Tribute to Mary Nangwale: Malawi’s first woman police chief

While death is a sad blow, the traits we draw in life are worth knitting a standing celebratory story. Yes, a chronicle of motivation, inspiration, reflection and meditation as the circus cycle of life keeps rolling.

Last post for Mary Nangwale
Last post for Mary Nangwale

Mary Nangwale, the former Inspector General of the Malawi Police Service, was a woman and a half. Her life, a mixed bag like the rest of us but circumstances refined her finesse and underlines her definition in the ranks and files of the Malawi Police Service as well as the government of Malawi. The iron lady is gone, as she sleeps her legacy echoes are aloud across the world.

Step by step she steadily rose the ladders in the Malawi Police Service since joining it in 1972 and with time after amassing a 32 year long active experience in the police, she got a presidential nod to head the Police in September 2004.

History was made, she became the first woman in this part of Africa to be the Inspector General of the Police but this triumph was brief as parliamentary jabs bruised her appointment and floored her confirmation in April 2005. Not that she did not deserve it, but the male dominated political atmosphere was at its roughest peak with the opposition block trying to outwit a minority ruling league with every savage punch at its disposal.

Then, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) were bed fellows and fought foot and nail to clobber a new kid on the block in the name of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which was formed after President Bingu wa Mutharika ditched the UDF despite winning the presidency on its ticket.

The political turbulence made Mary Nangwale a victim of circumstances. In solidarity, the then MCP Secretary General Kate Kainja resigned from MCP in protest of parliament’s denial of Nangwale’s confirmation.

The political arena was at cross roads. The battle was real that it was further wrestled in the courts and the final hammer that upheld the parliamentary vote to dismiss Nangwale as the top cop was slammed by the Supreme Court of Appeal.

However, she made some quick remarkable strides to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Malawi Police and a major attribute was the introduction the 997 rapid response and toll free lines which were instrumental in declining the crime rate in the year 2005.

Not only that, but the sanity in traffic control on the roads and the corrupt syndicates involving motorists and cops were dealt with. At some point in time whilst holding the portfolio of Police Inspector General, Nangwale could single handedly be on the ground to enforce the law, be it apprehending insane minibus drivers or indeed thugs.

She was a full pack, yes, a woman and a half that stood shoulders high hovering in a male dominated society and institution. This did not make her back off, she simply shook the dust and stood much more stronger hence decorated by the media as ‘the iron lady’. That was Mary Nangwale nee Mvula for you.

Perhaps it is this prowess, focus and determination that made Bingu believe more in her potential in his drive to be a champion of women empowerment. Bingu could not simply bury Nangwale’s potential prematurely. He knew her worth and went ahead to appoint her as First Secretary (Political Affairs) at the Malawi High Commission in London, a portfolio she held until June 2012.

Yes, she might have registered some controversies and crossed-paths with other people either in her professional or personal life, but just like the rest of us, we are not immune of such. Perhaps that’s the reason we are human, obviously subjected to various shortfalls in life as we seek perfection.

Much as the times were hard, such times made Mary smarter and she made it through to the top. With that legacy, the no-nonsense Mary Nangwale breathed her last at Mwaiwathu Hospital in Blantyre on Sunday, 18th September as an ordained pastor of the Living Waters Church.

Scores of people and dignitaries from across the world mourn and celebrate the life of the iron lady, Malawi’s first ever female to hold the portfolio of Inspector General of Police.  Mary is gone but her life remains testimony, an inspiration, a motivation and a point of reflection.

Her body bound at the Limbe CCAP Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon, 20th September 2016 but her legacy is still fresh and it shall keep breathing now and for the generations to come.

Good bye Mary, until we meet again, rest well.

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5 years ago

I like this. This is beautiful. Rest well the Malawi Iron Lady – Mary Mvula Nangwale.

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