Cecilia Kadzamira
Cecilia Kadzamira.jpg
BornCecilia Tamanda Kadzamira
(1938-06-25) 25 June 1938 (age 83)
Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)
NationalityMalawian, Zimbabwean
Other names"Mama"[1]
OfficeFirst Ladies and Gentlemen of Malawi
PredecessorElizabeth Hester Douglas-Home
Political partyMalawi Congress Party

Cecilia Tamanda Kadzamira was the official hostess of Malawi during the reign of Kamuzu Banda. Whilst she and Dr. Banda were not officially married, she served as the first lady or official hostess for several years. For several years, she was the most powerful woman in Malawi. Ms Kadzamira, is fondly referred to as "Mama", or "Mother of the Nation".[2]

Early life

She was born in Southern Rhodesia and lived in Highfield, Salisbury (now Harare) where she attended school at Mbizi Primary.[citation needed] After her GCE she enrolled at Salisbury Central Hospital as a cadet nurse where she qualified and was briefly posted to Old Highfields Clinic.[citation needed] When her father, John Kadzamira, returned home with his family, including David Zimani Kadzamira. She joined Dr. Banda at his Limbe medical practice as a staff nurse.

Early career

After working for Dr. Banda as a nurse at the Limbe Surgery, Cecilia moved to Zomba State House as Dr. Banda's private secretary.[3]

Political career and influence

After the cabinet crisis in 1964, where Banda consolidated his political power, she was appointed the Official Government Hostess (OGH). This was suggested by the Hon. Ismael Surtee, Banda's utmost closest associate and head speaker of Zomba, making him one of the most important figures in the government beneath Banda at that time. With his influence, Kamuzu accepted.[4] There is speculation of her role in the Machiavellian public trial and hanging of Albert Muwalo, the last MCP Secretary-General (thereafter the post was reduced to Administrative Secretary). After much resistance and ahead of the official visit by Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya and the Kenyan first lady Mama Ngina, Dr. Banda finally 'succumbed'. Cecilia Kadzamira's name and title changed from OGH to Mama Tamanda C. Kadzamira, 'Mama' of the nation.[5]

In quick succession and in line with her new first lady duties, Dr. Banda announced Mama Tamanda Kadzamira would run an organization called Chitukuko Cha Amayi muMalawi (CCAM),[citation needed] giving her more influence in Malawian politics and greater control over who had access to Banda. In 1974, when John Tembo, as chairman of the National Celebrations Council, transferred the venue of the Youth Week Inauguration venue it to Lilongwe without Banda's authority, Kadzamira pleaded with Dr. Banda and saved Tembo from express expulsion from the MCP.[citation needed] Instead, Tembo was relegated to the post of governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi, while Gwanda Chakuamba, then deputy commander-in-chief of the Malawi Young Pioneers, rose.[citation needed]

She made many decisions as Banda became older and could no longer run the affairs of the country.[3] When Dr Banda turned senile, she unsuccessfully tried to influence him to sponsor John Tembo as his successor in the party. Though Tembo had been acting in Banda's place in his absence,[6] Banda handed the MCP political baton to Gwanda Chakuamba.

Relationship with Banda

She was a confidante and friend of Kamuzu Banda. Her influence over his political and personal decisions played a significant role in the development of Banda and Malawi. The two friends were inseparable, and she influenced many aspects of his life such as who he had access to, reading materials, knowledge that was passed to him, and policies he signed.[3] When she and Banda were going through a difficult time, Banda banned the song "Cecilia" by Simon and Garfunkel because of its lyrics that hit too close to home, such as "Cecilia, I'm down on my knees, I'm beggin' you please to come home..."[7]


  1. Zgambo-Mapemba, Dumase (2013-03-26). "Mama Cecilia Kadzamira". The Nation (Malawi). Archived from the original on 2013-02-09. Retrieved 2013-03-28.
  2. "BBC News | AFRICA | Mystery of the Banda millions". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-04-05.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Obituary: Dr Hastings Banda - Obituaries - News - The Independent". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-04-05.
  4. "Commanding the respect of Malawians -The Nation Online". mwnation.com. Retrieved 2015-04-05.
  5. Englund, H. (2002). A Democracy of Chameleons: Politics and Culture in the New Malawi. Stylus Pub Llc. p. 182. ISBN 9789171064998. Retrieved 2015-04-05.
  6. "The real power in Africa rests with its first ladies - Life and Style - nation.co.ke". nation.co.ke. Retrieved 2015-04-05.
  7. Suleiman, Rashid (September 2008). "African Dictators – Kamuzu Banda: The Control Freak". politicalarticles.net. Retrieved 28 March 2016.