Thursday, March 29, 2012

Matchipisa Munthali, The Malawian Mandela, Still Strong at 87

(Cannot reveal more details in this article, wait for his book: Matchipisa: An Autobiography which is being written now, i will edit it myself!)

27 years in prison under Kamuzu’s rule has earned him the nickname “Mandela,” at 87, he has not given up on politics…

He says he will stand again for the position of MP in 2014 if people want him to, he won’t say the party he will represent but he swears standing for DPP will be madness.

“DPP is the worst regime ever, MCP’s brutality was acceptable because people were illiterate and we were under one party,” he charges.

That is Matchipisa Munthali born 15 August 1925; a rich man by any standard: in his prime he had 22 canoes, 2 trawl nets, 30 cows, 22 goats, 13 sheep, 7 houses in Rumphi, 7 houses in Mzuzu, two Tata Trucks, 1 Toyota Venture, a Rest House, A bottle store and has a boat under construction and a deep water trawling license being processed.

Grace and Matchipi - Still Growing Strong 

He was arrested for his active role around the cabinet crisis period since he was Kanyama Chiume’s representative and a popular politician in Rumphi. He fled to Tanzania and went to China where he studied guerrilla warfare and he boasts of coming out top of his class.

Upon arrival in Malawi with his guns, he was arrested as he was trying to recruit rebels and was charged with high treason, he was convicted and sentenced to five years and the government kept on holding to him after the sentence under the ‘Prevention Act.’

Matchipisa says he actually planned to form a party (Malawi Democratic People’s Party) and when Chakufwa Chihana also said he had a party in mind when they met at Maula prison, the two agreed that whoever goes out first will announce party first.

He was released on 12 June 1992 and after suing government for wrongful arrest he was given K4.5 million which still sets him apart from many ex-cons.

He has lost three times as Member of Parliament and he is not giving up yet. In 1997 he stood as an independent, in 2004 he represented as UDF and in 2009 as independent again.

“Chakufwa feared me, he instructed people not to invite me to executive meetings when I was in Aford, he intimidated people in my constituency and sponsored violence when I was standing as an independent MP in 1997, he even dressed me down at a rally in Rumphi,” said Matchipisa.

Matchipisa says he will stand again in 2014 if his people ask him to. He is still strong, he manages his wealth alone, he travels long distances on foot and the only ailment he has is that to speak to him you have to speak louder.

“I think staying in prison is the reason I am healthy, all my contemporaries are too old, it must be the prison food and it’s why I don’t eat hybrid chicken up to now,” says Matchipisa.

Mandela's Stone House at Mlowe

He is involved in multiple charity projects, he was instrumental in bringing electricity to Mlowe, he dug deep to help build Mlowe Community Day Secondary School, he has built houses for his sisters, he has lorries that ferry people to and from Mlowe since the bus services stopped.

“For me being an MP is not about making a name or getting the money, I want to help the community, I just want to develop the area, and it’s why I built a rest house, bottle store here.”

The most interesting story about ‘Mandela’ is when he wrote his wife Grace Nkhwazi from prison to get married and went to reclaim her after coming out of prison, not many can take back a wife after 20 or so years with another man.