The 23rd of this month of March this year, marks exactly 36 years after the assassination of one of the unsung heroes of Malawi and Africa at large, a progressive scholar, political leader, patriot and martyr by the name of Dr. Attati Mpakati (PhD).
Perhaps a brief contextual background would be necessary before zeroing in to portray what really Dr. Attati Mpakati represents as far as the history of Malawi is concerned.
In the wake of cabinet crisis of 1964, soon after the dismissals and resignations of Ministers from cabinet, then Prime Minister Dr. Kamuzu Banda summoned an emergency sitting of Parliament in Zomba from the 8 and 9 September 1964 during which he received an overwhelming vote of confidence.
Subsequently the ‘rebel’ Ministers and their sympathizers, were hunted down like rabid dogs by the youth leaguers and MYP cadres. As such, they had to flee for their lives to Tanzania, Zambia and beyond.
In response to this, several political parties were established by exiled Malawians to oppose the dictatorial regime of Dr. Kamuzu Banda having consolidated his grip on Malawi in the wake of cabinet crisis of 1964.
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 managed to clandestinely recruit members across Malawi including employees in the civil service and the university.
Dr. Attati Mpakati had actively participated in the struggle against colonialism in Nyasaland from the 1950s and left the country for further studies abroad before Nyasaland attained self-government status and independence.
For nine years, Dr. Attati Mpakati was the leader of LESOMA until his assassination in Harare on 23rd March 1983 by Dr. Kamuzu Banda’s assailants who had successfully infiltrated LESOMA. Dr Attati Mpakati was reported to be on his way from Maputo to visit his family in Sweden with a stopover in Harare for LESOMA assignments.
According to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), he was abducted on the 23 March 1983 right from his lodging room at Park Lane Hotel. The ZRP further reported that Dr Attati Mpakati had died of gunshot wounds and his dead body was found dumped in a ditch opposite the Park Lane Hotel.
He was buried at Warren Hills Cemetery, Grave number 337 E in Harare.
Sadly, his grave has no tombstone nor epitaph, not even his name written there for people to get to know who was laid to rest at that particular grave.
Important to note that Dr. Attati Mpakati had previously survived a letter bomb attack in February 1979 in Maputo which crippled both of his hands. In an open letter to Dr. Kamuzu Banda after this foiled assassination attempt, he told Dr. Kamuzu Banda that it was a waste of time spending the country’s resources trying to kill him.
He stressed with a prophetic tone that the people of Malawi were still going to oppose him whether he (Mpakati) lived or died, and democracy and justice were then on the agenda for the future of Malawi.
It is against this background that a memorial seminar for Dr. Attati Mpakati under the theme: Malawians In the Struggle for Democracy and Human Rights in Malawi: The Life & Times of Dr. Attati Mpakati has been organized to take place on Saturday the 23rd March 2019 at Crown Hotel in Lilongwe.
Those who worked closely with Dr. Attati Mpakati in LESOMA as leaders (Ambassador Kapote Mwakasungura and Mr. Frank Jiya); LESOMA students and youth cadres/organisers/veterans (Hon. Khwauli Msiska, Ollen Mwalubunju, Life Sanudi, Undule Mwakasungula, Fidelis Balakasi etc); representatives from Malawi Government, Family of Dr Attati Mpakati, civil society organizations, foreign embassies, academia, political parties, faith based organisations among others are expected to attend this memorial seminar. Some of these will deliver statements sharing their own recollections and experiences working with or under Dr Attati Mpakati in LESOMA.
At the same memorial event, the Lost History Foundation will beam a short clip from a video documentary on Dr Attati Mpakati which is currently being produced.
For further information, there is a intriguing audio documentary on Dr. Attati Mpakati which was produced in 2018 by a renowned journalist from MIJ FM Radio called Thomas Kachere under the auspices of the Lost History Foundation.
Click here to listen to the audio documentary.
A 52 year old man who grew up at Area 30 in Lilongwe in the 1970s and 80s as a son to a high ranking police officer working at the Police National Headquarters, has shared with the Lost History Foundation a testimony of what he could recollect around the story about the assassination of Dr. Attati Mpakati on 23 March 1983 in Harare, Zimbabwe.
He gives details of the characters who were behind the assassination of Dr. Attati Mpakati whom he personally knew and were peers with their own children.
He further explains how the whole operation to assassinate Dr. Attati Mpakati was undertaken including the role that his own father played at the Police Headquarters in Lilongwe during the evening that Dr. Attati Mpakati was eliminated.
Coordinator- Organizing Committee
Dr. Attati Mpakati Memorial Seminar (2019)
Official website: www.historyofmalawi.com
Facebook: Malawi Lost History
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LONG LIVE THE SPIRIT OF DR. ATTATI MPAKATI! LONG LIVE!