic University of Malawi. She holds a Master of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration. She is passionate about Political empowerment of Women. Her research interests also include Political Institutions, International Relations as well as International Security and Disarmament.

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