Mutharika calls for education revolution in Africa: Addresses Oxford Union

President Peter Mutharika made history on Friday, by becoming the first Malawian President and second Southern African to address the Oxford Union, where he called for a “change in mindset” to fix historical wrongs of colonial education.

President Mutharika answers questions from the audience

Memorial potrait picture for the Presidents visit to Oxford.

The President after the weclome meeting

The President, an accomplished academic himself, who last gave his lecture at Oxford as a guest lecturer at Herford College in 2007, told students and an array distinguished audience that included a High Court Judge at the Crown Courts, that African education was “designed disempower Africans.”

“For Africa, and much of the developing world, this question is imperative because for more than a century, our education was designed to disempower and stagnate us. In a sense, the African situation is a product of its education.

“Education was an imperial weapon for domination,” said President Mutharika as African students nodded in agreement.

He said education is the software of any society that it programmes  every human being to see the world the way they do and conduct themselves, arguing that Africans should ask themselves the type of education they want to offer for them to develop.

“On 2nd February 1835, Lord Thomas Macaulay presented a Minute on Indian Education in the British Parliament. He proposed the use of education in order to create Indians who are “Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.” This is how human psychology in the colonies was programmed,” he said.

He said the spirit of the continent was captured and killed which was a genocide of the spirit that has resulted to this day many Africans being driven by the belief that everything foreign and Western is greater than their own.

“The worst is that we lost ourselves. Many lost faith in themselves and the cardinal truth that the salvation of Africa can only be led by Africans. We were made to forget that nobody owes us their existence and that whatever charity comes to Africa is nothing but charity,” he said.

He said for a long time, every student who went to school in Malawi was supposed to know who discovered the Congo River or Lake Malawi. This is the kind of education colonialism left and was adopted for a long time. In other instances, one was supposed to be able to dissect an insect and label its parts. In that process, you would qualify a person and certify them as educated. But what is the use of such education, he asked.

“This colonization of the mind was supported by well-founded institutions, including universities. The university was the major factory for producing discourses that shaped and dominated the colonized mind,” charged Mutharika.

He said it was up to Africans to decide the type of education they need to economically emancipate generations whose past education was designed to dominate them.

The President said his administration has made a commitment to move education from only qualifications and certification of the people to empowering people with skills that aims at building capabilities in the people.

He said by establishing community colleges and programmes aimed at empowering young women, his Government was keen to expand education for the majority.

Mutharika’s engagement at Oxford makes him the second Southern African to address the  Oxford Union after Archbishop Desmond Tutu emeritus. Other iconic figures that have addressed the Union include Albert Einstein in 1933, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton of the USA, Mother Theresa and Malcom X.

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You are a very wise African. We need our own education. Others should one day copy from us. Only Africans are copying from others.


Malawians tasiyani kuwapopa ma students ndi aziphunzitsi a ku Chanco.
University of Malawi is not Chanco. Three constituency colleges namely Poly, college of medicine and KCN are operational. Why only Chanco? Vuto liri ku Chancoko. The Chancellor, the president, the minister or the council are not the problem. Ngati mufuna kuphunzira inu a ku Chanco, siyani ulukhu.

winston msowoya
What a hypocratic man? If Muthalika knows that education is a good foundation and is part of a Human right,why then he is trying to educationally oppress the people of the North by imposing the notorious QUOTA SYSTEM? During San Francisco Calif.Conference held in 1945 which promulgated the Charter of the United Nations,stated that every human being is entitled to free education,this is where HUMAN RIGHTS COME IN.But in Malawi,section of the population,is segregated on tribalistically motivated and almost looks like BANTU EDUCATION in former APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA.So,the trip to the UK,Muthalika did not achieve anything but,lied to his audience.In… Read more »

It’s been a long time since someone made me laugh my lungs out.


Its like a man leaves home with no food and found himself in tearoom with friends. Only if the Lecturing was to be done in one of malawi’s college i would have supported your idealogies. The lecture has been given to wrong people come home open Chanco. I have never seen such a useless leader in my life.

Mangochi Kabwafu

Very few in the UK knows who this guy is, let alone a country called Malawi. I am a Malawian living in the UK and only learnt about the visit through nyasatimes.

This APM man is a Muslim. He is despising western education as Muslims do. Ever heard of BOKO HARAM? It is Arabic but do you know what it means in English? It means “Western Education is bad and prohibited”. The African students who were nodding at APM’s talk are from Muslim world. Why did he have to go through Western education himself? When did he realize that it’s bad, programmed to disempower Africa? This kind of approach Mr President is counterproductive. Skills (which your community colleges peddle) without abstract thinking are useless. Tread carefullly with your community colleges – don’t… Read more »

A man of words but no action is like an empty tin. You much noise but no impact. Iam not impressed until he solves the chanco saga and teachers sit in. He is rendering a deaf ear regardless of the masses outcry. What manner of a leader is he. Good leaders are Good listerners. Alhomwe kukula mtima ndi makani eishhhhh…


Tyipical of comments from disguntled, biased and unpatriotic persons.


Chanco closed over 6 months and teachers are on strike and somebody wants to champion education in Africa. Eeeeee Malawi has a leader


Which teachers now?. You mean these heartless CHANCO teachers?. Let those who want more money leave and do buainess or join private sector.


Education in Malawi badly needs to change but don’t blame colonialism more than 50 years after independence.

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