Hastings Kamuzu Banda was born on May 14, 1898 at Kasungu, Kasungu, Malawi.
Hastings Kamuzu Banda was born on May 14, 1898 at Kasungu, Kasungu, Malawi.
Around 1915–16 Banda left home on foot with Hanock Msokera Phiri, an uncle who had been a teacher at the nearby Livingstonia mission school, for Hartley, Southern Rhodesia (now Chegutu, Zimbabwe). In 1917 he left on foot for Johannesburg in South Africa. He worked at the Witwatersrand Deep Mine on the Transvaal Reef for several years. During this time, he met Bishop W. T. Vernon of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) who offered to pay his tuition fee at a Methodist school in the United States if he could pay his own passage. In 1925, he left for New York.
Banda studied in the high school section of Wilberforce Institute, an African American AME college, now known as Central State University, in Wilberforce, Ohio, and graduated in 1928. With his financial support now ended Banda earned some money on speaking engagements arranged by the Ghanaian educationalist Kweyir Aggrey, whom he had met in South Africa.
Speaking at a Kiwanis club meeting he met Dr. Herald, with whose help he enrolled as a pre-medical student at Indiana University, where he lodged with Mrs. W.N. Culmer. At Bloomington he wrote several essays about his native Chewa tribe for the folklorist Stith Thompson who introduced him to Edward Sapir, an anthropologist at the University of Chicago, to which, after four semesters, he transferred.
During his period there he collaborated with the Afro-American anthropologist and linguist Mark Hanna Watkins, providing information on the Chichewa language. In Chicago he lodged with an African-American; Corinna Saunders. He majored in history, graduating with a B. Phil. in 1931. During this time he enjoyed financial support from Mrs. Smith, whose husband, Douglas Smith, had made fortunes from patent medicines and Pepsodent toothpaste and as a member of the Eastman Kodak board. He then, still with financial support from these and other benefactors (including Dr. Walter B. Stephenson of the Delta Electric Company), studied medicine at Meharry Medical College in Tennessee, from which he graduated in 1937.
To practice medicine in territories of the British Empire, however, Banda was apparently required to get a second medical degree; he attended the University of Edinburgh and was subsequently awarded a Triple Qualification in 1941, giving him the post-nominals LRCP(Edin), LRCS(Edin), LRFPS(Glas). His studies were funded by stipends of 300 pounds per year from the government of Nyasaland (to facilitate his return there as a doctor) and from the Scottish Presbyterian Kirk; neither of these benefactors was aware of the other. (There are conflicting accounts of this. He may still have been funded by Mrs. Smith.) When he enrolled for courses in tropical diseases in Liverpool the Nyasaland government terminated his stipend. He was forced to leave Liverpool when he refused on conscientious grounds to be conscripted as an Army doctor.He also became an elder of the Church of Scotland.
Banda first became involved in his homeland’s politics in the late 1940s, when white settlers in the region demanded the federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland. Banda and others in Nyasaland strongly objected to this extension of white dominance, but the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was nevertheless established in 1953. In 1953–58 Banda practiced medicine in Ghana, but from 1956 he was under increasing pressure from Nyasa nationalists to return; he finally did so, to a tumultuous welcome, in 1958. As president of the Nyasaland African Congress, he toured the country making antifederation speeches, and the colonial government held him partly responsible for increasing African resentment and disturbances. In March 1959 a state of emergency was declared, and he was imprisoned by the British colonial authorities. He was released in April 1960, and a few months later he accepted British constitutional proposals granting Africans in Nyasaland a majority in the Legislative Council. Banda’s party won the general elections held in August 1961. He served as minister of natural resources and local government in 1961–63, and he became prime minister in 1963, the year the federation was finally dissolved. He retained the post of prime minister when Nyasaland achieved independence in 1964 under the name of Malawi.
Shortly after independence, some members of Banda’s governing cabinet resigned in protest against his autocratic methods and his accommodation with South Africa and the Portuguese colonies. In 1965 a rebellion broke out—led by Henry Chipembere, one of these former ministers—but it failed to take hold in the countryside. Malawi became a republic in 1966, with Banda as president. He headed an austere, autocratic one-party regime, maintained firm control over all aspects of the government, and jailed or executed his opponents. He was declared president for life in 1971. Banda concentrated on building up his country’s infrastructure and increasing agricultural productivity. He established friendly trading relations with minority-ruled South Africa (to the disappointment of other African leaders) as well as with other countries in the region through which landlocked Malawi’s overseas trade had to pass. His foreign-policy orientation was decidedly pro-Western.
Widespread domestic protests and the withdrawal of Western financial aid forced Banda to legalize other political parties in 1993. He was voted out of office in the country’s first multiparty presidential elections, held in 1994, and in 1996 he relinquished the leadership of the Malawi Congress Party.
According to Africa Report, Banda "was flown to South Africa for emergency brain surgery on October 2. "
Shortly thereafter, however, a still-ailing Banda was declared well enough to resume power.
His body was returned to Malawi where a state funeral was held on December 3, 1997.
In 1922 Banda joined the American-run African Methodist Episcopal Church, and in 1925, with the support of Bishop W. T. Vernon, he went to the United States to study.
The end of the Cold War sounded the death knell for Banda's naked autocracy. Western leaders and international aid donors no longer had any use for Third World anti-communist dictatorships, all of which came under mounting pressure to democratize. Donors told Banda that he had to implement reforms aimed at making his government transparent and accountable to the people and the international community as a condition for further aid.
In April 1992, Chakufwa Chihana, a labor unionist, openly called for a national referendum on the political future of Malawi. He was arrested before he finished his speech at Lilongwe International Airport. By October 1992, this mounting pressure from within and from the international community forced Banda to concede to hold a referendum on whether to maintain the one-party state. The referendum was held on 14 June 1993, resulting in an overwhelming vote (64 percent) in favor of multiparty democracy. After this, political parties besides the MCP were formed and preparation for the general elections began. Banda worked with the newly forming parties and the church, and made no protest when a special assembly stripped him of his title of President for Life, along with most of his powers. The transition from a rigid authoritarian regime to democracy was fairly peaceful.
Opening ceremony for the Banda Mausoleum, 14 May 2006 – Lilongwe, Malawi Operation Bwezani was a Malawi Army operation to disarm the Malawi Young Pioneers at the height of the political transition in December 1993. Bwezani means "give back." The MYP had a strong network of spies and supporters countrywide at all levels in society. They were Banda's personal security bodyguards and were all trained and indoctrinated in Kamuzuism and military training. The Malawi Army did not infiltrate this group before receiving encouragement by protests by the people.
After some questions about his health, Banda ran in Malawi's first truly democratic presidential election in 1994. He was roundly defeated by Bakili Muluzi, a Yao from the southern region of the country.
The party Banda led since taking over from Orton Chirwa in 1960, the Malawi Congress Party, remains a major force in Malawian politics.
Banda had no known heirs but had a vast fortune that is run by his family. He was unmarried when he died. Cecilia Kadzamira was the official hostess or first lady of Malawi. She essentially ruled the country with her uncle, John Tembo, during Banda's last years. His affair and relationship with Merene French remains largely a mystery. He had rejected companionship and marriage and turned his back on the Englishwoman who bore his son. In 2010, Jumani Johansson claimed to be the son of the late president and is seeking DNA testing through the courts of Malawi. Grand niece Jane Dzanjalimodzi was the former executrix of his estate.