Dr David Livingston explored the region in 1859 during his travels around what later became the Protectorate of British Central Africa. He was impressed by the fertility of the soil but also reported back of the suffering of the Mang’anja people at the hands of the Yao slave raiders.
In 1861, with the help of a handful of British soldiers, the Mang’anja warriors razed several Yao villages but the ferocity of the local slave traders and the intensity of the wildlife led the Church of Scotland to settle in what became Blantyre instead.
10 years later, land was bought in an area of strategic importance to help fight against the slave trade and John Buchanan, then acting British Consul, set up a sugar mill alongside the Mulunguzi River. 2 years later, his successor, Sir Harry Johnston, Commissioner of British Central Africa, established Zomba as the protectorate’s capital.
Zomba remained the capital throughout the colonial era and for 10 years after independence until 1975. Zomba claimed to be the most beautiful capital in the British Empire.