History Of Malawi

DR. KAMUZU BANDA’S HISTORIC RALLY AT MANJAWIRA.

Probably, one of the most memorable public addresses by Dr Kamuzu Banda would be that which he delivered on 13th February 1989 at Manjawira in Ntcheu after conducting a crop inspection in the district.

In his address, Dr Kamuzu Banda issued a directive that public school teachers working in the Southern and Central regions whose home of origin was the North, must be transferred to their home region with immediate effect.

In the same speech, Dr. Kamuzu Banda also announced that a group of people originally from the Northern region including some school teachers, had plotted a rebellion against the Malawi Government to the effect that they were agitating for the Northern region to secede from Malawi and then install the exiled KanyamaChiume as the head of state of the new republic.

Kanyama Chiume was one of the key leaders of the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC) from the mid-1950s and later Malawi Congress Party until 1964. He served as the Minister of Education, Minister of Information and Independence Celebrations and finally Minister of Foreign Affairs (1961-1964) before fleeing the country soon after being dismissed from cabinet by Dr. Kamuzu Banda in the wake of cabinet crisis of 1964.

Soon after this rally at Manjawira, there was a wave of detentions of those who were heard or suspected to have criticized Dr. Kamuzu Banda’s directive for the redeployment of teachers from Northern region to their home region. Prominent among these, was Dr. George Mtafu aged 47 the country’s only neurosurgeon who was trained in Germany then working at Queens Hospital in Blantyre.

Also detained was Thokozani Khonje, a 42-year-old Area Manager for Sugar Company of Malawi. He was arrested at Nchalo when he was having a drink with friends. Just like Dr. George Ntafu, he had been overheard stating that the abrupt redeployment of teachers was non-sensical and would possibly lead to the collapse of the education system.

Perhaps the most outrageous arrest was that of a student aged 14 called Bright Nyasulu.   According to Prof. Jack Mapanje’s memoir (2011) And Crocodiles Are Hungry At Night, while playing with his peers, he had made some negative remarks against Dr. Kamuzu Banda’s directive to repatriate teachers back to their region of origin in the North.

One of his peers happened to have a father who was an intelligence officer. While having dinner later in the evening, this kid told his father what his peer Bright Nyasulu had said at a playing ground earlier on. The special branch police didn’t take long to nab this 14-year-old Bright Nyasulu and locked him at Mikuyu Prison where he joined other ‘rebels’ such as Dr. George Ntafu, Prof. Jack Mapange, Brown Mpinganjira and others.

Bright Nyasulu was probably the youngest to have been arrested as a high-profile political prisoner of Dr. Kamuzu Banda.

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