President Lazarus Chakwera this morning visited the gravesite of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) founder Orton Ching’oli Chirwa who died in 1992 after he was imprisoned for his opposition to the single-party rule under MCP.
Chakwera stopped at the gravesite in Manolo Village in Nkhatabay while he and First Lady Monica Chakwera were on their way to the Martyrs’ Day commemoration.
In his speech, Chakwera, who is the current MCP president, described Chirwa as a great national hero who fought for freedom from foreign oppression.
“If you are a citizen of Malawi you owe Chirwa your thanks for he was a key figure in the transformation of Nyasaland, a nation of subjects, into Malawi, a nation of citizens,” said Chakwera.
He added that Chirwa, as Malawi’s first Minister of Justice, laid the foundations for the current Justice system. He further said that Chirwa also set the standard for how a principled person speaks truth to power and does not relent.
In a Facebook post after the visit, Chakwera said his administration will construct a befitting mausoleum to fully preserve the history that accompanies Chirwa’s accomplishments.
“Not only was he the founder of the Malawi Congress Party but also a fine barrister and vociferous activist who was driven by urge for equality among all people. He believed that for a People to develop they must be emancipated socially, economically and politically in equal measure,” Chakwera wrote.
Orton Chirwa, the former Attorney General of Malawi, died in prison in Zomba on 20 October 1992 at the age of 73.
He was imprisoned for nearly 11 years for non-violent opposition to the single-party government of Life President Kamuzu Banda. According to a report by Amnesty International, a delegation of British lawyers who saw him in September 1992 reported that he was in very poor health – virtually deaf and blind. At various times during his imprisonment he had been kept in leg irons and much of his imprisonment was spent in solitary confinement.