Kamuzu Academy products infiltrating into upper echelons of Malawi leadership as Prof. Sajidu is appointed UNIMA Vice-Chancellor 

When President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera attended the  commemoration of Kamuzu Academy Founder’s Day in Mtunthama, Kasungu in 2020, he spoke from his heart by declaring that the true measure of the quality of education delivered at KA — and any other education institution — is not in the strength of the curriculum or the credentials of teachers who facilitate it, but the men and women that the education produces.

That has come and continues to pass as with effect from April 1, 2022, the University of Malawi (UNIMA) will be headed by a Kamuzu Academy product, Prof. Samson Sajidu as the new Vice-Chancellor — who adds KA’s continued infiltration into the upper echelons of Malawi’s leadership.

Prof. Samson Sajidu

A communique from acting UNIMA Registrar, Mary Wakisi dated March 21 confirmed that Prof. Sajidu takes over from acting Prof. Al Mtenje and that the two are expected to work together in the month of April “for the purposes of orderly handovers”.

The founding president of the Republic of Malawi, late Ngwazi Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, opened the grammar school on November 21, 1981 and it was soon aptly described as the ‘Eton of Africa’ because of its academic excellence.

At the Founder’s Day in 2020, Chakwera took cognizance that Kamuzu Academy has always led the way in producing fine men and women and barrier breakers — who have always been “ready not only to go to college and get a job but to make a mark in Malawi”.

He singled out notable professionals that have made their mark that include Catherine Gotani Hara as the first female Speaker of Parliament; Chanju Samantha Mwale — who broke barriers as the first female lawyer in Malawi Defence Force (MDF); Yolanda Kaunda (the first female pilot captain in Malawi); Samuel Kampondeni (Malawi’s first radiologist); Samson Kambalu (an artist whose artwork has been exhibited at international level).

The list is too long for him to single out on that Founder’s Day but if by then Prof. Sajidu had been appointed as UNIMA’s Vice-Chancellor, he would have deservedly been mentioned, just as he could have included the likes of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson, Justice Dr. Chifundo Kachale — who oversaw the world-famous 2020 fresh presidential election that ushered in Chakwera himself.

If he had the time to, he also could have made special mention of the contribution of Brigadier General Kingsley Magomero as being on the highest ranks of the MDF alongside General Soko and Colonel Rodwell Gausi — both KA alumni.

The resume for Chanju Mwale is very rich — she joined Malawi Defence Force (MDF) in 2004 soon after graduating as a lawyer from Chancellor College.

As a specialist uniformed member, being a lawyer, her entry rank was Captain and her contributions soon earned her the rank of Major, also the first female to serve such highest ranking position in the history of the MDF.

Then from 2010-2011, she was deployed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) under MONUSCO as a peacekeeper and was assigned to the Conduct and Discipline Unit of the United Nations.

Her task with MONUSCO in DRC was to help in training military contingents in the Area of Operation on the Code of Conduct of the UN against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.

In 2014, she was awarded the United Nations Nippon Fellowship, a very prestigious and competitive award which is offered to 10 people each year from the world over which focuses on The Law of The Sea.

As for Catherine Gotani Hara, her achievement as the female Speaker of Parliament obscured some very notable accomplishment even before she became MCP MP for Mzimba North East.

The graduate of the meritous Eton of Africa, further studied and graduated in Political Science at Chancellor College and also attained professional training at the University of Brighton in the United Kingdom.

She boasts of sufficient work experience with various national and international organizations and has also served as Minister of Health, Minister of Environment, Deputy Minister of Gender and Deputy Minister of Transport.

She has also chaired SADC Ministers of Health, hosted SADC Conference for Health in 2013 and represented the Head of State at various summits in UK, USA  Brazil etc.

Also of note is High Court judge, Justice Fiona Mwale who after leaving KA proceeded to the University of Leeds in England where she attained her Bachelors degree in law; completed the Bar Vocational Course at Nottingham Law School and was called to the Bar of England and Wales by the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn in London.

On her return home, after two years workinn in the Ministry of Justice, she was awarded a Beit Trust Scholarship which took her to the University of Warwick where she obtained a Masters degree in Law in Development.

She then moved from the civil service into the public service as a law reformer with the Malawi Law Commission and after 8 years with the Commission, she landed a job with the SADC Tribunal.

She returned home in 2012 after her appointment a judge of the High Court of Malawi joining her fellow alumnus, Justice Chifundo Kachale, who was the youngest judge at that time.

Another KA alumnus as a judge is Justice Dorothy De Gabriele, who join other lady judges such as Justices Ivy Kamanga, Rachel Sikwese, Dorothy NyaKaunda Kamanga, Annabel Mtalimanja, Zione Ntaba and Ruth Chinangwa.

Even the two acclaimed musicians Edgar ndi Davis of Giddes Chalamanda fame — Edgar Kachere and Davis Njobvu — are distinguished lawyers who went through the corridors of Kamuzu Academy.

KA has produced many medical personnel operating in various hospitals in the country, some in private practice and others in public institutions — one such being Dr. Patrick Kamalo, who is the sole neuro surgeon in this country after the death of Nga Ntafu.

The achievements by KA alumni are just vast — but despite that the appointment of Prof. Sajidu has been received with so much joy and pride by the KA Alumni community — with some congratulatory messages coming from high profile professionals who deserve special recognition on their own for what they have achieved ever since they left the ‘Eton of Africa’ school many years ago.

Prof. Sajidu now goes to head the very institution that Kamuzu founded soon after the country attained its Independence from the British rule — becoming UNIMA’s 10th Vice-Chancellor, preceding Prof. John Kalenga Saka.

The first Vice-Chancellor was Prof Ian Michael (1965–1973) followed by Prof Gordon Hunnings (1973-1976); Prof David Kimble (1977-1986); Prof John Dubby (1987-1990); Prof Brown Chimphamba (1982-2000); Prof David Rubadiri (2000-2005); Dr Emmanuel Fabiano (2009–2013); Prof John Saka (2014-2020); Prof Al Mtenje (2021-2022 in acting capacity).

Fellow alumnus in the UNIMA’s faculties are Associate Professors, Dr Timothy Biswick (Chemistry); Dr Maurice Monjerezi (Chemistry); Dr Boniface Dulani (Public and Administrative studies); Senior lecturers Dr Jezman Chintsanya (Demography); Meya Kalindekafe (Biology) and Yapikachi  Kambale (Public and Administrative studies).

Pro Sajidu joined KA in 1990 and obtained his Cambridge IGCSEs and GCSEs with 6 As and 3 Bs in 1994 before proceeding to do Cambridge A Levels, but unfortunately did not complete as the institution transitioned from being a public high school to private one.

He reminisces: “KA was a special school. The was no disparity in terms of student treatment amongst those coming from rich and poor backgrounds, rural or urban areas. Of course, you would tell the English accent of those coming from private primary schools.

“Apart from class work, we used to enjoy sports as well and it was compulsory to participate in all sports activities such as, football, netball, badminton, squash, basketball, tennis, hockey, rugby, swimming, tchoukball, and athletics including assault course and KA marathon.

“Everyone who went to KA before 1994 had participated in all these games without any choice. I was actually a Chilowa House rugby team captain but never played the game again after KA. I was also good at lawn tennis.

“The other interesting extracurricular exercises were lessons on etiquette with the Dame. We used to learn eating manners (how to hold a fork and knife); general cleaning and making up your bed; dressing (even tying a tie); social life; and even how to respect others.

“I honestly owe a significant portion of my success to such lessons which I think should be part of our training even in the modern universities considering that we do enrol young students these days.

“In my year, I had lots of friends such as Dr Jezman Chitsanya, Dr Madalitso Maliwichi, Jack Chombo; Dr Luckson Dullie, Dr Kondwani Kawaza, Nthombizana Thindwa, Monase Chibambo, Innocent Sanga, Rex Mapila, Patrick Kalimbuka, Janet Thindwa.

“But also we found some of our seniors who are prominent members of the citizenry such as Catherine Gotani Hara, Benard Ndau, Boniface Dulani, Davis Njobvu, George Kajanga, Christopher Zangaphee Chimombo, Timothy Biswick, Kingsley Magomero, Lindani Phiri, Samson Kambalu, Dr Patrick Kamalo, Wilma Chalulu, Emmanuel and Mercy Mulele, Noel Malemia, Humphrey Chiwaula, Medson Kalambule, Rodwel Gausi, Zondi Kawamba — and even yourself Duncan.

“I also interacted with others who came after me but within the same study period such as Ali Chiwoko, Dr Kaponda Masiye, Associate Prof Maurice Monjerezi, Dumisan Banda, Clement Varela, Reena Purshotam, Edgar Kachere, David Chikonda, Wellington Kazembe, Brett Lusuwali, Likhwa Mussa, Temwachi Kaluwa and many more.

“Just to highlight also that during the anniversary celebrations of the 10th Founders Day in 1991, I had a rare opportunity of dancing Ingoma with the Founder himself (the former President, late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda). My shield and arrow were confiscated and we danced for about 1 minute and he said ‘excellent!’. I was on cloud 9 thereafter!”

At the 2020 Founder’s Day, Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje acknowledged that late Kamuzu Banda was a man who cherished a deep belief in quality and excellence and recognized the central importance of education to bring development in Malawi.

She said “Kamuzu Academy is truly an embodiment of this belief and commitment and excellence applied to education” while Headmaster, Andrew Wild, said Kamuzu’s love turned into service as he realized that leaders needed quality education and that is why he built this school of excellence.

“He brought to Mtunthama, the best possible materials like strongest bricks and hardest timber to build the academy that was to last for generations. He also brought to it best possible pupils, highest scoring boys and girls from each district,” Wild had said, while asking the President if the initiative of having government sponsored students to the institution should continue.

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