Hasting Kamuzu Banda was the leader of Nyasaland which became Malawi in 1964, with him as its president. Banda was born in Kasungu and went to study in the US and the UK.
He stayed in the UK where he practiced medicine, later moving to Gold Coast, (now Ghana). After much persuasion, Banda returned to Malawi and quickly became a political icon.
He was appointed Prime Minister of Nyasaland in 1963. A year later he proclaimed the country a republic and named it Malawi. He declared Malawi a one party state led by the Malawi Congress Party.
The party congress made him its president for life. Banda was stripped of the life presidency in 1993 when a referendum ended his reign. Banda died in 1997 at the age of 91.
Kamuzu was the son of subsistence farmers and received his earliest education in a mission school. After working in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa, in 1925 he went to the United States, where he received a B.A. (1931) and a medical degree (1937) at the University of Chicago and Meharry Medical College in Tennessee, respectively.
Banda first became involved in his homeland’s politics in the late 1940s, when white settlers in the region demanded the federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland. Banda and others in Nyasaland strongly objected to this extension of white dominance, but the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was nevertheless established in 1953.
He served as minister of natural resources and local government in 1961–63 colonial government, and he became prime minister in 1963, the year the federation was finally dissolved. He retained the post of prime minister when Nyasaland achieved independence in 1964. and became Malawi.
Shortly after independence, some members of Banda’s governing cabinet resigned in protest against his autocratic methods and his accommodation with South Africa and the Portuguese colonies. In 1965 a rebellion broke out—led by Henry Chipembere, one of these former ministers—but it failed to take hold in the countryside. Malawi became a republic in 1966, with Banda as president.
He was declared president for life in 1971. Banda concentrated on building up his country’s infrastructure and increasing agricultural productivity.
Widespread domestic protests and the withdrawal of Western financial aid forced Banda to legalize other political parties in 1993. He was voted out of office in the country’s first multiparty presidential elections, held in 1994, and in 1996 he relinquished the leadership of the Malawi Congress Party.