President Lazarus Chakwera and other political leaders join Malawians today in celebrating Christmas Day with a call for peace and strict adherence to coronavirus precautionary measures.
December 25 is observed as Christmas Day worldwide when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, their Lord and Saviour. Traditionally, the spirit of Christmas has been characterised by love, sharing of gifts and preaching peace.
In a written response yesterday, Chakwera, speaking through his press secretary Brian Banda, said he will spend his time today at Chikoko Bay State Lodge on the shores of Lake Malawi in Monkey Bay, Mangochi District.
Said Banda: “The President and the First Lady [Monica] will also use their holiday to cheer different groups of people. He wishes all Malawians a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
“Further, he [Chakwera] would like all of us to remember to wash hands, wear a mask and observe all Covid-19 preventive measures during this festive season as there is a new surge of the pandemic.”
In a separate interview, Office of the Vice- President press aide Pilirani Phiri said Vice- President Saulos Chilima will spend his Christmas Day with family and friends.
He said: “Together with his family, the Vice- President will also do a few charity activities reaching out to the needy during the holidays. He wishes all Malawians a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year 2021.”
On his part, Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa urged all Malawians to use the day to share with the less privileged, saying that is what the spirit of Christmas is all about.
“To those who are able, let us share the little we have with others who are underprivileged. Christmas is about giving as God loved the world that He gave His only Son,” he said.
Nankhumwa, who is Mulanje Central legislator and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president (South), said he will spend his time attending prayers in Lilongwe.
In a telephone interview, former president Joyce Banda said Christmas Day presents an opportunity for Malawians to reflect on an eventful year and look forward with hope.
She said: “This is a unique year as Malawi has gone through a lot. Talk about the presidential election court case and the Covid-19 pandemic. So, as we are settling down, it is time to sit with families, exchange gifts and show love to one another.
“For those who can manage, they should give to the underprivileged and even visit hospitals to cheer up the sick.”
The former president said she will spend the day with her children and grandchildren as she cannot take them out due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking through his personal secretary Linda Salanjira, immediate past president Peter Mutharika, who is also DPP president, said Malawians should use Christmas Day to show love to one another.
She quoted Mutharika as having said: “I will be spending Christmas with the family and my message to all Malawians is to love one another and pray for our country.”
On his part, former president Bakili Muluzi said people who are privileged should share with the needy.
He said: “Both as a nation and at an individual level, it is also that time we must reflect on achievements made in this year or failures; and of course plan again how best we can work on our failures in the year 2021.
“It doesn’t mean you really have to have something to reach out to the needy, even remembering those that are admitted in hospitals, those in prison and the many children we have in orphanages, it is a sign of benevolence that will give the needy hope and feel loved.”
The former president cautioned Malawians to celebrate responsibly to avoid carnages on the roads and defying Covid-19 precautionary measures.
Muluzi, a Moslem, said he will yet again spend the festive season at his home village, Kapoloma in Machinga to celebrate with people.
He extended best wishes to all Malawians as they celebrate the birth of Jesus today and also as they enter the New Year.
“I wish all Malawians a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Both as a nation and at an individual level, it is also that time we must reflect on achievements made in this year or failures; and of course plan again how best we can work on our failures in the year 2021,” Muluzi said.
Days counting down to Christmas Day saw a flurry of activity as people stocked up supplies for the festive season. The Christmas fever heightened on Christmas Eve when shops and markets were filled with shopperse and roads congested with slow moving traffic.