For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.—Galatians 3:26
The other day during a prayer session, our Pastor ZK reminded us that we are children of God and, therefore, should act as such. We should not beg, but state our desires, causing them into being. I looked back and rounded up some of the great desires that have come “into being”.
I humbly note that I am a child of God and connected in one way or another with all the Malawi leaders, and a few of the international ones, spiced with a few stars.
This is not a journey through boast path, but rather a humble recall, perhaps the beginnings of an autobiography, an appreciation of people I have interacted with during my life here on planet earth. Having been born in a political family, I am grateful that in regard to all six Malawi presidents, I have had the privilege of either meeting, engaging with all of them. I have interacted with six international leaders and 11 icons, one of whom I hosted at my house.
The first time I met prime minister Kamuzu Banda, he diagnosed my swelling joints as rheumatic fever. He told my parents to take me to a Malawian doctor based in London (Dr. George Bhima). Kamuzu later became president of Malawi. Lastly, I was the last journalist to visit him at Blantyre Adventist Hospital before he was flown to South Africa where he later died.
In my first year at Chancellor College, for some reason in my history class, I always had as my desk neighbours the ivory bangle guy and the praise God guy. Later, bangle guy’s daughter got married to my son, and the praise God guy is President of the Third Republic of Malawi. And I have known his Vice-President since he was in secondary school and later an executive at Airtel Malawi.
Going back to 1994, I achieved another first when, through the then United Democratic Front secretary general Harry Thomson, I and BBC’s Veronique Edwards were able to interview the president-elect of democratic Malawi, Bakili Muluzi.
Fast forward to 10 years later, on July 10 2010, President Bingu wa Mutharika and First Lady Madame Callista Mutharika hosted my parents and 200 guests. Later, during a press luncheon at Kamuzu Palace, he told journalists that I was his daughter.
The next Malawi leader, the country’s first female president Joyce Banda, is my sister. Her late sister Festa was married to my cousin Harry. Before becoming president, Banda and I worked on women in development and gender equality; after becoming president the work continued with the former president working with traditional leaders to end maternal deaths in Malawi.
The first time I met former president Peter Mutharika, he was in the Constitutional Conference in 1995. He confided in me that he was an intern when my dad was Ambassador at the Malawi Mission in New York. Many years later, I was positioned to stand next to him after his meeting with the Malawi Diaspora in New York. In speaking with me after the photo-op, Mutharika told me: “I like what you write, you write very well, although I don’t always agree with your views.”
On the international scene, I have met Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Emperor Haile Selassie, former presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton of the United States of America; Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe; San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, and Michelle Bachelet of Chile, who was also the first United Nations (UN) Women executive director.
In January 2012, Bachelet told me that UN Women would have an office in Malawi. Sadly by June, as UN Women streamlined its global footprint, Malawi fell off the list. As the Malawi delegate on the executive board meeting, I negotiated with the agency to reconsider having an office to help Joyce Banda’s government. The board agreed and now Malawi has a UN Women office.
Other VIPs I have met in my global tours are former UN Secretary General the late Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, football legend Sydney Rice, basketball legend Shaquile O’Neal, musicians Ziggie Marley, Bono, Steve Kekana, Ron Kenoly, M’bilia Bel, Yvonne Chaka Chaka (who I entertained at my house) and actor Robert De Niro.
I feel truly blessed as a global peacemaker, a child of God.