Born in Malawi near the turn of the century (most researchers have thought that Dr. Banda was born circa 1905, but interviews conducted by Donald Brody with relatives indicate that he was born ca. 1900; no record of his birth has been found), he moved to South Africa in his teens to work as a laborer. From there he went to the U.S. to attend school, graduating from high school from Wilberforce Academy in Ohio in 1925. He briefly attended Indiana University, followed by the University of Chicago. He studied medicine and became a doctor, working in Britain and Ghana before becoming active in politics and returning to Malawi. He was imprisoned in Gwelo Prison by the colonial government, where he began work on his autobiography.
Following his release from Gwelo Prison in 1960, he was involved in negotiations that would bring about independence for Nyasaland. During the country’s first elections in 1961, Banda was elected Minister of Land, Natural Resources and Local Government and later, in 1963, he became Prime Minister of Nyasaland. In July 1964, the British Secretary of State for African Affairs agreed to end the Federation, and Nyasaland became the independent Commonwealth of Malawi. Following a cabinet crisis, Banda emerged as the first President of Malawi in 1966. During that time, his party—the Malawi Congress Party (MCP)—was declared to be the only legal party. Later, in 1970, an MCP congress declared Banda its president for life, which was confirmed by the legislature in 1971. This was to be the beginning of an authoritarian government which lasted until 1993, when Banda’s one-party state was dismantled by a referendum and a special assembly stripped him of his title of President for Life. He was defeated by Bakili Muluzi in a democratic election in 1994. He died in 1997.
For more detailed information on Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s biography and political legacy, as well as further reading, please go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hastings_Banda or consult Indiana University Libraries' online catalog (IUCAT).
Donald A. Brody lived and worked in Malawi for several years. He was chosen by Dr. Banda as his official biographer and collected the materials in this archive for that purpose.