Following the cabinet crisis of 1964, several political parties were established by exiled Malawians to oppose the dictatorial regime of Dr. Kamuzu Banda having consolidated his grip on Malawi.
One of these political parties was the Socialist League of Malawi (LESOMA) which was founded in 1974. LESOMA emerged to become the most vibrant opposition political party which had allegedly managed to recruit members across Malawi including employees in the civil service and the university.
Under the leadership of Dr. Attati Mpakati, LESOMA started an educational programme targeting young people from Malawi to pursue tertiary education in various fields in USSR and Eastern Europe in preparation for a possible takeover of government in Malawi.
The LESOMA’s educational programme commenced in 1977 with the first batch of students comprising of the following: Tojo Msowoya (USSR), Richard Nkhwazi and Vyande Chisiza (Germany). The second batch was dispatched to USSR in 1978 comprising of Sute Mwakasungura, Dave Marama, James Mhango and Ali Sikelo.
Tojo Msowoya served as a LESOMA representative in USSR based in Moscow and the facilitator on the ground for the enrollment of LESOMA cadres into various colleges and universities in USSR. He had personal friends in the USSR politi-bureau and worked closely with the Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee that offered scholarship for LESOMA students. It is reported that Tojo Msowoya later married Orton and Vera Chirwa’s daughter and now lives in Canada.
The third group had the following names: Grant Sichali, Emily Munthali, Paul Munyenyembe. Later on a larger group was dispatched to USSR comprising of names like Khoti Kamanga, Rosemary Chalira, Bakwiza Mvula, Khwauli Msiska, Kwacha Chisiza, Sheila Marama, Isyu Mwakasungula, Ms Chemale, Humphrey Gondwe.
Others under this group went to Bulgaria like Max Mandere Gondwe, Chisuse Somanje, Michael Mponda, Frank Jewa Jewa, Derrick Nkosana, Dazika Michongwe,Robin Waliya, John Chalira, Eunice Chalira, Mc Donald Kasambara, Elizabeth Chipofya, Egson Kubwalo, Tekha Nkhwazi etc.
For one to be eligible to acquire scholarship under LESOMA, you had to be an active member of LESOMA with good O’level certificate and be willing to return after completing studies to wage the struggle against Dr. Kamuzu Banda regime.
Some of the students ended up obtaining Masters’ degrees and PhDs like Sute Mwakasungura, Dr. Paul Munyenyembe, Prof. Khoti Kamanga and others. Furthermore, some of those who accessed tertiary education through LESOMA have occupied various key positions in both government and civil society movement since 1994.
These include: Khwauli Msiska (former cabinet minister) and Ali Sikelo who served as Members of Parliament, Ms Tijulane Michongwe Chizumila who became the first female Ombudsman in Malawi, Ms Nettie Dzabara who lectures at College of Medicine, Ollen Mwalubunju the Executive Director for National Initiative for Civic Education, Sute Mwakasura the Executive Director for Small Scale Livestock and Livelihood Programme, Undule Mwakasungura a renowned civil society activist among others.