It’s done and dusted. Former exile Archbald Kapote Mwakasungula will launch Malawi’s Lost Years in Lilongwe on February 6.
The political scientist and ex-ambassador, who was secretary general of Atati Mpakati’s League of Socialist Malawi (Lesoma) during his exile in Tanzania, made the announcement last week.
This is the book he co-authored with Canadian teacher Douglas Miller following protracted research, including interviews with “49 forsaken heroes” who speak of their dreams in the struggle for self-rule as well as untold frustrations and sufferings at the hands of founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda.
“It’s official. The unveiling of the book is slated for first Saturday of February and the venue is Sunbird Capital,” said Mwakasungula.
The veteran politician is one of the brains behind Karonga Museum where conversations with 20 of the interviewees are immortalised as living legends.
He revealed that the book event in the capital city will be graced by some of the “forsaken heroes” themselves and prominent politicians.
However, he was quick to point out that Malawians could be in for incisive and juicy snippets of the expulsions, beatings, killings, detentions and disappearances associated with Kamuzu’s dictatorship.
“Some of the forsaken heroes will give a juicy account of the atrocities if the people demand to hear it from the horse’s mouth. However, it is sad that two of the juiciest speakers are no more,” Mwakasungula said.
One of the fallen fighters Machipisa Munthali, who died in December 2014 over two decades after he spent 27 years in detention for allegedly leading a guerilla uprising which was foiled at Nyungwe in Karonga in 1967.
The other is the first Cabinet member Rose Chibambo, who was buried with full military honours last week in recognition of her gallant struggle for women to take part in the fight for independence. She was also among three ministers who stepped down after they revolted against Kamuzu in what has gone into history as the Cabinet Crisis.
Interestingly, the Malawi’s Lost Years co-author hinted the book launch will offer a rare encounter with Chitipa-based unsung hero Carson Kayuni, whom he credited with spearheading a September 1967 invasion in which one of the revolting ministers, Yatuta Chisiza, was killed.
Speaking of the incursion from Mozambique, pint-sized Kayuni said: “I wasn’t the mastermind, but one of the trusted few who went ahead of Chisiza to plot the war path. We opted for the South because the northern route was suicidal, with heavy security presence baying for Kamuzu’s enemy number one—Kanyama Chiume.”
The book, which warns against re-constructions of the dictator as a messiah without blemish, has been published by Montfort Media in Balaka.