Monday, 19 March 2012

Kamuzu Academy, Mtunthama, Kasungu

Once you have been somewhere and lived there for some time, anything you think or see that reminds you of it brings back a variety of memories. So what do you write? And from what perspective do you write from? And where do you start from?  Do you write it as a national monument? Or do you write it as your old high school? I’ll start from the beginning, and I’ll write it from all views as best as I can.

Many decades ago, way before Malawi gained its independence, a young boy sat under a tree learning his alphabet in the district of Kasungu. This tree is the famous Kachere tree. But more importantly was the boy who sat underneath the tree, who made the tree famous. He was just a typical Malawian boy, but neither did anyone know that he would one day be a memorable leader and one of the greatest people in the history of Malawi and Africa. He was bound by destiny to be who he was meant to be. He was Ngwazi Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, Malawi’s first president.

He ruled Malawi under dictatorship. People had, and some still have mixed views and feelings about him and his rule. Some people adored him, others feared him. But generally people acknowledge him to have been a great leader, a man of vision who paved way for our nation. He has a number of biographies that detail his life and achievements from a number of perspectives so you can be the judge.

He was a man of vision who dealt with enormous challenges to obtain higher education. Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda sought to improve the educational system in Malawi, so that young Malawians would not have to travel to seek education.

"I do not want my boys and girls to do what I had to do - to leave their homes and their families and go away from Malawi to get an education." - Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda

The President wanted to found a school, not any ordinary school but a grammar school. A school that would be recognized for its excellence in Malawi and beyond.  He had a vision of what the school would look like down to the smallest detail. The school would be Kamuzu Academy, a garden of learning, ‘the Eton of Africa’.

“Honor Deo et Patriae”

So, with a clear vision in mind, on 4th September, 1978, the Founder laid the foundation stone of Kamuzu Academy.

The nickname ‘Eton of Africa’ comes from Eton college, which is a British independent school for boys aged 13 to 18. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI. It has a long list of distinguished former pupils and has been described as the most famous public school in the world.

Kamuzu Academy’s design was inspired by a variety of things and places.
Wilberforce Academy in Ohio, USA, whose clock tower is a model for the clock tower which is so prominent a feature of Kamuzu Academy.


With its Roman arches, gardens, ornamental lake, it’s an architectural wonder on its own.

The library, which must be one of my favourite places, is a miniature version of Washington DC’s library of congress as compared below.



The official opening of Kamuzu Academy by the Founder and Proprietor took place on 21st November, 1981. The Founder stipulated that at the core of the academic curriculum must be the study of the Classics - Ancient History, Greek and Latin - without which no man can truly call himself educated.

When it comes to student life I can’t even begin to describe it. Every student will have so many different memories of the same event or place. Some memories may be good, funny, epic or unforgettable, others may be bad, horrible and you’d want to forget as soon as possible. Such is life for any student, am sure we all had them no matter which school we went to.

There are a number of things that will bring back memories for K.A students and alumni, places such as, the library, assembly, auditorium, lecture theatre, pavilion, amphitheatre, maths block, science block, art gardens, fatigues, detentions, house dinners, hostels, ornamental lake, swimming pool, dining Hall, tuck-shop, clinic, road race, sports day, founders day and of course the apian way, just to mention a few.




Sadly, on 25th November 1997, the Founder Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda passed away.
His final resting place is in the newly built mausoleum in the capital city of Lilongwe.

And one of the latest monuments dedicated to him is also in the capital. Many buildings are scattered throughout the country bearing his name, Kamuzu international airport and Kamuzu stadium are such examples.

Other monuments are found on the Kamuzu academy Campus. Such monuments are Kamwala well, which the founder used to draw drinking water from.

And the Kachere tree which is also close to the campus is the first and most important monument of them all.

“The Kachere tree is now part of our heritage. Its roots are the roots of nationhood drawing sustenance from the richness and diversity of the land and its peoples - its trunk is testament to history and development - its green leaves and its branches reaching outwards signifying the life and aspirations of our people today; a nation taking its place in the world - its golden fruit heavy with the promise of youth and the hopes of generations. The green and gold of the Academy's uniform is a reminder of its Founder's roots, experiences and vision. It also symbolises his personal contribution to his people in establishing a model school offering education to the very highest international standards.”-

The late first president and founder left behind an unshakeable legacy, in which he has immortalized himself and continues to live on through a vision he had, the vision of a school of excellence, a garden of learning, a grammar school, the Eton of Africa, Kamuzu Academy.