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'Dictatorial Legacy': Malawians Mark Kamuzu Banda Day

May 14 is Kamuzu Day - the official birthday of Malawi's first president, the late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, a leader known for his ir...

May 14 is Kamuzu Day - the official birthday of Malawi's first president, the late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, a leader known for his iron rule in the Southern Africa state. 

Kamuzu's kinfolk, the Chendawaka Family has organised a memorial service and a gospel music festival at Kamuzu's home in Kasungu District.

This public holiday-albeit enjoyed by the whole nation for 30 years, was first banned when the country attained multiparty democracy in 1993 but was reverted by former President, late Bingu wa Mutharika in 2009. 
The Late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda 

But it does not enjoy the same pomp it used to have when Kamuzu was alive such as the military guard of honour and parade at Kamuzu Stadium and the traditional dances later at Sanjika Palace.

That the more reason why the Chendawaka Family decided that they should organise their own activities to celebrate the life and achievement of this Father and Founder of the Malawi Nation, a title he was fondly used to be described by in his 30-year rule of Malawi.

There is the grammar school, Kamuzu Academy that has greatly contributed the elite professionals in the country's industry, the Kamuzu International Airport, the meandering Blantyre-Chikwawa and the Kacheche-Chiweta roads. 

Also there is the Chiromo Bridge in Nsanje that catered for both railway and vehicles. Then there is Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre which he upgraded and added to it the special wing - Gogo Chatinkha Martenity Wing, the Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe and all the hospitals across the country.

But why was the holiday banned in the first place? When people were fighting for multiparty democracy at the beginning of 1993, Kamuzu was demonised just to disenchant him from the masses because the one-party leady exuded a certain aura on his people and was worshipped as an iconic father-figure. 

The opposition had to demonise almost everything around him in order to entice people to vote en-masse against Malawi Congress Party for the 1993 Referendum and the 1994 General Elections. Thus the opposition mounted attractive de-campaigning slogans against Kamuzu which won the sympathy of the masses.

But, as is the culture in Malawi, the dead are always respected. When Kamuzu died on25th of November 1997, he was glorified for the good things we see and the nation was told to forget the alleged evil that was rumoured about him.

Former South Africa President, late Nelson Mandela, described Kamuzu as a 'liberator', for "supporting and funding the Liberation Front in Zimbabwe" and that when Mandela was released from prison "Dr. Banda sent him a huge sum of money which he did not request for".

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." - Online Sources

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