During the same period, Malawians started to be discontented with the colonial system in place. In 1915 Rev. John Chilembwe led a violent uprising against white settlers who had moved into the fertile south, taking land from local population. A growing European and U.S-educated African elite became increasingly vocal and politically active–first through associations, and after 1944, through the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC).
In 1953, Britain joined Nyasaland with the white-dominated Central African Federation, which included South Rhodesia ( Zimbabwe) and North Rhodesia ( Zambia). 1958 Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda returned to the country after a long absence in the United States (where he had obtained his medical degree at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee in 1937), the United Kingdom (where he practiced medicine), and Ghana. He assumed leadership of the NAC, which later became the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). In 1959,
Dr. Banda was sent to Gwelo Prison for his political activities but was released in April 1960 to participate in a constitutional conference in London. During the elections held in 1963, his party was brought to power. Very quickly, the federation is dissolved. Malawi got its independence in July 1964, with Banda as prime minister while Sir Glyn Jones remained governor of the State in order to see to the transition. In 1966, Malawi became a republic and Banda head of State. Lilongwe was declared capital of Malawi in 1975.
On April 15, 1961, the MCP won an overwhelming victory in elections for a new Legislative Council. It also gained an important role in the new Executive Council and ruled Nyasaland in all but name a year later. In a second constitutional conference in London in November 1962, the British Government agreed to give Nyasaland self-governing status the following year.
Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda became Prime Minister on February 1, 1963, although the British still controlled Malawi’s financial, security, and judicial systems. A new constitution took effect in May 1963, providing for virtually complete internal self-government. The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was dissolved on December 31, 1963, and Malawi, which means “reflected light of bright haze,” became a fully independent member of the Commonwealth (formerly the British Commonwealth) on July 6, 1964. Two years later, Malawi adopted a new constitution and became a one-party state with Dr. Banda as its first president.