Effectively, he put into motion, with others, a movement that saw the feared MCP regime crumble; hence entered into the annals of history as one of the founding fathers of MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s multipartyism.
But today, almost 20 years later, ChihanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tiny grave in the city of Mzuzu is a desolate, abandoned site despite earlier DPP government promises to erect a mausoleum befitting the fallen trade union and human rights activist.
A faded Chihana portrait hangs on the grave under a falling roof, marked with untrimmed flowers, overgrown grass, and heavy dust settling on the unguarded grave, conjuring an eerie image, especially at night.
The grave stands in mockery of the state-of-the-art national mausoleum befitting a former Second Vice-President as promised by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) almost three years ago.
When The Nation sought an update on the promised structure, MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Deputy Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development the Reverend Christopher Ngwira on Thursday refused to comment, saying presidential spokesperson Hetherwick Ntaba was better placed to speak on the matter.
Ntaba, however, tossed the issue to Deputy Minister in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Nicholas Dausi, who said he is not a government spokesperson and pushed the matter to Minister of Information and Civic Education Patricia Kaliati.
Kaliati said she did not have information on the project and asked for 30 minutes to consult OPC.
After 48 minutes, she asked for more time, saying she was looking for documents on the mausoleum.
Visits by The Nation to the site both during the day and night found the grave unguarded and without electricityÃ¢â‚¬â€contrary to what was initially the case.
Kaliati blamed Mzuzu City Council officials for the neglect.
“We will employ a guard and ensure that there is electricity. I want to appeal to authorities to be reporting when things are not okay at the tomb,” said Kaliati.
But Mzuzu City Council chief executive officer Richard Hara said the council has no authority over “a national heroÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s site”.
Alliance for Democracy (Aford) national chairperson Enock Chihana, who is also the late ChakufwaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s son, said the family is tired of governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s empty promises. He said the family can build the mausoleum if government admits failure.
“It is affecting the family a lot. We cannot continue looking at the ugly site. We feel we have abandoned our fatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s resting place,” said the young Chihana, who confirmed government at one time showed the family the mausoleumÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s design.
The late Chihana, is also among 37 individuals and organisations from 24 countries that were awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award since 1984. He got his award in 1992.