* President Chakwera joins the 40th Anniversary celebration in recognition of late Kamuzu’s legacy more lasting than bronze
* Kamuzu Academy has produced human resource that is crucial to the development of the country
By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi’s only grammar school, the Kamuzu Academy celebrates its 40th Anniversary today, November 21 — the day Founder and former President of the Republic of Malawi, late Ngwazi Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda opened its doors in 1981.
Founder’s Day is annually celebrated in keeping with the tradition that was inculcated by the Founder himself when he periodically would attend the celebrations that started with Kamuzu attending prayers in the Academy Chapel together with the students and members of staff.
Kamuzu would read a passage from the Holy Bible before the Academy’s Chaplain would deliver a sermon. Later the Ngwazi would attend celebration activities performed by the students, that included traditional dances and poetry recitals in Ancient Latin and Greek.
Over the years, State Presidents — Bingu wa Mutharika, Joyce Banda and now Lazarus Chakwera (for the second consecutive time) — have graced the Founder’s Day celebrations.
All have marveled at the legacy that late Kamuzu Banda left which over time is still being described as “a legacy more lasting than bronze” and the Academy is nicknamed as ‘The Eton of Africa’ — after the glamorous and historic Eton of the UK.
In his speech on Saturday, President Chakwera once again took cognizance that Kamuzu Academy continues to produce the cream of professionals that is contributing to the social and economic development of the country.
He took the opportunity to advise the young minds of the students to always strive for excellence and not to be a generation that refuses to take responsibility of their actions.
The President emphasized that the culture of refusing to take responsibility is a recipe for national crisis, saying the continued failure as a nation to be responsible for themselves is what has destroyed the society.
“Taking responsibility for oneself is not easy, but no nation can be built without that foundation,” he said. “As a nation, we cannot have good media if our schools do not produce journalists who regard what they write as a sacred responsibility.
“We cannot have good health care if our schools do not produce doctors who regard their patients as a sacred responsibility. We cannot have good government if our schools do not produce public servants who regard public office as a sacred responsibility.
“We cannot have good roads if our schools do not produce engineers who regard the lives of motorists as a sacred responsibility.”
He continued to encourage the young minds that if you come out of the Academy having not learnt what their responsibilities are, or having learnt to take care of those responsibilities, or having learnt to take responsibility for failing to attend to their responsibilities, then they will “come out having learnt nothing”.
Chakwera said when Malawians start to take responsibility for themselves and the country, they will help build a new Malawi that is self-reliant as envisioned in Malawi 2063.
“My prayer is that you will be the generation that learns to be responsible enough to tell the truth, responsible enough to refuse the bribe, responsible enough to admit your mistake, responsible enough to forgive a wrong.
“Responsible enough to protect what is yours from theft and protect what is not yours from abuse, responsible enough to vote, responsible enough to help a fellow Malawian succeed and celebrate them when they do,” Chakwera said.
Also present was deputy Minister of Education, Madalitso Wirima Kambauwa, who applauded management of Kamuzu Academy for sustaining the Founder’s dream — which is in line with the ministry’s vision of ensuring that every person has access to quality education.
First head boy, Harold Kachaje also thanked the Kamuzu Academy staff for keeping the Founder’s vision through their excellent management skills they invested in the institution despite resistance from some quarters who had condemned it as expensive soon after government stopped subsidizing its operations when Kamuzu retired as the State President.
“On the contrary,” Kachaje said “the school has managed to produce human resource that is crucial to the development of the country, vindicating the Founder’s vision to create ‘a legacy more lasting than bronze’.
The same goes with May 14 — Kamuzu Day — which celebrated the the late President’s official birthday but as soon as he was voted out of power in 1994, the day was scrapped off the national calendar.
But Kamuzu’s kinfolk, the Chewawaka Family continued to organise memorial services at Kamuzu’s home in Kasungu District on this day that was enjoyed as a public holiday for 30 years.
It wasn’t until President Bingu wa Mutharika reverted it when he came to power to celebrate the life and achievement of this Father and Founder of the Malawi Nation, a title he was fondly used to be described as in his 30-year rule of Malawi.
The late Bingu, in declaring the Kamuzu Day back as a public holiday, said he always held the former Head of State with the highest esteem through the various infrastructure that speak volumes of the development foundation of this country — the Capital Hill, the lakeshore road, the University of Malawi that specialised in breeding the highly educated technocrats such as lawyers, lecturers, engineers, architects, nurses, high school teachers and doctors.
But, as is the culture in Malawi, it is only when one passes on that they are respected. — When Kamuzu died on 25th of November 1997, he was glorified for the good things the nation holds dear.
The eulogies were heart rending. The newspapers went to town with impressive headlines. Special supplements were published with catchy headlines alongside the famous public portrait of his with a lion beside him.
Former South Africa President, late Nelson Mandela, described Kamuzu as a ‘liberator’, for “supporting and funding the Liberation Front in Zimbabwe” and that when Mandela was released from prison “Dr. Banda sent him a huge sum of money which he did not request for”.
Prominent lawyer, late Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa, then working as subeditor at The Daily Times before he went back to Chancellor College to study law, wrote a special poem — ‘Ode to D.O.F.; More than a legend” — in which he said in part: “Tradition says/Scorn him when alive/And praise him at the grave/But the legend has shown:/He was great and intelligent/From youth to the end”.
A speech reproduced in one of special newspaper editions was that late Kamuzu made on the eve of Independence in 1964: “We are where we are now because we believe that freedom is the birthright of Man, it belongs to him by right of his humanity, and for this we fought…Let us discipline ourselves to work hard and dedicate anew our energies in the services of this country.”
On the eve of the 1993 Referendum, Kamuzu made an historic speech in which he said: “Go about your voting procedures in an orderly and dignified manner, respecting each other as Malawians have always done. You should all remember that how you conduct yourselves during and after the referendum is most important since it will not only show our level of maturity as a nation but whether we move forward as a nation or degenerate into chaos. We should remember that the greatness of a nation derives from the worthy actions of its people.” He signed off by his usual salutation: “Bwanas and Donas, you have my best wishes”.
After all eulogies were made, the country stood still as the reverie reverberated at his final resting place at Capital Hill, which once was called Mphungu Village and where lies the Kamuzu mausoleum, complete with a statue — courtesy of late President Bingu wa Mutharika — who reignited Malawians to continue holding Kamuzu with the highest esteem he deserves by bringing back the Kamuzu Day holiday.
Kamuzu Academy, has the motto, ‘Honor Deo et Patriae’ (Latin for Honour your God and Fatherland) — that teaches patriotism and giving thanks to God for the precious gift of life.
May the Kamuzu Academy Founder ‘Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine et lux perpetua luceat eis’ — Latin for ‘rest in God’s peace’ as said by as Kamuzu Academy Trustees and the Board of Governors in the condolence message they placed in the The Daily Times of December 3, 1997.