LAST Sunday afternoon in Lilongwe

Somehow I have lost track of posting a note about Patricia’s and my adventures last Sunday afternoon (June 14) when we went to visit the Mausoleum for Banda (Malawi’s first President) and the Lilongwe Nature Sancturary.

We were able to walk to both of these places.

At the mausoleum, we learned some interesting things about Malawian history and politics:

The literal meaning of Malawi is “flames of fire”. The fire started burning with Malawi’s independence. The flag depicts dawn. Coming from the dark (under British rule) going into day. Malawi thinks of itself as “the warm heart of Africa”

The four fundamental principles upon which Malawi as a nation was built are depicted by the four pillars at the mausoleum for Kumuzu: unity, loyalty, obedience and discipline. These were the principles that Kamuzu used most to advocate most to Malawians: to be loyal to him and the government of the day. He was a strict disciplinarian.

Kamuzu was never married and had no children. He lived with a personal hostess, a personal assistant, Mama Cecilia Kadzamira. She is a medical nurse by profession and she is still alive. According to her, the picture of Kamuzu placed by the replica of his tomb at the mausoleum was taken when he was in his 20s. In the picture, he is holding a ‘fly whisk’, made of a lion’s or horse’s tale. It was his trademark and a symbol of authority. You never saw him in public without it. He had several of them. He has one in his grave and the others have been set aside for display in the museum to be built near the mausoleum as part of the parliament centre.

He was a Christian, a Presbyterian, and his favourite biblical verse (recorded on his tomb stone) is part of Psalm 23 (Lord is my Shepard). According to his hostess, he used to recite the verse every morning when he woke up. He was a doctor of medicine who studied in the U.K.

Mausoleum to Banda iii

He is embalmed to last for 100 years. Originally, the intention was that he would be on view but the family members (nephews and nieces) refused.

He was also connected with the symbol of the lion. At a meeting of the African Union in Egypt around 1970-71 they were discussing the situation of apartheid in South Africa. Most of the northern and western African states wanted the members of the AU to unite to fight the white South Africans. But of all the people at that meeting, Kamuzu stood up and said, “Oh, gentleman, I do not agree to that position. Our people down south will suffer most. Why don’t we use contact and dialogue. Then the Chairman of the meeting praised Kamuzu saying, “This gentleman has patience like that of a lion.” That’s where the title came from.

A few months before he died, he apologized to the Malawi nation. “I had my time. I ruled Malawi for 20 years and there might have been some other things that were not going fine…maybe some other atrocities. You never know some were done by my followers. But one thing for sure, I am saying sorry for everything bad that happened during my tenure of office.”

Malawi changed from a one-party state to multi-party in 1994. It came out on the national radio … at that time Malawi did not have television …even before the official election results had been announced, Kumuzu came on the radio and said, “I have seen, I think, my rival has won. So, for the winners, I want you to rejoice peacefully and, as for the losers, that’s what life is all about.”. Most Malawians were used to a single-party state and they were wondering what would happen. So, people were very happy and comforted when he went on air and said everything is okay, “This one can take over; I have lost.” So we will never forget him.

“He had his weaknesses but, nevertheless, he was Malawi’s founding father.”

These notes come from the information provided by our tour guide (and caretaker) at the mausoleum, Frederick. Here’s a photo of Frederick:

Mausoleum to Banda ii

As we walked to the nature sanctuary, we walked past the site where the new Malawian parliamentary buildings are being constructed

New Malawian Parliament Building Billboard Depiction

The Nature Sanctuary is a place where they take in injured animals or animals that for any number of reasons need to be rehabilitated and supported to re-enter life in the wild. We saw a crocodile, many different types of monkeys, a lionness (who will not be able to return to the wild due to her injuries), a hyena, a boa constrictor….and, while he was too shy to be seen by us, the lair of a leopard. The area was a pretty walk in itself.

Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary x

Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary xiv

We made it home in time — before dark! — but only to find that the water was not on. We sure could have used a good long shower after the dusty walking. But…..c’est la vie Malawian!!

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