The country’s founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda was largely a private person. However, this did not stop people from speculating about his life and inspired one Shadreck Chikoti to write a fictitious book about Kamuzu’s children.
Lilongwe-based Dzuwa Arts Theatre Group has since adapted the book into a stage play.
To be staged at Kamuzu Institute for Sports in Lilongwe on December 28, the play, Mwana Wa Kamuzu, is all fictitious.
The historical novel is a cocktail of facts and fiction all related to Kamuzu. It includes tales about him not having children, which still stand today, according to Chikoti.
He said: “I grew up during the Kamuzu era and there were so many rumours about him. One of the rumours, which remains until this day, is that Kamuzu had no children and that it was a secret.
“This is a novel based on that rumour and idea. I wrote this book way before the late Jumani Kamuzu surfaced.”
Chikoti said his book is purely based on his imagination.
“In a way, it is celebrating Kamuzu Banda but it is also feeding on his mystery like how much we know him and yet, we don’t know him,” said the writer in an interview.
But the book has some facts about Kamuzu’s life.
“There are some facts in the novel. For example, there is a story of Kamuzu being arrested and getting to Gweru [in Zimbabwe], there is a story of his life in the UK and the rumours of him dating a white lady,” said Chikoti.
The play chronicles the story of one James Mchizanjala—a prominent journalist who was given the task of investigating and digging about Hastings Kamuzu Banda Junior who wanted to contest in the 2028 elections in a country called Lawi Republic. Banda Junior received support from across Lawi, an imaginary country, and was projected to win the elections. The investigation was instituted by the main contender incumbent President Wongani, to find out his origins.
The story climaxes when Mchizanjala was sent to the FBI headquarters in USA and came back with a lot of twisted facts and it turned out to be more complicated than they thought it would be.
In a separate interview, Dzuwa Arts artistic director Ignatious Kaphinde said Mwana Wa Kamuzu talks about what will happen between 2025 and 2028, despite the book being published in 2010.
“We have so many interesting stories here that may turn into good stage plays, radio plays and films. At Dzuwa Arts, we believe in telling our stories. Mwana Wa Kamuzu is one such stories that we are determined to tell through acting,” he said.
Kaphinde said the motivation behind the play is to tell so many untold stories in Malawi.
With a six-member cast and most of the actors and actresses gone through Association for the Teaching of English in Malawi (Atem) competitions, Mwana Wa Kamuzu will also be staged in other cities.
“At the moment, we are fixing dates to perform in Blantyre on John Chilembwe Day on January 15 and then Zomba and Mzuzu. We are calling it The Malawi Tour,” he said.
The stage drama outfit has long-term plans of turning Mwana Wa Kamuzu into audio version and film.
The play is approved by the Malawi Classfication Board and the book has received approval from the Kamuzu family.