History Of Malawi

The Significance of 25th November

Development House (far right)

Dr. Kamuzu Banda was a medical practitioner and politician who was allegedly born in 1898 in Nyasaland (Kasungu district). He left Nyasaland in 1915 as young man for Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, USA, Britain and Ghana where he worked and studied for over 40 years.

He returned to Nyasaland on 6 July 1958 to lead the struggle for independence. In March 1959 a state of emergency was declared, and he was imprisoned by the British colonial authorities. He was released in April 1960.

Upon leading the Malawi Congress Party into victory during the general elections held in August 1961, for the Government of Nyasaland, Dr. Kamuzu Banda served as Minister of Natural Resources and Local Government (1961-63) and Prime Minister (1963-64).

After independence on 6th July 1964, for the Government of Malawi, he served as Prime Minister (1964-1966), President (1966-71), Life President (1971-94).  Furthermore, for many years he simultaneously appointed himself as Minister of External Affairs, Minister of Defence, Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Justice, Minister of Works and Supplies, Minister of Women’s and Children’s Affairs and Minister of Community Services. He did not have deputies in all these portfolios let alone someone to deputise him as head of state.

He was voted out of office in the general elections held in May 1994, and in 1996 he relinquished the leadership of the Malawi Congress Party. Dr. Kamuzu Banda died in Johannesburg on 25 November 1997.

Besides being the day when Dr. Kamuzu Banda passed away, the 25 November is also significant to the history of Malawi as it happens to be the very day when a six-story building in the heart of Blantyre called the Development House, was officially opened by Dr. Kamuzu Banda. That was in 1966 barely four months after Dr. Banda was sworn in as President of the Republic of Malawi.

Then described as a symbol of future prosperity of Malawi, this building was constructed in 15 months at an estimated cost of 170,000 British Pounds.  Among others, the building hosted shops and the offices of the Ministry of External Affairs, Israeli Embassy and Danish Consulate and other government departments.

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