In memory of Kamuzu: The visionary, the orator, Malawi first president

May 14 was the official birthday of Kamuzu Banda, Malawi first president, who died in 1997. Some say he was born in 1898, others say 1902, others still say 1906.

I gaze at her well-pronounced figure with an inexplicable interest. She catches my gaze before I turn away. She asks me why. I keep on staring at her.

It’s the cloth she is wearing that seduces my attention — the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) cloth. Most especially, the face printed on the cloth. It keeps staring back at me. Those soul searching eyes unhinge my ease. It is the face of His Excellency, the late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

This esteemed intellectual, politician and administrator inspires me. He was a practical example of the word ‘success’. He was what we would call a rare breed of African leaders who catapulted themselves to the top through hard work. He was what we would call visionary. Period.

Kamuzu Banda
Kamuzu Banda

He was what we would call pro-african, a sophisticated rhetorician inebriated with the exuberance of African unity. That was Kamuzu, the man himself.

His reign? Though dictatorial, it was punctuated with a series of developments in infrastructure and agriculture. What does that entail? That leaders should commit atrocities in order to anchor nations into the sea of prosperity? Maybe or maybe not.

But that should be food for thought. What was this man made of? Was there a woman behind his successes? Were there some souls behind the throne that led to his rise and fall? Maybe.

It’s a taboo to speak ill of the dead. The truth? Kamuzu is a memory stuck in our heart of hearts. We will always relish his works whenever we see politicians steering us to the abyss of poverty when there is plenty of land to succeed!

*The contributor is a first year Social Science student at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College.

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