Three sons of former veteran politician Willie Chokani, all in their 50s, yesterday gave teary eulogies as their father was laid to rest within their family compound at Chokani Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Machinjiri in Chirimba, Blantyre.
First to speak was Dr. Khami Chokani, the firstborn son, who had to be consoled as he fought tears to give his eulogy.
Khami, who said his father’s work ethic made him what he is today, said despite the family living in exile during the one-party State as Chokani Senior was among founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s ‘rebels’, their father always reminded them that they come from “the Warm Heart of Africa”.
Chokani’s second-born, Professor Ndaona Chokani, based in Switzerland, said he left Malawi in 1964 when he was two years old, but with the love his father had for Malawi, he knew a lot about the country before even visiting it that when he visited his motherland, he was just confirming what his father had already told him.
He said if there is one thing among the numerous things that his father taught him that he will always thank him for is to love education and always reach for greater heights.
Ndaona said he remembers very well about a time when he was given a certain award in his field and they had to do his biography, Chokani called him and said what he liked most about the biography was that Ndaona had been recognised as someone born in Malawi.
President Peter Mutharika was among the mourners at the funeral of Chokani whom every speaker described as the true son of the country who fought relentlessly for what he believed was right.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation George Chaponda, speaking on behalf of the President, said Chokani was a humble and dedicated leader and as a gallant freedom fighter, the military honour given to him on his departure is befitting.
Said Chaponda: “As a diplomat, Chokani ensured that Malawi was known as the Warm Heart of Africa. Chokani was a patriot and a selfless leader who always put Malawi first. He was indeed a true son of this great country.”
Speaking for himself, Chaponda said the late Chokani was passionate to assist people to pursue higher education as he facilitated for him (Chaponda) to get a scholarship to study at New Delhi University in India.
In his eulogy, CCAP Blantyre Synod general secretary the Reverend Alex Maulana said Chokani was not an ordinary person. He said Chokani was a person who was very dedicated to the work of Christ, no matter where he was.
Others who spoke at the ceremony included Dr Charles Kahumbe representing the Kahumbe family where Chokani married his wife Grace in 1960; T/A Machinjiri; and Kanjedza Kamwendo, representing the Chokani family.
Notable figures present at the burial ceremony included former president Bakili Muluzi, Inspector General (IG) of Police Lexten Kachama, Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) George Mkondiwa and Deputy Army Commander Griffin Supuni Phiri.
Chokani’s friends were represented by Augustine Mnthambala, Thengo Maloya, Rose Chibambo (the first woman in Kamuzu’s Cabinet), a Mrs Chaponda and Mr and Mrs Mphepo.
The late Chokani, who died on May 5 at Mwaiwathu Private Hospital in Blantyre, was a teacher, politician and diplomat. He spent some time in prison and was exiled for almost 30 years during the one-party State which ended with the 1993 national referendum that ushered in plural politics.
He was one of the first ministers in Kamuzu Banda’s government and was a member of Parliament for the entire Chiradzulu between 1961 and 1964.