introdUCtion
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colonialism, nativism, and tHe
GenealoGical imaGination
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On the eve of 1964, the British Central African Federation (1953–63) that
had united Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland for
ten years ended. By July 6, 1964, Nyasaland achieved its independence to
become Malawi, with Zambia following suit on October 24, 1964. South-
ern Rhodesia would pursue an entirely different political path through
the white- led Rhodesian Front’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence
on November 11, 1965. A prolonged armed struggle would result, lasting
until 1980 with the founding of Zimbabwe. However, the official collapse of
the federation on December 31, 1963, virtually guaranteed eventual change
across the region. British control and influence—even among Southern
Rhodesia’s white community—would decline dramatically in a span of less
than two years. To mark the occasion, a symbolic funeral procession took
place on New Year’s Day, 1964, at the headquarters of the Malawi Congress
Party (mcp) in Limbe, Nyasaland, with a coffin provocatively labeled “Fed-
eration Corpse” burned as an effigy of imperial failure. Hastings Kamuzu
Banda (1898–1997), leader of the mcp and future president of Malawi
(figure i.1), prefaced this emblematic gesture with a short speech in which
he affirmed, with pointed refrain, “Now at last, the Federation is dissolved,
dissolved, dissolved.”1 In a similar spirit of disenchantment, Kenneth
Kaunda, president of Zambia and leader of the United National Indepen-
dence Party, commented several years later that the federation had been
a doomed effort to counter African nationalism, presenting “a brake upon
African advancement in the North.” In his view, whites throughout the re-
gion had been “blinding themselves to the signs writ large in the skies over
post- war Africa,” a case of “shouting against the wind.”2 In these ways, the
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