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Emerging Reality in Customary Land Tenure: The Case of Kachenga Village in Balaka District, Southern Malawi

Land is a source of food, employment and export earnings for many African countries. Apart from its economic importance, land also has a significant social value. Some sites are regarded as sacred and are treated with great respect as they may be associated with important events in the society’s history, for example, its purported origins. Ultimately land provides a site where one will be buried at the end of one’s earthly Life. This paper discusses land tenure changes that have occurred in one village in Balaka district, southern Malawi and the forces that have been at work. The current land tenure system departs in a number significant of ways from what is supposed to be the ideal situation. Among the important changes are the diminishing role of the group village heady-man as allocator of land rights, increasing importance of family heads as allocators of land rights and the development of an informal land market.