Rose Chibambo, one of the co-founders of Malawi is dead, Malawi24 has learnt.
Rose Lomathinda Chibambo, born on 8 September 1928, was a prominent human rights activists and politician against the Britain and Kamuzu Banda.
Having fought with others for the country’s independence, Rose Chimbambo became the first female cabinet minister in the Kamuzu Banda government before falling off with the dictator. She was then forced into exile for thirty years, returning after the restoration of democracy.
She married Edwin Chibambo, son of the Reverend Yesaya Chibambo, one of the first Africans in the British Protectorate of Nyasaland, as Malawi was known then, to be ordained as a Christian minister. She completed her secondary education at night school in Zomba in 1948 while pregnant with her first child.
As a member of Nyasaland African Congress (NAC) that was fighting against the Federation of Nyasaland and Rhodesia, Chibambo is said to have made the following remarks: “[Y]ou know, we are the mothers. We are the ones who bring out children and these children are employed by Wenela [in South Africa] at that time. They go to Wenela and most of them die there. They don’t come back alive. And then there’s a lot of oppression. There’s this thangata and with that federation, unfortunately for them, that time, they had already started removing people in the areas where they thought it was best for Europeans or it was best for farming … They wanted to make room for Europeans to settle. I said, you can see all these things. Now, we are being removed in our rural areas. We are being pushed here and there. And the women understood. They said, oh yes, then we must do something”
When she was arrested on 3rd March 1959, Rose Chibambo, 29 then, took with her to jail her firth born child, an infant.
After her release, she won the Mzimba South seat in the 1963 elections and was made Deputy Minister for Hospitals, Prisons and Social Welfare.
Chibambo and others opposed Kamuzu Banda’s decision to charge for health services and to move slowly in Africanization of the civil service. This was coupled with a general feeling that Banda was becoming increasingly autocratic, leading to the 1964 Cabinet Crisis. She was declared a traitor and threat to national security.
Rose Chibambo returned to Malawi in 1994 having fled to Zambia in 1965 with her husband following the cabinet crisis that led to their persecution from agents of the state in the dictatorial regime.
President Bingu wa Mutharika honoured Rose Chibambo by naming a street in Mzuzu City after her and having her face on the country’s K200 banknote.
She died in the early hours of Tuesday, 12 January, 2016 aged 87.
*If you met and interacted with Rose Chibambo, please tell us your experience or what you know of her and we will publish your story. email: [email protected]