Dr HK Banda, first president of Malawi. Image via National Archives of Malawi
When is Kamuzu Day?
How long until Kamuzu Day?
|This holiday next takes place in 353 Days.|
Dates of Kamuzu Day
|Official birthday of Malawi's first president, the late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda|
Kamuzu Day is a public holiday in Malawi, observed on May 14th. If May 14th falls on a weekend, the following Monday will be a public holiday.
This day commemorates Malawi's first president, Hastings Kamuzu Banda.
History of Kamuzu Day
Kamuzu Banda was born near Kasungu in Malawi (then British Central Africa). His date of birth is unknown, as it took place when there was no birth registration. Even though it was assumed he was born in March or April 1898, his official birthday was observed on May 14th.
After receiving much of his education overseas, Banda returned home (then British Nyasaland) to speak against colonialism and advocate independence.
Banda was formally appointed as prime minister of Nyasaland in 1963 and led the country to independence on July 6th 1964. He chose the name Malawi for the fledgeling nation, after the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area.
Two years later he proclaimed Malawi a republic with himself as president. Under a new constitution, he consolidated power, making Malawi a one-party state under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). In 1971, he became President for Life of Malawi.
Banda's control over Malawi started to wane after the collapse of the Soviet Union. His vehement anti-communist stance had led to support from western countries. Those countries would only continue to give aid to Malawi if he implemented a series of reforms. In 1993, mounting pressure from within and from the international community forced Banda to hold a referendum on whether to maintain the one-party state. The referendum resulted in 64% in favour of multiparty democracy. Banda ran in the first democratic presidential election in 1994 and was defeated by Bakil Muluzi.
Banda died in South Africa on 25 November 1997, aged 98.
This public holiday had been observed across Malawi for 30 years. It was banned when the country attained multiparty democracy in 1993. It was reinstated by President Bingu wa Mutharika in 2009 replacing Freedom Day which marked the 1993 National Referendum that ushered in the multiparty democracy.