Family members of the country’s founding president the late Hastings Kamuzu Banda and officials from Malawi Congress Party (MCP) on Monday honoured the man regarded as the founder of the modern nation of Malawi while government officials and other political parties stayed away from the function.
MCP president Lazarus Chakwera fresh from being re-newed as presidential candidate during the party’s convention last weekend, took time with his two deputies Sidik Mia and Harry Mkandawire and other executive members to honour Kamuzu at his home in Kasungu on Kamuzu Day, which was declared a public holiday by government.
There was no official representation from government to commemorate this year’s Kamuzu Day celebrations in honour of the country’s ruler from independence in 1964 to 1994.
Ken Kandodo, Kamuzu’s great grandnephew, said though government officials were absent from the event, it went on well.
He said it is important to celebrate the life and achievement of the Father and Founder of the Malawi Nation, a title he was fondly used to be described by in his 30-year rule of Malawi, saying the ‘Ngwazi’ left a legacy more lasting than bronze.
“Most of Kamuzu projects are still visible today. He built the country’s only international airport; hydroelectric power stations that his successors are struggling to upgrade; he built most of the roads that connects the country’s four cities; he oversaw the most competent, organised and disciplined civil service that Malawi has ever had; he built the University of Malawi (the one the his successors are failing to run) and he built the two main referral hospitals that the country has,” Kandodo noted.
Kandodo said the family was discouraged by the absence of government representatives and other political parties.
However, Kandodo stressed that Kamuzu Day is an important and historic national event which must be remembered by the whole country.
Chakwera described the departed president as “a great leader whose legacy even we, in this generation, continuously inspires.”
Commenting on the significance of the event Moderator of Nkhoma Synod Reverend Biswick Nkhoma reignited Malawians to continue holding Kamuzu with the highest esteem he deserves.
” Kamuzu is a national hero of independence,” said Reverend Nkhoma.
Reverend Nkhoma decried corruption and high unemployment rate which he said is high in the country.
Kamuzu fact file
Kamuzu, who died on November 25 1997, was born in the Mphonongo Banda family of Kasungu. Between 1916 and1937, he pursued his studies until he graduated as a medical doctor.
He worked in the UK and Ghana before returning home on July6 1958 at the invitation of some Malawian nationalists to lead the struggle against the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. A month after his arrival in the country, he was made leader of the Nyasaland African Congress(NAC), a forerunner of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).He was well received across the country during his familiarisation tour as he campaigned for freedom from the British bondage.
By March 3 1959, the political situation in Malawi had become so untenable to the extent that a State of Emergency was declared, leading to Kamuzu’s arrest alongside hundreds other Malawians during what the colonialists dubbed as ‘Operation Sunrise’. He was imprisoned in Gwero, Zimbabwe(Southern Rhodesia).
Kamuzu was released from prison on April 1 1960 and following elections in 1961, he was nominated minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Local Government before becoming prime minister on February 11963. He became president on July6 1964 when the country gained its independence from Britain.
In 1966, a new Constitution of the Republic of Malawi was passed that made the country a one-party State with Dr Banda as the first President. He was later referred to as Life President until he was swept away by the wind of democratic change in 1994 following a ‘yes’ vote to plural politics in 1993.
On the eve of the 1993 Referendum, Kamuzu made an historic speech in which he said: “Go about your voting procedures in an orderly and dignified manner, respecting each other as Malawians have always done. You should all remember that how you conduct yourselves during and after the referendum is most important since it will not only show our level of maturity as a nation but whether we move forward as a nation or degenerate into chaos. We should remember that the greatness of a nation derives from the worthy actions of its people.” He signed off by his usual salutation: “Bwanas and Donas, you have my best wishes”.
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