A complicated legacy

Rebecca Jacobson
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Malawi gained independence from Britain in 1964, and the country was led by Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda until 1994. Newcomers to Malawian political history will likely view Banda as a repressive dictator — he made himself Life President, jailed political opponents, and imposed widespread censorship. He even banned the Simon & Garfunkel song “Cecilia,” the name of his mistress. But Banda’s legacy proves a complicated one. As the first leader of a post-colonial Malawi, many Malawians credit him with independence. The country also achieved relative stability and safety under Banda (though these gains were no doubt due to his repressive rule), and a current of nostalgia still runs through modern Malawi.


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