History Of Malawi

Remembering Sidney Somanje

By Inno Chanza.

Sidney Somanje was born in 1908 in Blantyre, he was trained at HHI and became a teacher at the same institution.

Somanje in 1944 was a founding member of Nyasaland African Congress which elected Levi Mumba as the 1st President and Issa Lawrence Mcdonald as Treasurer General.

On 30th June 1959, Sidney Somanje was among the 5 people who formed the Malawi Congress Party at Shadreck Khonje’s house in Blantyre. The others were Shadreck Khonje, Augustine Mthambala, Ceciwa Bwanausi and Ngelesi Mwaungulu.

After the 1964 cabinet crisis Dr Banda approached Sidney Somanje to take over the post of Treasurer General of MCP after Henry Chipembere resigned and mounted his 5 months long uprising.

Sidney Somanje served as the Treasurer General of MCP from 1964 to 1986 when he died.

When Press Trust was formed in early 70s, Dr Banda held all the shares of the Trust and a single share was held by Aleke Banda.

In 1973, Aleke Banda was expelled from MCP and was detained. His single share had to be transferred to Sidney Somanje.

Dr Banda respected Somanje till his death and regarded him as an upright man.

The likes of Gwanda Chakwamba et al… used to ran to Somanje for advice whenever they committed political blunders.

Sidney Somanje also served as Minister at large.

His brothers opened one of the oldest bars in Blantyre still standing at the old Blantyre “bus stands”.

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