JB says Malawi to accord M’mbelwa befitting last post: State funeral for Ngoni Paramount Chief

Malawi Government is working on giving a deserving send off to its departed Paramount Ngoni Chief Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa 1V, President Joyce Banda has said.

The influential and inspirational cultural leader succumbed to diabetes and hypertension Tuesday morning at Mwaiwathu Private Hospital in Blantyre where he was referred to after first being admitted to Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe.

President Banda said she was shocked at the death of the Paramount Chief whom she described as a courageous leader and great son of Malawi and said he should be accorded a decent burial befitting a national hero.

Nation’s loss

“I am discussing with government that he must be given the funeral that he deserves as a paramount chief,” President Banda said in Blantyre when she paid her last respects to the departed chief at Mwaiwathu Hospital as well as College of Medicine where embalming will take place before the body is taken home in Mzimba.

PresidentJoyce  Banda consoling Inkosi Mbelwa's mother
PresidentJoyce Banda consoling Inkosi Mbelwa’s mother

The President observed that in Inkosi M’mbelwa 1V, Malawi has lost an influential son and one of the already few paramount chiefs the country has.

Speaking to journalists at the College of Medicine Mortuary on Tuesday, the President said Inkosi M’mbelwa’s death “is a devastating blow to the nation”.

“The nation has lost a true and dedicated son; Inkosi M’mbelwa was dedicated to uplifting the lives of people not only in his area and but the whole nation. He was in the forefront initiating developmental projects,” said President  Banda.

She said she would personally miss the Ngoni chief whom she last met some three weeks ago when he led a Ngoni chiefs’ delegation that had an audience with her at the Mzuzu State Lodge.

“I met him some three weeks ago at Mzuzu State Lodge and we had discussions for hours. I will miss him personally but this nation shall also miss him,” said Banda.

The Malawi leader said she had always respected Chief M’mbelwa for his dedication to work with the government of the day particularly in initiating developmental projects. He worked with the government of Dr. Kamuzu Banda where he was engaged with Press Corporation before he became Chief; he worked with the government of Dr. Bakili Muluzi; and he worked with this government, she noted.

“As government, we will ensure that our Paramount Chief is accorded a decent funeral befitting his status,” said Banda, adding that her officials are discussing with the Chief’s family to agree on a funeral programme.

According to President Banda’s press aide, Tusekele Mwanyongo, President Dr. Banda had visited the Paramount Chief at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe on Sunday, February 10, 2013.

“The President had found the Chief in a worse state of health on Sunday. She immediately ordered that the Paramount Chief be flown to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital on the same Sunday in a presidential helicopter to access more expert medical attention. Her Excellency is in a state of extreme grief at Paramount Chief M’mbelwa’s death,” the press aide told Nyasa Times from Blantyre on Tuesday.


Meanwhile, government says it is waiting for advice from the late chief’s family before it announces burial arrangements.

“The family will have to sit down and discuss. We can only act upon what the family says so in this case we still have to wait a little while until discussions have taken place at family level and have advised government on the next direction in terms of burial arrangements,” spokesperson for the Ministry of Local Government, Maganizo Mazeze said.

M’mbelwa is tentatively expected to be buried in his homeland, Mzimba, on Saturday 16 February. Synod of Livingstonia will lead the church service.

Today 12th February 2013, at 14:00 hrs, the Church has been given a task to open the funeral with prayers at Area 3 Mtunthama State Resistance in the capital city, Lilongwe, where vigil will be observed.

Chewa’s Undi to pay homage

Meanwhile the Chewa Heritage has announced that the Chewa Chief, Gawa Undi, is expected to attend the funeral ceremony.

Speaking to local press, heritage keeper in Malawi, also former State Vice President Justin Malewezi said: “We are more saddened by the death as we have worked with M’mbelwa and the Ngoni people in various for a. We are more saddened because we were brothers and united our people. We have sent word to Gawa Undi about the sad demise.”

Gawa Undi is the Paramount Chewa chief, in control of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia where his capital is based in Chipata District.

Fact File

According to family records, Inkosi M’mbelwa was born at Edingeni as Zwangendaba Jere in 1954 and was installed Inkosi ya Makosi 1V in February 1984 by Paramount Chief Mpezeni of Zambia at his Edingeni Headquarters in Mzimba following  the death of his father, Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa 111.

He went to Edingeni Primary School before getting selected to Mzuzu Government Secondary School where he finished his Form Four in 1976.

Among other places, Inkosi M’mbelwa worked as an administrator at Press Holdings Limited and Shire Valley Cattle Ranch before being installed as chief.

The departed Ngoni chief will greatly be missed and remembered by his clan for solidly defending against the split of Mzimba district (the biggest in Malawi) arguing that doing so would disintegrate the Ngoni people.

Survived by four children- three boys and a girl- Inkosi M’mbelwa has worked with all the country’s four presidents (Dr Kamuzu Banda, Dr Bakili Muluzi, Prof Bingu wa Mutharika and the current President Banda) and has been described by several social commentators as an opportunist.

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