‘Malawi lost years and  her forsaken heroes’ book launched

Malawi exile returnees Archibald Kapote Mwakasungura and Douglas Miller have launched a book titled “Malawi’s Lost Years: and her forsaken heroes”, a documentation of hidden but now uncovered testimonies of people who suffered abuse and injustice during Kamuzu Banda’s 30 year one-party autocratic rule in Malawi.

Mwakasungura and Miller showing the book

Mwakasungura and Miller showing the book

The book was launched at Riverside Hotel in Lilongwe at an event hosted by Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and graced by activists, academicians, politicians, journalists, writers, and the families of the victims. The former Speaker of Malawi Parliament Rt. Honourabe Chimunthu Banda was also in attendance as the guest of honour.

The book contains testimonies of over 45 people including those by the former Vice President Justice Malewezi, Khwauli Msiska, late Rose Chibambo, later Willie Chokani, Thengo Maloya, Professor Kings Phiri, Ollen Mwalubunju, Mary Mwale, John Soo Phiri, Tujilane Chizumila (former Ombudsman), Matchipisa Munthali, and Victoria Sibanda.

According to the two authors, the book is an attempt by two people who have been greatly touched, one by virtue of origin and birth, the other by marriage and compassion, to try and rehabilitate the lives of a number of Malawians who suffered the indignity of exile on the one hand, and detention on the other during the 30 year misrule under Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

“The argument about ‘Malawi’s Lost Years’ is not that Malawi in the 30 years stood still. No country ever stays still under nature’s dialectic…People lived their lives and infrastructure projects brought an element of development for some of the population. However, much was lost through the excesses of the misrule and the culture of predation that was implanted during that period and that persists today. Kamuzu Banda established the practice that has become the rule – taking over the reigns of government entitles the rulers to exploit the country and its people for personal gain,” argued Kapote Mwakasungura and Douglas Miller.

The two authors observe, in the book, the concerted attempts by Malawi’s current leadership classes to rehabilitate Kamuzu’s legacy by exorcising the evil of his regime and perpetuating the myths about Banda’s strengths and qualities as a messiah or saviour despite ample evidence of his bloody misrule and tragic consequences which haunt the country today.

“No-one should pretend that Dr. Banda did not know what was going on anywhere, anytime throughout the country. He was famous for micro-managing every aspect of life in Malawi. All party appointments required his approval, and civil service houses for the lowest ranking clerk or nursing attendant were allocated at his wish. Such daily trivia as the headlines in newspapers, gun licenses and expatriate appointments all crossed over this desk. Right into the last years of his deep senility, he may have been used by others, but they very clearly operated along the lines he had drawn”.

Speaking in a key note address, the former Speaker Chimunthu Banda described the two authors as accomplished scholars and commended them for the sacrifice they had made to make sure that the book was finally published.

“Let me congratulate my friend Kapote and Douglas Miller for this great work. The fact that the two have used their personal money to come up with this speaks volumes of their sacrifice. I have read almost the whole book in 2 days, and I can tell you there are some areas where when you read you cannot afford not shedding tears –did these things really happen to our fellow human beings.”

The former speaker then added that the book was important for the current generation in order to guard against the repeat of another “lost years” by learning from the past.

Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation executive director Timothy Mtambo saluted the authors and said the Centre was privileged and obliged to host the event considering the fact that some of the touching testimonies and experiences in the book eventually gave birth to a great human rights and governance organization –CHRR- with the objective of jealously guarding against human rights and governance abuses to avoid the repeat of the “lost years”.

“The idea to have CHRR was conceived in exile by a group of dedicated Malawian exile students who included Ollen Mwalubunju, Undule Mwakasungura, Khwauli Msiska, John Soo Phiri, and Grant Sichali who had fled into exile in the 1970s due to the tyrannical rule of Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda and returned at the advent of democracy in Malawi to add value to the noble cause by contributing to the consolidation of democracy and protection of human rights through the establishment of CHRR in 1995.

“The book documents the testimonies of some of these founders. Even one of the author Kapote contributed in the conceptualization of the idea to have CHRR while in exile. It is premised on such that CHRR will not relent in jealously safeguarding our hard-won democracy and avoid the repeat of the “lost years” said Mtambo.

Arcbald Kapote Mwakasungura is a retired and still an active politician. He is the chairman of the Uraha Foundation of Malawi, which oversees the prestigious Cultural and Museum Centre for Karonga.

Kapote was a student activist who fled Malawi for exile in Tanzania in October 1964 when Kamuzu installed his brutal dictatorship. He taught at the Mzumbe Institute of Development Managemetn in Morogoro, now the University of Mzumbe.

In 1974, he together with four Malawians founded the Socialist League of Malawi (LESOMA) and served as its highly respected Secretary- General. In the democratic dispensation in 1992-94 he became a key player as a member of the Transitional National Consultative Council (NCC) and helped to draw up the New Malawi Constitution. Later, he served as High Commissioner to Zimbabwe from 1995 to 1998.

Doug Miller – originally from Ottawa- taught in Malawi from 1968 to 1972 and married his fellow teacher, Nellie Saka, from Kasungu. He was Country Director for Canadian University Service Overseas in Malawi from 1975-76 but fled with his family into exile. There, he became active in LESOMA, the Socialist League of Malawi.

In the early 1990s, Doug and Nellie were deeply involved in the Malawi Action Committee and Canadian Friends of Malawi, advocating and lobbying governments and international organizations to bring about an end to the Banda dictatorship.

In retirement he has been active as Director of Makupo Development Group in Montreal, which supports education, health, water and income generation projects in the Chilanga area near Kasungu.

Doug Miller and Kapote have been  friends since June 1977.

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33 thoughts on “‘Malawi lost years and  her forsaken heroes’ book launched”

  1. dunduzu says:

    Is this book available on amazon books? we need to buy a copy.

  2. Crispin Mkandawire says:

    Congrats Kapote and Miller.

  3. popapo says:

    Why are people so agitated with the book? You mean Dr. Banda should not be said and written about in the democratic era? The book is just telling what was not told by the very people who were wronged. In the book there is little mention of Hon. Tembo as to have fought for independence is this not good enough to research further as to how then on earth he became so powerful after independence. We are told Mr Mthambara and Mr Khonje started MCP and not Chingoli Chirwa is this not worthy astonishment ! There is a handwritten letter from Henry Chipembere to his colleagues in a camp in Tanzania while he was in USA, did we have such detailed information ? I am sure nobody is forcing people to read the book and those that are not interested let them shut up !

  4. James phiri says:

    Should be part of Malawi’s history syllabus….history can repeat itself…so this book brings the light on everyone in high positions to have the spirit of integrity, probity, fairness and transparency…The facts in the book are just taking the spirit of Malawians into areas of responsibility and accountability which has not been the case all along…we live in denial of the atrocities instead of accepting them and then moving forward…..

  5. socrates Jere says:

    FORGIVENESS PAINS JUST AS RIGHTEOUSNESS Much as i applaud the writers of the book for giving us an insight of what happened during the era of Dr Hastings Banda, i also would like to plant a forgiveness spirit in them. Writing historical facts that centers on ridiculing Dr. Banda is a true testimony that you can not swallow it and forgive him as one true leader who despite the atrocities he also managed to bring real development and championed discipline among the people of Malawi. Those who suffered during his reign, did so to bring about change. And if this is the change they ought to bring about, then they have put the lives of many Malawians at a life support machine. I will not single out the hunger situation currently being experienced, nor shall I remind the writer about the economic challenges and bad governance. But I will only remind them that Kamuzu is gone and the atrocities still continues and that keep writing perhaps we shall one day see the better Malawi we hunger for.

  6. Wangonde Mwakakuti says:

    Congrats Comrades for the Book!!! Every dog which is used to a chain will never feel comfortable even if its not on its neck. Some commentators in here seem not to understand a thing!!! Everything is why Kamuzu??? Every human being make mistakes and Kamuzu was never a saint. Let us scrutinize our Leaders systematically and to the fullest. They are our servants and we put them on that Hot seat and therefore, we have the right to point at every mistakes they made and or they make, to avoid a repeat of the very same mistakes. IGNORANCE HAS NO EXCUSE. Muchimvetse kaye chinthucho musanachimvetse. Who does not know that some of your parents were Arial Chairmen and Youth League leaders. Ife tidzalifuna Bukhulo.

  7. chimwene says:

    These commodities which were “imported duty free” into Malawi in 1993, will try everything possible to tarnish the image of late Dr Banda because they failed to to bring socialism in MALAWI as a result they are bitter to this day. Where were they when Kanyama Chiume and Masauko Chipembere were promoting the return of Dr Banda from the UK to come and lead this country? Why does it please any body simply to tarnish the image of others? “Politics is struggle for Power they say” Why is it that all names mentioned to have formed CHRR are TUTSI’S? Did Dr Banda just victimize them/

  8. Douglas Miller says:

    The book will be available at Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation CHRR offices in Lilongwe. Other distributors are being arranged for the rest of Malawi.

  9. MANDEVU says:

    history will not help. keep the book in museum

  10. Piere Wiskes says:

    We all need history,there are more to learn from it,as many teach us to avoid repeat the mistakes done in the past.

  11. kanchenga says:

    I come from a poor family in Central Malawi and lived through the 30 years Dr Banda was president in Malawi I went through high quality primary school and went to Robert Blake sec. Sch. then Bunda college. All this through Govt subsidy or no fee at all. This was very high quality schooling
    Despite being from a poor family,I managed to go to college and now I drive a jaguar around town. That is what we call equal opportunity for all citizen Now iwe nzungu and this stooge tell us if a poor child can afford that in the so called democratic Malawian. You people turned our beautiful country into fools and thieves paradise. It’s now difficult to even remember that we had good projects like hara rice scheme in Karonga Mpheta in Zomba Buwa in Khotakota KFCTA in Kasungu Mulanje peak products in Mulanje. All those gone because of your foolish ideologies. Now people are dying enmass. Innocent children and mothers in hospitals. With all this mess you stand there and remind us of those glorious days. Painting them red as if we are foolish enough not to remember for ourselves. Yes people died that time but those people new what they were dying for. They entered politics knowing very well what politics means in Africa. Now go to any hosipital in Malawi to see the suffering of innocent patient suffering because your democracy has brought freedoms to steal govt. money and make a mockery of courts and allowing thieves to drive around posh cars.

  12. Winston Msowoya says:

    I have red the views of the commentators with respect and at the same time,with the sense of disbelief.The two people explained in part what is in the book,but some of the commentator’s comments,are both unintelligent and bunkum that led people to conclude that indeed,Banda ruled zombies for 31solid years and thank the exiles for holding the bull on the horns otherwise,the people of Malawi would have remained Banda’s slaves for a century to come.A.Mwakasungula is not a communist per say,but an avowed socialist and Pan-Africanist while Banda was a neo-colonialist and anti-African liberation struggle.The African people had seen Banda throw himself onto imperialist camp without shame and feelings on fellow Africans in Mozambique,Rhodesia,South Africa,South West Africa,Angola,Cape verd Islands and Guinea Bissau.He alligned totally with the oppressors of the African people.Back home, Malawians were totally medieval labourers in their own land of birth making them laughing stock of Africa.Seeing that there are still Malawians adore Banda,the future of our coming generations is in limbo.Afterall,Kapote and his friend miller are not communists as other people said,the two are down to earth socialists.Juses Christ in reality was a socialist,he like to share.Banda was an outright capitalist and he grew up in that selfish society that’s why he effectively dominated every sect of national establishment with brutal hand.Brother Kapote and Miller,there is nothing wrong in your book eventhough I have not yet gone through it,but I look forward buying one if needs be.I also strongly appreciate Chimunthu Banda’s stand on this prolific book which will enlighten our peoples’ minds who had been kept in a sinkhole for 31 years of animal like environment.Iam proud also to inform you that my book entitled: MALAWI,”THE LEGACY OF TYRANNY AND SHAME” was published last year in Canada and was well received by some Malawians in diaspora and Africans in general and Iam sure that some have found their way into Malawi.Keep on fighting for the equality of Malawians and the whole humanity that socialism stands for and also tribalism which is threatening our national identity that is being spearheaded by Muthalika and his political hoodlum in his divide and rule ambitions.LONG LIVE DEAR MOTHER MALAWI,LONG LIVE OUR MOTHER AFRICA.

  13. johnM says:

    Another book bigging exiles who believe that their heroes simply because they ran away. The real heroes are those of us who stayed throughout Kamuzu’s rule and stayed to serve the people despite the hardships we faced. When the so called heroes came back, all they did was to steal from the Government coffers. Malawians should never vote for anyone who lived outside Malawi for more five years because such a person has most likely lost all connection to this country

  14. Kuseli kuvenji says:

    So these are the people who wanted to bring in communism in Mamalawi? Bravo Kamuzu for banishing these power greedy sycomphants. Legacy of communism has to date left a trail of strife and war mongers in Mozambique and DRC etc.
    Its good Kamuzu wasted your socialist ideology and not of our mother Malawi.
    As for a Miller he is just another failure and fortune seeker. He is just fooling and cheating his fellow Canadians by collecting money for his own upkeep here in Malawi not for the so called Makupo foundation . He has nothing to show. If his own family is failing to come here in malawi, how can he claim to assist Malawians in Kasungu in general when he has no house of his own at Chilanga Mission.
    In Malawi its known fact that a white mans house is easily distinguished from those of natives. With Mr Miller it is not the case.
    I am challenging the investigative journalists to travel to Chilanga Mission in Kasungu to prove me right or wrong.

  15. Peter says:

    Atumbuka too much intellectual mustarbation, but no action. Kuyowoya waka, no kuchitapo kanthu yayi. Vindere imwe!

  16. Fwentherani says:

    Most of those exiled were tumbukas who are always power hungry, arrogant and provocative. They diserved being exiled. Who can waste hos money to buy such a book?

  17. Senior Chief Maligumu says:

    I see very little good in this book… When ppo know of the atrocities then what?? Does this give us any hope for the future? Unfortunately, most ppo equate today’s MCP to HKB, which goes down to one thing; the book will only end up turnishing MCP as a party. This line of thinking makes me conclude that the book is not any better than an article in a newspaper……………..

    Ndatha ndine wanu senior Chief Maligumu

  18. Dada Kajiso Gondwe says:

    Some people are arrogant, they deserve to be exiled, Kamuzu was right to chase you

  19. Zondiwe says:

    The buck stops with Kamuzu and his leadership team(s).
    He was invited by Chipembere and his friends long after Malawi had been made ungovernable, but he usurped the throne and systematically brought in repression and dictatorship.
    It is true that Kamuzu believed in micromanaging. Civil servants, regardless of rank, had to be ‘cleared’ in order to travel outside Malawi, even for a few days. Kamuzu was highly educated, but unfortunately, he was a tyrant by nature. Many people suffered under his tyrrany, and Malawians should not sweep the sad history under the carpet.Those who never suffered under Kamuzu should not try to say that there was no suffering under Kamuzu. Real people went through hell under Kamuzu.

  20. Dellings says:

    This book should be published and I think should also be taken as a topic in history so that the new generation should be aware of what was happening I thank you Mr A Mwakasungula for the effort you have taken Please print more books for us to have them

  21. basamasa says:

    Zitsiru. Ogulawonso Zitsiru. What have they done for the country? These gogos are entitled to their opinion anyway. Arthur Peter Muntharika is indirectly killing Malawians and those who voted him are partners in sin. God will call APM soon.

  22. Ochibwe says:

    Most of those involved in these so called attrocities are alive today only that they have changed parties. So it is laughable to be blaming a party for its past ills when you were part of the archtects of those ills. Its like a teacher contributing to the dwindling education standards at a school, and later after being posted away you start mocking the school for poor performance,thats being out of your senses. WE ARE ALL TO BLAME!

  23. Master says:

    DYumali,
    Most southerners and centrall region people are eating grass due to hunger but they voted for a southerner lol, hating tumbuaks will never chnage Malawi mediocrion the global stage, currently its only tumbukas that are putting Mlawi on the MAP, Mwai kumwenda lol, hate them or hate them they r shining under your nose, blame your president for failing to give you food desipte voting for him, not tumbukas zoba iwe

  24. Fabiano says:

    I HAVE READ THIS BOOK. IT IS ONE SIDED. IT IS ONLY DOMINATED BY PEOPLE FROM ONE REGION (THE NORTH) WHO ARE BEING PARADED AS HEROES. THIS IS NOT ON. THE BOOK MUST BE DISREGARDED!

    1. Phaghlani Vwavwa says:

      Would you have said the same words, Fabiano, is the people being paraded were Lomwes?. Hate for an entire group of people is unreasonable and a sign foolhardy

  25. Iss Kabudula says:

    We appreciate this type of effort – we need to know the what happened for us to go ahead with our next development. Kamuzu had his fears and he had people who were assisting him to go the way he did nothing.

    Its history hard to delete for many living and those who were punished for anything which was not deserving punishment, at times due to women – where a youth league man wanted ex-woman and the man would be jailed/beaten for nothing by the use of the means of government resources.

  26. The Ear and Eyes says:

    Where can I buy the book. Please help. Kamuzu Banda and brutality/tyranny are different sides of the same coin. Only that we Malawi with our foolishness are busy glorifying him. For what? All he (government) built was from our money. After all he stole most of it and built Chiwengo village, Times Group of Companies, Chayamba Building, Nguluyanawambe Palace, Kamuzu Academy etc.

    With Press Corporation, thanks to Aleke Banda for surviving the thirty years; and his personal testimony rescued the company from Banda’s arm pits.

    Kamuzu Banda bruised Malawians to the extent that they stopped thinking and reasoning for themselves.

  27. GONANI says:

    I don’t think demonising Ngwazi now will help anyone out of this crisis our country is facing now. People must learn to appreciate by understanding that if we had Dr Banda as our leader now, Malawi would still be high ranking on the world scale in all aspects- fast growing economy, discipline, sufficient food production, security, good education system, low levels of corruption etc. Please, help us heal our country, do not inflame it.

  28. Khombe says:

    There’s no way kamuzu Banda will come back to rule this country or his party. History is there for us to learn. We are living in s new democratic era. In which autocracy has no space. MCP is not led by JZU or HKB.It’s new blood that has been injected in. We need to change our mentality for us to bring sanity in our beloved country. Every party that has ruled Malawi has failed us in one way or another.

    Congratulations to the authors for bringing in hidden issues on the light.

    Yours Group Village Headman Khombe.

  29. ADyumali says:

    And who will vote for a Tumbuka to be a Malawian president?????????

  30. Amalawi says:

    Where can you get the Book………?

  31. lupwito says:

    Big up guy for your good & tirelessly effort to bring the lost historical moments up to live so that the current generation knows about it. Kulimba ntima kumeneko Oooh yes..! You are indeed heroes.

  32. Zidura Ntengo Undigwere says:

    Tiyeni nazo, izi. More anti-MCP fire!
    The future is bleak indeed for this Party.
    Who would ever vote for this Party after reading this book? There is no denying that MCP = Kamuzu Banda. This is one big reason many, even in the Party, have been urging the Party to change it’s name. Even if only cosmetically.
    Can’t wait for the mandatory comments from from bwana oChakwera, Ms Kabwila-Kapasula and their cohort: always trying to sanitize Kamuzu Banda’s record! This book is already raffling feathers in many quarters, to be sure.

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