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The Karonga War: Commercial Rivalry and Politics of Survival
Owen J. M. Kalinga
The Journal of African History
Vol. 21, No. 2 (1980), pp. 209-218
Published by: Cambridge University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/182135
Page Count: 10
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This article suggests a new explanation for the Karonga War of 1887-9. It argues that the advent of different groups of people into northern Malawi in the 1870s and 1880s drastically altered the delicate balance of power in the region. Initially it had been advantageous to the Ngonde to welcome the Swahili both commercially and as a means of deterring further attacks. The settlement of the Henga-Kamanga in the area greatly increased the security of Ungonde and the Nyakyusa ceased to be a serious threat. This fairly comfortable situation in Ungonde was completely disrupted by the arrival of the Europeans. In the first place the African Lakes Company befriended the Nyakyusa and then the Ngonde, forming a trading post at Karonga which was used by all peoples. The Nyakyusa and the Ngonde thereafter had a common interest and were no longer enemies. In consequence the Henga-Kamanga ceased to have an important role in Ungonde. Secondly, the African Lakes Company seemed to offer better trading prospects. This, plus the fact that the Ngoni were no longer threatening the Ngonde, marked the decline in power of the Swahili. The newly formed alliance between the Ngonde, the Nyakyusa and the Europeans posed a threat to the future of the Henga-Kamanga and the Swahili in Ungonde. All this finally led to the Karonga War.
The Journal of African History © 1980 Cambridge University Press