When an event has taken place and those who know it best say nothing about it, they give chance to the less well-informed to fabricate lies about it. This is the case about how colonialism and baaskap, white domination, were dislodged in countries more or less South of the Zambezi.
I have more than once heard somebody saying Malawi did not assist African independence fight after she herself attained independence. In particular that she had done nothing to assist Zimbabweans and South Africans because she chose to collaborate with minority regimes instead of frontline states.
Let us give due credit to other countries and then to Malawi and Malawians.
In his autobiography titled Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah said that Ghanaâ€™s independence was going to be meaningless unless it was linked with the liberation of those countries which were still under foreign rule.
Nkrumah was not given much change to lead his country in the pa-African movement. In 1966 there was a coup in Ghana and bout six years later Nkrumah died in exile to the shock of his admirers who were all over Africa.
In West Africa France and Britain handed independence to Africans on silver platters. The bastions of reactions were in southern Africa. The Portuguese told the world that Mozambique and Angola were not colonies but overseas provinces of Portugal, since Metropolitan Portugal was independent so were its provinces. White rulers of Southern Rhodesia, South Africa and South West Africa (refused) to concede power to African majorities.
It was Tanzania under the able leadership of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere that first shouldered the burden of hosting liberation movements of these countries. When Zambia, Mozambique and Angola gained independence six countries formed a working committee known as frontline states. They were later joined by Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. Malawi was not a member. Some Africans abused Malawi and its President for this lacuna.
President Kamuzu Banda did nothing sinister or un brother like. At the first organisation of African Unity (OAU) conference that was held in Cairo in 1964 Dr Banda told the gathering that due to the geographical handicap of his landlocked country he would by necessity maintain relationships with rulers of Mozambique so that Malawi could export and import its merchandise through Mozambique ports.
Colonial history had condemned Malawi to an economic dependency on the white ruled territories. Thousands of Malawians were working southern Rhodesia and South Africa. To delink Malawi from these countries would like cutting ones throat. â€œI am anxious as the rest of us to assist our brothers and sisters, but to help a friend you do not have to cut your throat,â€ said Dr Banda. â€œI hate hypocrisy.â€
Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda Life President of Malawi maintained cordial relationships with the Portuguese, the whites of Southern Rhodesia and South Africa notÂ because he had special affection for themÂ , or was he indifferent to the sufferings of his fellow Africans but because he wanted to shield his own Malawians from undue economic suffering.
Did President Banda completely turn his back against nationalist movements of southern Africa? We will turn to this question later. Let us begin with what individual Malawians did to advance the welfare and freedom of the countries where they went to work.
Nyasas, thanks to Scottish missionaries, obtained sound primary education much earlier than Africans of southern Rhodesia and northern Rhodesia since Nyasaland was economically more backward than the Rhodesias educated Nyasas went there to work as clerks, teachers and artisans. In the course of time, they also provided leadership in social welfare and political matters. -To be continued…