Born and bred in Kasungu, William Machisa, 38, remembers vividly what the name Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda meant in this tobacco powered district.
As son to 78-year-old Manuel Machisaâ€” former head teacher at Chilanga Full Primary Schoolâ€”ignites in him fond memories of Malawiâ€™s first head of State.
It is at Chilanga where Kamuzu, so Machisa was told, did part of his primary school. It is at Chilanga CCAP, so it is recorded, where Kamuzu was baptised by Scottish missionaries.
In fact, it is in the church building where Kamuzu sat for his Grade A studies and where he was baptised.
This building still stands. But give it up to the next rains; this-must-be-historical-monument will be history. And that will be erasing HKB (as he was fondly called) from Chilanga.
Standing some five kilometres south of Kasungu boma, Chilanga, the headquarters of Senior Chief Kaomba, is among the many forgotten historical monuments in the country.
â€œIt pains me a lot. That building should not be allowed to collapse, it will be sad,â€ said Kaomba on Wednesday.
The building, constructed in 1902 by Scottish missionaries as both a prayer house and classroom, has stood the test of time.
When the Scots left, Nkhoma CCAP Synod inherited the building and was well looked after until Kamuzu died in 1997.
â€œI recall this used to be a grass-thatched prayer house but in 1973, we changed to iron sheets which angered Kamuzu because he wanted it to look ancient. It will be bad to let it collapse,â€ said Machisa, the former Chilanga head teacher.
In 1973, Kamuzuâ€™s classmates were able to identify the mud mound he sat on during his Grade A studies. Those who renovated the building then changed the mound to a cement hillock to ensure it lasts.
â€œIn those days, we were not allowed to sit on this chair,â€ remembers Machisa, the son.
â€œThroughout history, both Nkhoma Synod and government made sure that the building and the whole of Chilanga Primary School are well looked after. I canâ€™t imagine it is collapsing,â€ said Damaliyeli Sitolo, a former Nkhoma Synod education manager who lived at Chilanga from 1971 to 1973.
But the care is no more. The building has cracked on all sides; iron sheets were blown off by a storm in the last rainy season, no door posts and not even a single window pane remains.
Filth and eyesore
The historical monument is simply an eyesore.
â€œWe feel very sad as a school but we canâ€™t do anything,â€ said Felix Reed, deputy head teacher at Chilanga Primary School.
Reverend Alemekezeke Phiri of Chilanga CCAP said the church has since repossessed the building and that they will reinforce its walls.
â€œBut after that, we will not allow pupils to use it as a classroom anymore. We want it to be a monument where people can come to learn something about Kamuzu,â€ he said.
But his secretary general at Nkhoma Synod, Reverend Davidson Chifungo, is not aware of the present state of the building.
â€œWe have done our part to keep it up to now. Maybe government should now ensure that this is preserved as a national monument,â€ he said.
He seemed to echo Kaomba who blames the bad state of the Kamuzu classroom on government, particularly the Department of Antiquities.
But while the blame game continues, one just has to visit Chilanga and enter the formerly well looked after monument.
When I visited the building on Wednesday, two things were clear. Either, this building has been turned into a toilet or has been left for an animal house.
The interiors stink, evidently because children use its dark corners to relieve themselves as human excreta could be spotted.
Students from nearby Chilanga Secondary School have turned its walls into some kind of an art gallery, not in praise of Kamuzu, but their own tributes.
â€œRemember Sanje Kackling Chaliwa,â€ one student wrote on the southern wing.
â€œThoko Machale Ghettoâ€¦..Morgan Hall from K City,â€ echoes graffiti on the western walls.
Government has heard of these bad stories and the eyesore the historical monument has turned into, at least in the words of Tourism Minister Daniel Liwimbi.
â€œIâ€™ve already planned to visit Chilanga and Nguluyanawambe. We need to appraise and assess the situation,â€ he said on Tuesday.
Nguluyanawambe is Kamuzuâ€™s personal house on Kasungu Mountain.
â€œWe know there are a lot of artifacts there, and it will be important to preserve these and open up to the public for tourism,â€ he said.
Kamuzuâ€™s family has plans for Nguluyanawambe but nothing yet on the cards for Chilanga, according to Eunice Msaliwa, Kamuzu family spokesperson.
â€œAbout Chilanga, I will have to consult, but Nguluyanawambe we still want it to be a museum. We have already done the library, but we donâ€™t want to open it to the public as yet because there is still a lot to be done,â€ she said.
While government and the CCAP Church plan big for the Chilanga monument, the only prayer is that those efforts should come no later than October this year.
â€œMost likely this building will not survive another storm,â€ fears Reed, the deputy head teacher.
And that will erase Kamuzu from Chilanga.