Malawi

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Republic of Malawi

The Republic of Malawi would, like many countries in Africa, receive a large number of Bantu-speaking migrants during the 10th century CE who would displace many of the original, hunter-gatherer inhabitants. A small kingdom would emerge around 1500, reigning over most of the land that comprises the present nation. Portuguese explorers entered the region in the early part of the 17th century, making alliances and engaging in trade with the local monarch. The local empire would later dissolve into several smaller chiefdoms in 1700, leaving the territory without a unifying figurehead for over 150 years. David Livingstone would reach lake Malawi in 1868, establishing contacts on behalf of the British government that would lead to the region being annexed as the colony called Nyasaland in 1891. In 1953, the nation would be united with Southern and Northern Rhodesia in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The union, however, had very little support from locals, who were beginning to feel the pull of African nationalism. Under the leadership of Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC) mobilized the nationalist sentiment and assisted in drafting a new constitution for the nation in 1960. When the Federation was dissolved in 1963, Banda (who had been elected Prime Ministery in 1963) became the ruler of the new Republic of Malawi. He would declare the nation a one-party state in 1966, and himself president for life in 1970. Banda would rule for thirty years, during which time he can be credited with improving the nation's economy, local industries, and standards of living. In 1993, responding to increased popular pressure, Malawi became a multi-party democracy, and in 1994 a new president was elected.

The armed forces of Malawi consiste primarily of the Army, which includes two Rifle Regiments (Malawi Rifles) and one Paratroop Battalion, as well as a Support Battalion, Air Wing and a Small Naval Detachment (which patrols Lake Malawi). In recent years, the Malawi Army have received training and assistance from the United States, including the donation of large quantities of military equipment and uniforms.

Camouflage Uniforms of Malawi

  • An early incarnation of the Parachute Battalion wore a copy of the British Denison smock wish a similar brushstroke type design. This would have been worn into the 1980s, but has been phased out in favor of the general issue pattern.

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  • The pattern below is believed to be an example of another brushstroke variant camouflage worn by Malawian forces between the late 1970s and 1980s. There is a strong possibility it may have been worn by the Malawi Police Services.

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  • Worn by Malawian peacekeepers, the four-color "arid" pattern seen below only remained in service with the Army for a short period of time, and has gradually been phased out. The same pattern is the standard camouflage design of the Zambian Army, although uniforms appear to have been manufactured by different firms.

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  • Very little documentation exists regarding the four-color pattern shown here, but what we have uncovered suggests it was contracted for the Malawi Airborne Battalion in the late 1990s or early 2000s by a factory in China. The design has appeared on a parachutist smock, as well as trousers, although other uniform items may have been produced as well. In any event, the design appears to have had a very short life with this country, and as yet has not appeared in use with any other country.

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  • Today the standard issue pattern of the Army is a copy of British DPM. Some versions are imported from Namibia, although it is certain there have been other suppliers as well.

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  • Military Training Teams (MTT) from the United States have in recent years donated m81 woodland pattern camouflage BDUs to the Malawi Army, which can be found interspersed with other patterns.

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  • A variation of the standard m81 woodland pattern is also now in circulation, utilizing essentially the same colors and shapes but with a yellowish-tan base color.

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  • Members of the Malawi Police Services have been issued with a DPM-variant pattern seen in this photograph, having very dark olive green and brown shapes on a pale green background. Exact date of introduction is undetermined, but the pattern was still being worn in 2014.

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