President Peter Mutharika has naratted his political journey that saw him stay in United States of America for 40 years including being professor of law at Washington University.
Mutharika said in speech delivered at the Washington University community when he was honored with a Doctor of Humane Letters from the University, that he fled political persecution in Malawi and came to the United States to study as a young man.
“I came here to the United States in search of political refuge,” said Mutharika.
Mutharika said he has been a political activist in Malawi since he was a teenager.
“My political journey began with my fight against colonialism. The colonial government arrested me at the age of 19. But we conquered British colonialism and got our Independence,” he said.
Mutharika said despite gaining independence, the country entered “a dark tunnel of death and darkness” under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) rule.
“Malawi became a dictatorship within one year after Independence. I disagreed with the President at the time, and the government hunted my life.
“I fled my country together with my brother [late president Bingu wa Mutharika]. But I paid a painful price. One day, [MCP] government agents came and killed my father by beating him to death because he couldn’t tell them where we had gone. So, I was escaping from political persecution when I came to work in this University,” Mutharika stated.
Mutharika said Washington University and the St. Louis community gave him a home for 40 f years while he was in exile in the US.
“This is the place that fortified my spirit. This is the place that shaped my political thought. This is the place that consolidated my vision and inspired my activism for forty years of my life. This is the place where I raised my children,” he said.
Mutharika said while in exile he thought of Malawi as a “Promised Land” and was inspired by a long walk in the desert, where biblical Moses began the journey of a nation from suffering to prosperity.
“And I am driven by that stubborn belief that, one day, my country will become a great nation,” he said.
He said while in exile he never stopped fighting for democracy in Malawi.
Mutharika said he returned to Malawi and participated in drafting the first Constitution for democracy.
He maintained his anology that power is not status but responsibility.
“I believe leadership is not prestige but responsibility,” he said.
“Day and night, I am always mindful that my job as a leader is looking after millions of lives – including those who do not wish me well. And every life matters to me because every life is precious. This is what I call servant leadership,” said Mutharika.
Mutharika also spoke about his success in turning around the economy of Malawi and of the inspiration he found in the United States, especially at Washington University.
Malawian graduate student in public health at the Brown School of Social Work, Sithembile Chithenga, also spoke at the event.
“Coming to Washington University and seeing the high regard in which [Mutharika is] held by [his] former colleagues has been a source of inspiration for me, that someone like me can have an impact around the world,” Chithenga said.
Oswald Codjoe, a first-year Ph.D. student in political science from Ghana, pointed out that Mutharika’s speech “brought out a lot of emotions.”
Codjoe said: “For a lot of international students, having to travel from their home country to here to get an education and go back is something that most international students, at least in my case, want to do. Of course, he was under a lot more unique circumstances—having to flee from persecution—but the storyline really resonated with me.”
Mutharika is also the Charles Nagel Professor of International and Comparative Law Emeritus in Washington University’s law school, with expertise in international economic law, international law and comparative constitutional law.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :