Kamuzu the pace setter

By Stevie Kauka

A pacesetter according to dictionary dot.com is a person, group or organization that is the most progressive or successful and serves as a model to be initiated a person or organization that is first to do something so as to set an example.

Kamuzu was the first President of the Republic of Malawi.

Let me from the outset state that I will not labor you to tell you who Kamuzu was, for a lot of literature has been written about him suffice to say he ruled Malawi from 1964 to 1993/94.

Dr.Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who led Malawi to independence in 1964 and was in power for 30 years, died in 1997 at Garden City Clinic in South Africa.

Kamuzu Banda

This article would like to recognize Kamuzu as a pacesetter a man of standards.

Despite Britain’s aid of about $25 million, independence revealed a Malawi economy so stagnant that it yielded an individual annual income of only $17.50 for a large segment of the black population.

The few available manufacturing jobs were hotly contested, and there was little domestic mining activity outside of lime quarrying for cement.

Malawi then Nyasaland was under British protectorate under the federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (There was south and North Rhodesia) It was Kamuzu Band who set the pace by weaning itself from the federation, by becoming the first country from the three to gain independence.The two gained it later.
As a pacesetter Banda constructed foundations to shore up the teetering economy, establishing parastatal organizations, or state-run corporations.

The Malawi Development Corporation, formed in 1964, that promoted manufacturing operations and kept a close watch on all foreign companies by means of obligatory government partnerships.

ADMARC, founded in April 1971, is an agricultural cooperative with a national monopoly on fertilizer and seeds. Partly as a price-setter, the organization also handles export crops of tobacco, groundnuts, cotton, and maize; by the early 1980s it had burgeoned enough to boast shares in such profit-spinners as the Bata Shoe Company, Lever Brothers, and the Portland Cement Company.

A third important organization, regarded as a quasi- parastatal, was President Banda’s own Press Holding.

Initially set up in 1969 to print the party newspaper and finance the MCP, Press Holding also financed his tobacco-farming estates.

Profits from Press Holding and ADMARC were often mingled to finance the president’s petty schemes. One big beneficiary is the elite Kamuzu Academy, founded in 1981 which was established to provide a liberal arts education for the country’s top students. 

The academy was was nicknamed the Eaton of Africa.During the commemoration on Kamuzu day at the CCAP Church in Kasungu on May 14 2019 Malawi Congress Party president, Lazarus Chakwera, said “people must appreciate that Kamuzu was beyond the party, but a national hero who had vision for this country.

Some of the things, that he stood for and set pace, is that  we had the best civil service in this country and perhaps in Africa. Everybody wanted to work in the civil service. 

The other area was the education system, agricultural system that was fully functioning and serving Malawians and everybody and prospering but services have deteriorated “ he said.
As a pacesetter in the field of education Kamuzu was a highly educated man who instilled in his people a sense of aiming high. In this regard he established the university of Malawi.In order to avoid brain drain in the medical field he established the Malawi College of Medicine.

In the area of visible Leadership, Kamuzu also set a pace in the agriculture field as he established his own farms, Press farming and Agriculture were also established where he encouraged his people to go and learn modern agriculture methods and to this end he established the Natural Resources College and Bunda College of Agriculture in the hope of steering the economy through Agriculture.

To ensure that the masses were abreast with this philosophy of hard working spirit for self-reliance.

Kamuzu also set the standards in terms of youth development when he established the Malawi Young Pioneer. The aim was to provide the youth with skills so that they could be self-reliant and be disciplined and responsible youth. MYP (Malawi Young Pioneers) Training bases were established and spread across the country where the youth would be trained in various aspects of body, mind and soul, humanity with emphasis on hard work and commitment in all undertakings.

Hard work in simple terms is giving one’s all [Time, commitment, will, energy, in order to achieve a desired goal or objective] by using zeal and intelligence.
“I want my people to work hard in the fields “Kamuzu would always say at every opportunity. Dr.  Hastings Kamuzu Banda had several philosophies, however as we commemorate this day on 14 May popularly known as Kamuzu day it is high time we reflect on standards set by Kamuzu.

When Dr.Hastings Kamuzu Banda landed at Chileka airport way back in 1958, he openly and publicly declared that he had come to Malawi then Nyasaland to do several things among them.
1. Break the stupid federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and give his people freedom
2. Make sure his people had three essential things {food, shelter and clothing}.

He continued to say he wanted people to have bumper yields, houses that do not leak when it is raining and decent clothing not nyanda.
In order to achieve this he laid down a framework in form of a foundation for people to help him achieve the number two agenda.

The foundations were dubbed as four corner stones. Loyalty ‘Discipline, Unity and Obedience
He believed that if the masses followed the four corner stones they would achieve greatness.

Malawi was a one-party state with Malawi congress party as the only party. Whether there was separation of powers between Government and the party is a subject for another day.

He further instilled a culture of hard work in the Civil service for excellent service delivery and those who were hard workers were rewarded and motivated. He did not tolerate laziness and complacency.

It was no wonder that the philosophy later turned into quantifiable aspect when Malawi at that time through the process of hard work and commitment was dubbed /rated a star performer by the World Bank and was a model country to be followed and emulated.

Public sector reforms have been on going with an aim of ‘making huge efforts to improve the performance of the public sector through various reform initiatives. Anchored by the new public management (NPM) paradigm and demands for good governance, the reform initiatives have sought to reduce the core functions of the state, foster fiscal stability, emphasize managerial efficiency within the public sector, redefine relations between public and private sectors, promote economic development”.

There has been population growth in Malawi. In 1978 there were 7.2 million people while 2018 there were 19.16 million people and it is projected that by 2050 there shall be 45 million people scrambling for the same piece of land and natural resources that were being used by 3.963 people in the year 1964. 

It is pleasing to note the Kamuzu made all efforts to control over population through several health initiatives at that time.

In infrastructure he was a pace setter by building the Lilongwe Capitol Hill where government sits probably the best government seat in Africa at that time.

He set the pace in unifying the nation by reminding Malawians that they were all Malawians and not Lhomwe, Tumbuka, Yao , Chewa etc.

In conclusion it is undoubtedly impossible for a country to progress without hard work, self-sacrifice and commitment hence all Governments emphasis on the same and we cannot deny the fact that Kamuzu set the pace and the predecessors are striving to beat the standards so set by the pace setter Kamuzu.
As a pace setter the virtues of hard work and commitment that culminates into values and beliefs as a nation would instill a culture that would see a nation prospering together with its people regardless their color, creed.

In the final analysis the citizenry benefits from their sweat.Even Kamuzu for himself to reach the level he was (a man of high standards) had to endure a lot, sacrificed a lot, did a lot of hard work in Malawi, South Africa, America and the UK in his quest for a better life.
May his soul rest in peace as we remember his day on 14 May.

*Stevie M Kauka is  a fellow of the IPMM who likes to write  on several issues in his own capacity*