Monday, March 11, 2013


The report produced by the Commission that undertook an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the demise of late President Bingu wa Mutharika and the subsequent rise to power of President Joyce Banda has surely brought in a range of selective perceptions from the public.

While many are sticking to the legal aspects and the arrests already making rounds in town, I choose to put my efforts and focus on something else and today’s entry will focus on culture in regards to Bingu’s death.

In our Malawian culture, a corpse is referred to as “mfumu” (king) regardless of who the deceased was in society.

For instance if you are playing football and you see a group of women weeping while carrying tree branches, you are obliged to stop even if the ball is on the goal line ready to be calculated into a goal. Even an imbecile gets such treatment upon death. You cannot just underrate the decorum with which a corpse is handled.

As I was going through the document, I anticipated seeing a page where family and government officials clashed over the hullabaloo that surrounded Bingu’s body.

I expected family to stand strong and deny all this nonsense of letting the body start rotting just because they had to look into succession issues first. 

Everywhere I look, my eyes meet greed as the main reason why even Bingu’s family indulged in such a cultural malpractice. The older members of the family Peter (his ONLY brother) and Callista (his WEDDED wife) overrode humanity and failed to use their ubunthu in making sure that the body of their departed family member was treated well.

At this point, according to the testimony of Mrs. Stella Warren, the body of the President began to bleed from nose and mouth. The South African medical personnel got worried since they did not want their linen to be stained in blood.Accordingly,Mrs. Stella Warren got some gauze and packed it in both nostrils. This did not work. More gauze was used to cover the nostrils, and a diaper was used to cover the mouth and then she tied it with linen. As they were working on the body turning it upside down, the bleeding started again and Mrs. Stella Warren made sure that she cleaned and dressed the body accordingly in readiness for evacuation to South Africa”- THE REPORT

It was Peter’s greed that made him force medical personnel at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) to proceed with resuscitation procedure hours after Bingu was already pronounced dead. We learn that Peter’s logic was based on that he had read some literature somewhere where it said that people can come back to life four hours after having a cardiac arrest (Share me the literature Sir)  

Call me anti Peter (of course I am) but honestly I understand why he is not fit to lead a country which has a deep regard for culture. The dude failed to manage his own family affairs and how can we entrust him with the affairs of a country?

“The team further noted that several ribs were broken especially on the left hand side of the body. The sternum was also fractured”- THE REPORT

No wonder he was not there to celebrate his brother’s victory for the Presidency in 2004 and also failed to come in 2007 when Bingu lost his first wife, Ethel.

Similarly, I expected the kids to stop this kind of nonsense as their father’s body was being tossed around.
With the knowledge that a Roman Catholic Priest had already given an offertory prayer to commit Bingu’s spirit into God’s hands, why didn’t the family seek guidance from the men of God on what they had to do?

Bingu's children; Madalitso, Noma, Duwa and Tapiwa needed strong guidance from the male authority of the family and Peter was that person. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be; Peter’s greed made him mistreat the body of his only brother. He allowed the body of his only brother to evade proper embalmment in good time as if in rotting, the body was going to resurrect.

If one family member dies, that person does not get any replacement no matter what. This makes me wonder why Bingu’s own family fell for this foolish trick of concealing his death.  He was gone and even if Peter had stolen the Presidency, life would not have been the same. There is no justification whatsoever for them to do that.

“Prof Liomba told the Commission that when you embalm a body which is already decomposing, what you do is to stop further decomposition. He further explained that the face of the late President was very dark not because of the embalming but due to part of the blood that circulates since the body stayed for a long time on an open place before being embalmed.As a matter of fact, the body stayed in the open without refrigeration for about 18 hours after death”-THE REPORT

I did not love Bingu that much due to his arrogance but I respected him as a Head of State. For one to overlook the need to respect his dead body for personal aggrandisement it makes me sick and dizzy.

And Callista, what kind of woman is she? I cannot think of any other Malawian woman so brave and hard-heartened to allow the concealment of her husband’s death just to nurse the ambitions of others. Did she really mean it when she made that vow in April, 2009 at Civo Stadium when she said she would love Bingu always?”  

This was an opportunity for Callista to show us that she was a loving wife; she would have faced Peter head on and advise him accordingly. Are we wrong to say that she married Bingu for his wealth? Are we being unfair to say she is a gold (or PLATINUM) digger?

Why is it that the first woman who had to treat Bingu’s death with dignity was President, Dr Joyce Banda not his own wife?

I now appreciate why the woman who Callista attacks as a “mandasi woman” is Malawian in many aspects including culture.

In all this I see one thing, a greedy brother, an opportunistic wife and children who were left misguided in that hard moment.

May Bingu wa Mutharika’s soul rest in eternal peace.


  1. You have to understand the grieving process in the psychology then you will understand what it meant to the family.

    1. Grieving process aside, let it be said that Peter had to guide the family being the eldest and most influential member of the family. His silence cannot be attributed to the grieving process rather his desire to steal the Presidency. Mind you he started convening meetings the same day his brother died. Why did he fail to organize a siwa and invite the family to converge to start the mourning process? He turned his house into a meeting place of party and government officials for his own ill motives. No apologies to that regard

  2. i second to your opinion dalitso, my fellow anonymous friend how would you have felt if someone did that to your fathers body?