Famous Person

Hastings Kamuzu Banda

Hastings Kamuzu Banda

Medical Practitioner, Politician and First President of Malawi

He led Malawi to independence from the British protectorate of Nyasaland in 1964.

Year of Birth  14 May 1906 (Banda’s birthday was officially given as May 14, 1906, but he was believed to have been born before the turn of the century)
Place of Birth Kasungu, Malawi
Year of Death 25 November 1997
Place of Death Johannesburg, South Africa
Burial Banda Mausoleum Lilongwe, Malawi
Period of Presidency 1964-1994
Political Parties Nyasaland African Congress (NAC), Malawi Congress Party (MCP)

Main Political Career

1961-63 Minister of Natural Resources and Local Government, Nyasaland
1963-66 Prime Minister of Malawi
1966-94 President of Malawi
1971-94 Life President of Malawi

Educational and Medical Career

Hastings Kamuzu Banda was born to subsistence farmers of the Chewa tribe in the Kasungu District of Nyasaland (now Malawi) and received his earliest education at the Church of Scotland’s Livingstonia Mission school.

After working in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa, he had left Africa for educational opportunity in the United States in 1925.

He earned a high school diploma from Wilberforce Institute in 1928 and worked as a Bantu language adviser until he earned a B.A. at the University of Chicago in 1931.

He then received a medical degree at Meharry Medical College in Tennessee in 1937.

In order to achieve the qualifications needed to practice in the British protectorate, he continued his studies at the University of Edinburgh in 1941 and subsequently practiced in northern England and London from 1945 to 1953.

In 1953-58 he went to Ghana as a physician, but from 1956 he was under increasing pressure from Nyasa nationalists to return, and he returned to Nyasaland on July 6, 1958.

Political Career

On August 1, 1958, he was elected president of the Nyasaland African Congress (now Malawi Congress Party) in opposition to White rule in the Central African Federation.

Mounting anti-federation riots led to a state of emergency on March 3, 1959, and he was imprisoned by the British colonial authorities in Southern Rhodesia for 13 months and released in April 1960.

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) won the general elections held in August in 1961.

He served as minister of natural resources and local government in 1961-63.

On February 1, 1963, he became the first prime minister and led the country to independence as Malawi on July 6, 1964.

Presidency (1966-1994)

On July 6, 1966, he proclaimed Malawi a republic, appointing himself Malawi’s first president.

Malawi’s 1966 constitution established a one-party state under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which in turn was controlled by Banda, who consistently and ruthlessly suppressed any opposition.

He was declared president for life in 1971 and succeeded in establishing total control over the political system.

As a leader, he concentrated on improving women’s rights and the country’s infrastructure, especially the road and railway networks, increasing agricultural productivity in the estate sector (which produced tobacco, tea, and sugar) and maintaining a relatively good educational system.

He established friendly trading relations with the apartheid government of 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.

For more than 10 years, Malawi was able to prosper economically before being felled by a confluence of external factors.

On March 8, 1992, a pastoral letter written by Malawian Catholic bishops expressing concern at the poor state of human rights, poverty, and their effects on family life was read in churches throughout Malawi.

This act served to encourage underground opposition groups that had long waited for an opportunity to mount an open and vigorous campaign for multiparty democracy.

By the end of 1992, two internally based opposition parties, the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) and the United Democratic Front (UDF), had emerged, and Banda was forced by international pressure to concede democratic elections in 1994, which Banda was defeated by Bakili Muluzi of the UDF by a substantial margin.

He died in South Africa on 25 November 1997.

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