I have to say that todayâ€™s topic is personal, but it has national significance. After all, it involves the State President, Joyce Banda, who last weekend kindly went to Kakoma Primary School (Ngerenge) in Karonga where one of Malawiâ€™s illustrious sons, Dunduzu Kaluli Chisiza, was buried. Banda paid her respects there by laying a wreath.
That place is also where Ephraim â€˜Chapireâ€™ Chisiza (whom I was named after), Robert Chandiwira Chisiza (one of my brothers was named after him) and other fallen Chisizas, are buried. It is a very sacred place for direct Chisiza descendants, including yours truly.
Bandaâ€™s visit was a good gesture and the Chisiza family, including Yatutaâ€™s sonsâ€”Vyande and Kwachaâ€”as well as Dunduzuâ€™s grandchildren, greatly appreciate it.
But some developments at that event and the misinformation that followed in some sections of the media have compelled me to talk about the issue that exposes my heritage, something few people know because I never deemed it necessary or anybodyâ€™s business, until now.
Before I get into details of what I want to say, I need to state why I will speak on this matter with such authorityâ€”establishing my credentials, so to speak.
My paternal grandfather, Wedson Kasambo Munthali (May his soul rest in peace), married my grandmother, Elvin Nyapachuma Chisiza (May her soul rest in peace), the daughter of Chanyala Kaluli Chisiza and Khumbata (nee Harawa/Chibilibili).
Elvin (my elder sister is named after her) was also the elder sister to Dunduzu and Yatuta Kaluli Chisiza, the two political brothers and their surviving younger brother, Khalangilo Chisiza.
I was surprised that in one of the popular online publications, Yatuta is referred to as the uncle to Dunduzu! He was the elder brother to Dunduzu, not uncle!
In the same online outlet, Khalangilo Chisiza is referred to as Dunduzuâ€™s nephew! Khalangilo, who lives at the Chisiza family compound at Lwezga in Karonga, is the brother of Dunduzu and Yatuta! They share the same father (Chanyala Kaluli Chisiza), but had different mothers.
The other misrepresentation is that the mausoleum in Karonga is that of Dunduzu and Yatuta Chisiza! It is in fact only of Dunduzu, at least to the best of my knowledge.
People may also wish to know that Yatutaâ€™s body was never recovered and the family has made various representations to the Government of Malawi to help in locating and identifying Yatutaâ€™s remains, but with little progress. This is important to the Chisiza family because Yatuta deserves a decent burial.
Then there is the issue of Yatuta having been former president Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Bandaâ€™s bodyguard at one point.
Nothing could be further from the truth, but I guess the confusion is coming from the fact that during the riots of 1959 or thereabouts, which led to the declaration of a state of emergency, Yatuta and Dunduzu shielded and protected Banda.
During that same riot, Yatuta deflected an object which was meant for Banda. As a result, Yatuta was injured on his forehead.
Yatutaâ€™s previous training as an inspector of police afforded him the ability and knowledge to perform the protection detail when called upon by the revolution. But he was never Bandaâ€™s bodyguard!
Some media outlets also claimed that prominent lawyer Bazuka Mhango spoke on behalf of the Chisiza family during the presidential visit last weekend. As far as I know, Khalangilo was the designated family spokesperson.
The family had very good reasons for not wanting Bazuka to speak as a representative of the familyâ€”it was nothing personal, but tradition because the fact is that in Ngonde and Tumbuka culture, Bazuka cannot represent the Chisiza family unless, of course, in cases where all the key Chisizas have died, which is not the case.
To help you understand, Bazukaâ€™s paternal grandfatherâ€™s aunt (Nyauhango/Nyakalwefu) was the mother of Chanyala Kaluli Chisiza (the father of Dunduzu and Yatuta). It was only natural that Khalangilo be the rightful family representative.
I have nothing against Bazuka. He has been supportive to the Chisiza family and will continue to get the respect of the Chisiza family not just as one of their own, but as a steady source of invariable wisdom whenever the family needs it. But that cannot override the dictates of tradition.
I also wish that the government had given the family adequate time. It would surely have been nice to hear, for example, Yatutaâ€™s own sonsâ€”Vyande and Kwachaâ€”or Dunduzuâ€™s grandchildren, speaking at the event had they been informed in good time. It was a missed opportunity.
I must apologise for using this column, which is supposed to discuss purely public policy issues, particularly the national economy, to talk about family.
But the Chisizasâ€”just as the Sangalas, the Gadamas, the Chiwangas, the Chibambos and the Chipemberes, to mention just a fewâ€”are not just families. They are part of the countryâ€™s political history that must be preserved for posterity. At least, that is my excuse.