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Kamuzu Banda

Prime Minister of Malawi

Died when: 54 years 119 days
Star Sign: Leo

 

Kamuzu Banda Hastings Kamuzu Banda (15 February 1898 – 25 November 1997) was the Prime Minister and later President of Malawi from 1964–1994 (for the first year of his rule as it achieved independence in 1964, Malawi was the British protectorate of Nyasaland). In 1966, the country became a republic and he became president. His rule has been characterized as a "highly repressive autocracy." After receiving much of his education in ethnography, linguistics, history, and medicine overseas, Banda returned to Nyasaland to speak against colonialism and advocate independence from the United Kingdom. He was formally appointed Prime Minister of Nyasaland, and led the country to independence in 1964. Two years later, he proclaimed Malawi a republic with himself as president. He consolidated power and later declared Malawi a one-party state under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). In 1970, the MCP made him the party's President for Life. In 1971, he became President for Life of Malawi itself. A renowned anti-communist leader in Africa, he received support from the Western Bloc during the Cold War. He generally supported women's rights, improved the country's infrastructure and maintained a good educational system relative to other African countries. On the debit side, he presided over one of the most repressive regimes in Africa, an era that saw political opponents regularly tortured and murdered. Human rights groups estimate that at least 6,000 people were killed, tortured and jailed without trial. As many as 18,000 people were killed during his rule according to one estimate. He received criticism for maintaining full diplomatic relations with the apartheid government in South Africa. By 1993, amid increasing domestic and international pressure, he agreed to hold a referendum which ended the one-party system. Soon afterwards, a special assembly ended his life-term presidency and stripped him of most of his powers. Banda ran for president in the democratic elections that followed and he was defeated. He died in South Africa on 25 November 1997.
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