Thursday, May 24, 2012

Malawi on the Move: Renewed Migrants

Malawi has historically been a country with a strong history of migration and immigration. This includes large migrations of people as a result of movements like the Bantu migrations, Mfecene wars,  and colonial-era labor demands in neighboring countries. It also includes the movement of people within the area. Large settlements of migrants came to settle in the Nyasaland area from neighboring countries and made Malawi their permanent homes. As Malawi's founder, Kamuzu Banda once said,  once said "there is more learning in traveling". This has made present day Malawi an ethnic Melange of people of mixed ethnicity that live in close proximity to one another.

Malawians have continued to migrate due to population pressure, education, work or in order to reunite with family members. They have been increasingly emigrating beyond Malawi and Africa's borders. As such, the history of both immigration and migration from Malawi runs deep within the continent. Malawian communities can be found in countries across the globe. These groups collectively form the Malawian diaspora.The Malawian diaspora have been able to assimilate well in to their host countries. Many have settled in the host countries temporarily or on a permanent basis. They have therefore had to take citizenship in their host countries in order to send their children to school, work, obtain scholarships or otherwise comply with legal requirements in their new homes.

This group however, still retains ties to Malawi as their homeland. They regularly travel, send remittances, invest or otherwise contributes to the development of small businesses and charity work in Malawi. However, because Malawian laws currently do not permit dual citizenship. This has limited the type of participation and engagement that this group can have with their homeland. It has also led to physical separation of Malawians in the diaspora. It has also caused negative psychological effects for Malawians in the diaspora that are being forced to make tough decisions or that are having their citizenship unwillingly revoked. They have been compelled to give up their Malawian citizenship upon obtain citizenship in a host country.  The majority have done this unwillingly or with a heavy heart. As such, there has been an increasing call for from Malawians in the diaspora to retain the right to keep the citizenship of the country of their birth country or that of their parents. Malawians in the diaspora are thus calling on the government of Malawi to allow dual citizenship for Malawians that live outside of Malawi's borders. This will promote national unity and social and economic development in Malawi.

Deutsch: Denkmal für Unabhängigkeitsführer und...
Malawi Hastings Kamuzu Banda in Lilongwe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Malawians have been on the move for a long time. They have always remained ties with the homeland, Malawi.  Migration in Malawi is not new a new phenomenon but rapid globalization we are witnessing is new.  It is important that Malawi adapts to this new changing world in order to benefit from this new global era by making sure its policies are also on the move. Malawians should continue to strive to be more competitive in a global era.

Author: Sitinga Kachipande

Related Pages: Migration and Diaspora

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