Kamuzu remembered with mixed feelings: Muluzi asks Malawi govt to take over event
With his Homburg hats, his three-piece English-style suits, and his lion-tail fly whisk, Hastings Kamuzu Banda was one of the oddest dictators in African history. Malawi led by Kamuzu family on Thursday May 14, Kamuzu Day public holiday, celebrated the life of the country’s founding president with mixed feelings.
During the commemorations, held in Lilongwe for the first time after previously only being hosted in the late Kamuzu’s home district of Kasungu,
In his remarks, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe who represented President Peter Mutharika, hailed Kamuzu—who ruled under the one-party dictatorship from 1964 to 1994— saying he was a “visionary leader” who developed the nation.
Gondwe branded Kamuzu as a greats “statesman” who always wanted the best out of those who worked with him.
He said there are many lessons one could learn from Kamuzu such as his disciplinarian character and the decent dressing.
“We also learned the tenacity and determination to have things done. As an individual, each time I was with Kamuzu, regardless of how short [the period was], I learned something new,” Gondwe said.
The event had all the ingredients of a Kamuzu family affair.
In his speech, Bakili Muluzi, Malawi’s second president and Kamuzu’s successor, asked government to take over organisation of the event because Kamuzu was a national figure.
“Let me ask government to take over arrangements for Kamuzu day from the family because this is a very important [national] day,” said Muluzi who also worked as Kamuzu second-in-command.
“Let us leave politics aside and look ahead,” he added.
Muluzi commended the Kamuzu family from Chiwengo village in Kasungu, for organising the event and bringing unity amongst Malawians, saying that was a befitting way of celebrating Kamuzu’s life.
Besides Muluzi, Kamuzu’s long-time consort Mama Cecilia Kadzamira known as “official hostess”, former vice-presidents Khumbo Kachali (2012 to 2014) and Justin Malewezi (1994 to 1999), former Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president John Tembo and former Speaker of Parliament Louis Chimango were also in attendance.
MCP president and leader of opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera, Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya, leader of People’s Party (PP) in Parliament Uladi Mussa and retired chief justice Lovemore Munlo were also present.
However, there were mixed views from people who attended the event and others in the streets.
A cross section of Malawians who Nyasa Times interviewed, mostly the older generation, remembered Kamuzu as the “ruler” who banned women from wearing trousers or mini-skirts. He prohibited kissing in public. He ordered haircuts for long-haired tourists. He censored the mail, jailed his opponents, declared himself President-for-Life and ruled Malawi for three decades until the age of 96, when his countrymen finally wearied of his totalitarian reign.
Kamuzu was an eccentric medical doctor who called himself Ngwazi (“the conqueror”) and founded an Eton-style academy to teach Latin and Greek to his people.
He is seen as the founder of Malawi because he was its ruler when it gained independence from Britain in 1964. He even coined the country’s name. Yet under his rule, thousands of innocent people were jailed, exiled or killed.
“He built hospitals, schools, universities – it’s all because of him. The roads you travel, the development that you see in Malawi today – it’s all because of this man,” remarked one MCP supporter.
“Yes, he was a dictator,” she said. “But it was an era of dictators. To err is human.”
“Most of the atrocities in that time were actually done by people around him,” she added. “When he was angry, he would say, ‘I don’t like this person, remove him.’ People would misinterpret it and torture the person and jail him.”
The Kamuzu family under the Chendawaka clan was represented by former minister of Defence Ken Kandodo, Rose Chilemba and Pastor Jane Dzanjalimodzi, among other family members.
The celebrations started with notable figures laying wreaths to the tomb of Kamuzu at the Mausoleum in City Centre where the ‘Lion of Malawi’ lies.
Ken Kandodo laid the wreaths representing the Kamuzu family who was then followed by Francis Perekamoyo who represented the Kamuzu Academy, while member of parliament for Kasungu South East, Khumbize Kandodo, laid the wreath representing the grand children.
Kamuzu, who is believed to have been born on February 15 1898, died at a South African hospital on November 25 1997. He ruled Malawi from July 6 1964 to May 21 1994.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :
Soon after and before taking government,Bakili used to tell us how bad Kamuzu was.Today he wants us to believe he was a hero.Why did his govt not continue with the commemorations?
We bear testimony to the atrocities that were committed by Kamuzu.People died and has-beens like Muluzi must not distort facts for political or economic gain. Muluzi celebrated about Orton Chirwa arrest
When I used to encounter such provoking statements as : Malawians are political lepers of Africa and laughing stock of the World,I become agitated,but now,I have a different sentiment.We are in fact,more than that.How would Malawians after 30 long years of enslavement and dehumanized by a foreign- born Frankenstein monster still revere him even in his grave?Many people talk of development,what development? I remember when in exile,seeing many young people flocking into Zambia and Tanzania in search of jobs which they could not get in their own country.If people talk of development,they don’t talk of Univesties and other institutions or… Read more »
For sure, the history of Malawi need to be re written. It was not a one one man show leading to independence as many people were forced believe during the dark days of Kamuzu. I wish Orton Chirwa was alive to tell us how did he arrive to come up with the name of Malawi when he formed Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the name that was later adopted when the British granted the country its independence on 6, July 1961. Who really was Kamuzu who dared not to speak any african language? Someone asked a very important question here that… Read more »
Please go back up school !!
Kamuzu was a dictator period, those who were too poor never crossed his path they may think he was a good man but he was happy with your poverty, tell me if thats a good leader, those who were rich perished or were made poor they have a different story to tell and Kamuzu name is as bad as hell,if you were his tribe mate( chewa) and poor or and brainless you ought to think he was a good man bcoz u lived well. He made bloody developments where people were slain not to question his expenditure and extravagance so… Read more »
That man u call kamuzu torched to death the whole village thats why he did not visit mangochi for 22yrs. kamuzu killed four ministers, he sent to exile all educated sons of malawi. all mboni za yehova were persecuted, nepotism started with him, wemen were abused.
Yes! U can praise kamuzu in so many ways. Bt remember some of us lost our parents and relatves pa zithu zimene sanachite, very painful indeed. Mr Lihoma still suffering in pains. GOD ALONE.
Ndakoma lero? Sumati ndine nkhuku ya mikolongwe? Sumati ndili magazi mmanja? Lero ndiye ukuti chiani? Koma ngati zikoli analipatsa dzina ndi Orton pezani lina dzina anthu anga.
Kamuzu Banda was a great leader whether you like it or not. Almost all the schools, roads, hospitals palaces, etc were built by him. Which are these thousands that you say were killed? Can you please release a list of them and where they were buried. My village doesn’t have a single grave of a person killed by Kamuzu. Most of the people jailed were political opponents. Bingu arrested over 30 people including Bakili, Atupele, Ralph Kasambara, Kennedy Makwangwala, Ayironi, etc. Kamuzu ruled when the world was divided between East and West. It was the cold war era and very… Read more »
Ndakoma lero? Sumati ndine nkhuku ya mikolongwe? Sumati ndili magazi mmanja? Lero ndiye ukuti chiani?
Why was Kamuzu the only Banda in his family?
Bakili Muluzi… this man, dont trust him. it very true we need to remember Kamuzu but is should not come from Bakili Muluzi. no no no no no …