Let’s celebrate our heroes

Politicising public events in the country is becoming common, with politicians scrambling for the microphone during funerals or shunning national observances. Recently, government officials shunned Kamuzu Day commemoration. Our reporter JOHN CHIRWA caught up with political and social commentator Moses Mkandawire to discuss this phenomenon.

Mkandawire: Kamuzu fought for who we are

Q

: What do you make of government officials’ decision to shun Kamuzu Memorial Service?

A

:It is unfortunate that government was not represented. This needs not to be encouraged because all of us need to attend such events regardless of our political affiliation. These are events that help our children and grandchildren to learn where we are coming from as a country, where we are today and where we will be in future.

 

Q

: It appears politics is taking away the spirit of patriotism, isn’t it?

A

: We cannot talk about patriotism if we do not understand ourselves and our history.  We are not Malawians for the sake of it. There are individuals that contributed so much to the fight for independence. They fought for who we are today and it is extremely important for us to recognise and accept what our forefathers and heroes like Kamuzu did.

 

Q

: Recently, we have seen politics taking centre-stage during national events, including the funeral of Robson Chirwa. What should be done?

A

: It is very unfortunate that this is becoming a trend in the country. When you look at the growth and development of the country, it is not only politics that plays an important role. There are several other issues that so much contribute to the making of a nation. Let us understand that Kamuzu Banda was a negotiator, a medical doctor, human rights activist and politician who used the space that God gave him. It would be extremely important to leave politics aside and look at individuals in their own right and what they have contributed to the nation. For example, we have names like Levi Ziliro Mumba, John Chilembwe, McDonald Lawrence, Chakufwa Chihana and others in sports discipline and music. Each one of them played a critical role in developing the country

and it is important to respect these sons and daughters of the country because they contributed to the building of our nation.

 

Q

: We celebrated Kamuzu Day under the theme Unity and Reconciliation. How is that theme important?

A

: Unity and reconciliation are important because there were certain things under the reign of Kamuzu that were right and other actions under his regime that did not go down well with people. The latter had to do with human rights abuses and violations, including arbitrary arrests, detentions without trial. Some individuals fled this country because of his draconian style of leadership while others were using the name of Kamuzu to perpetuate violence. Some people got injured due to such experiences. So, the theme recognises the positive side as well as taking into consideration the weaknesses of his leadership for unity and togetherness in the development of this country. It is not the diversity in politics that will contribute to the growth and development of this country, but the diversity of all of us as human beings in whatsoever field that we are.

 

Q

: The event has taken place in Mzuzu for the first time. How important is that in promoting unity?

A

: It is extremely important because Kamuzu was not just a son of Kasungu, but the father of the nation. He led the struggle across the regions. But the most important thing for the North is that the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia largely contributed to his education by offering scholarships for him to study in the country and abroad in the UK where he went to do his medical studies. Then, he was a church elder under the Church of Scotland and also under the synod. Due to this connection, it is important for the people in the Northern Region to host the event for the first time after so many years. For us, we say it’s good that it has happened and it is also important that we be considered as part and parcel of the Kamuzu struggle.

 

Q

: How best should we commemorate Kamuzu Day?

A

: Let us not look at this as a Malawi Congress Party [MCP] activity or the Chendawaka family event. Let this be a national event that is guided by government and all of us should follow what government would do. That should be done not only in remembrance of Kamuzu, but several other heroes of the country. We should have a special day where we can recognise these people. We can strengthen either the Independence Day or the Martyrs Day to remember these heroes. We can also have a special law recognise our sons and daughters that fought so hard for this country in whatsoever field. At the same time, we should have a national policy that should be able to guide these processes.

Share This Post