Malawi President Joyce Banda on Tuesday joined mourners who braved a downpour to deposit at the College of Medicine mortuary in Blantyre the body of Ngoni Paramount Chief M’mbelwa IV of Mzimba.
M’mbelwa IV, 56, died at Mwaiwathu Private Hospital in Malawi’s commercial city, Blantyre, where he was treated for a diabetes attack.
In her eulogy, the President told journalists the nation has lost a great son who courageously served his country.
She said the late M’mbelwa IV served in all governments from Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s one party regime through the first post-independence multiparty government led by Bakili Muluzi, the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration and her current People’s Party regime.
Said Banda: “I am very touched with the death of the Paramount Chief M’mbelwa IV. I will miss him. The nation will miss him. He knew his role and he believed in serving the government of the day. I am discussing with my government to give him a funeral he deserves.”
The body of the late M’mbelwa IV, who has since been accorded a State funeral, was taken from College of Medicine last evening to Mtunthama State Lodge in Lilongwe where a vigil is taking place. It will lie in state this Wednesday for viewing and prayers. Scores of people, including former first lady Callista Mutharika and politicians from different parties, saw off M’mbelwa IV’s body in Blantyre.
On Thursday, there will be public viewing at Mzimba Boma before a funeral service and burial tentatively scheduled at his headquarters in Edingeni on Saturday.
Earlier, Minister of Local Government Grace Maseko said a funeral committee comprising government officials, his family and the church was working out burial arrangements to be announced in due course.
In Mzimba, the Livingstonia CCAP Synod led people of the Northern Region in mourning M’mbelwa IV. The synod’s general secretary the Reverend Levi Nyondo expressed shock and sadness at the death of the Ngoni top chief.
He said M’mbelwa IV was a member of the synod and his death has not only deprived it of an icon of traditional values, but also an important church member.
Every Child Malawi is one of the non-governmental organisations that have been deprived of the services of M’mbelwa IV.
Project coordinator for Bulala in Mzimba, Thomas Moyo, said M’mbelwa IV was one of the strongest supporters of Every Child’s project to fight early marriages.
Several people in the streets of Mzuzu were in deep sorrow, with others not believing the chief’s death.
M’mbelwa IV, one of the most prominent chiefs, has been involved in political activities, attending and, in some cases, speaking at rallies organised by ruling political parties.
First to recognise him was Muluzi and his billing went up during Mutharika’s era when he stirred controversy by conferring on Mutharika the title Ngwazi. He also revived the Ngoni cultural events such as umtheto.