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Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda was the first president of Malawi. He ruled the country with an iron fist. Banda ruled Malawi from 1963 to 1994. Banda was born in Nyasaland in kasungu district. Kamuzu parents were subsistence farmers. In the early years he attended a mission school in his village. At the age of 20 he left for Zimbabwe armed with savings and faith. From Zimbabwe he moved to South Africa. While in South Africa he worked as a translator and worked in a mines in south Africa. He also worked as a sweeper at a local hospital.
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Dr Hastings the Family Man
Hastings kept information about his date of birth as a closed secret. He was born in 1898. Bu his death certificate indicates that he was born on 4 May in 1906. The name of his father was Mphonongo Banda and his mother was Akuphingaminyama Phiri. Kamuzu parents were subsistence farmers from Kasungu. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church. Kamuzu did not get married. He lived with the official hostess Miss Cecilia Kadzamira Tamanda a Zimbabwean nurse.
Education and Profession
Hastings Banda studied evening school at Lovedela College in South Africa for eight years. While working in South Africa he received a scholarship to study in the United States of America. With help from Bishop William T. Vernon Banda he went to USA. Later Kamuzu attended different Universities in the USA and United Kingdom. He studied at Academy of Wilberforce in Ohio, Indiana University in Bloomington, University of Chicago and Meharry Medical College in Nashville, and University of Glasgow. Dr Hastings got his PhD in Tropical Medicine in 1944 at the University of Glasgow. Kamuzu later worked as a physician in Liverpool UK and later in Ghana.
Dr Hastings the politician
The colonial rulers declared a state of emergency in 1959. During this period Banda was imprisoned for some months.
Dr Hastings was the first president of Malawi. Kamuzu Banda was president of Malawi congress party (MCP). In 1960 Banda went to London to discuss the new constitution for Nyasaland. On 1 February 1963 he was appointed the prime minister. Under his leadership he imposed an autocratic regime in Malawi. Malawi was the only country which maintained economic and political ties with the apartheid South African government. Kamuzu declared that he is the life president of Malawi. In 1975 he banned wearing of min-skirts for women and long hair for men. During Kamuzu era religious groups who refused to join Malawi congress party were victimized. Priorities for Banda regime included building of the country’s infrastructure and food security.
The fall of Dr Hastings
Colonial rulers and donor partners forced Banda to accept multiparty system of government. Despite his old age the Malawi dictator was not willing to put down power. When the first multiparty elections were held in Malawi MCP lost election to another United Democratic Front (UDF). Banda lost the presidential elections on 17 June 1994. Bakili Muluzi become the new president of Malawi. Few months later Kamuzu was under house arrest.
The former Malawi leader died on 25 November 1997 in South Africa at the age of 99. There is a public holiday, Kamuzu day were Malawians remember the contributions of Dr Hastings Banda.