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Remembering Bingu

For some reason whenever I met him Bingu called me ‘my first son’. I never found the occasion to ask him why.

Suffice to say I was evidently not particularly complimentary about his presidency. I found him rather arrogant and self-centred and I never shied away from saying so.

But, save for threats from a few of his overzealous apologists, somehow Bingu still called me ‘my first son’ whenever we crossed paths.

I think Bingu was a nice guy but he was in a wrong job at a wrong time. He obviously thought highly of himself. He once told friends Malawi was too small for him.

But I think he could have done well as a village chief where nobody was supposed to challenge his authority. He abhorred opposition. Remember how he prorogued Parliament when John Tembo and the gang pitted Section 65 over the national budget?

Those who say Bingu should have come immediately after Kamuzu are not wrong. Bingu should have been among the likes of Kenneth Kaunda, Julius Nyerere and Kamuzu Banda when the leader was supposed to ‘rule’ without opposition.

If truth be told, Bingu was a perfect example of a ‘Mr. Know-it-All’. Remember that time when we had to devalue the artificially strong kwacha? Everyone in his economic advisory team told him it was time to devalue. Guess what the Big Kahuna told the Chikaondas of this world: “Go rinse your brain in OMO!”

That was Bingu for you!

One positive attribute about Bingu was that when he believed in something he was prepared to defend it at whatever cost. Remember the incident about that British diplomat? Everyone knew it was crazy to expel Her Majesty’s top envoy whatever his indiscretions. But Bingu wanted him out regardless.

He had an advisory council headed by his own brother, Peter, with the likes of Rev. Fr. Boniface Tamani, Dr. Ken Lipenga and Prof. Mathews Chikaonda as members.

This group of wise men agreed it was suicidal to send Fergus Cochrane-Dyet packing. It agreed to send Peter to ‘talk nicely’ to his brother.

But it was too late. Bingu had already despatched Etta Banda, then Foreign Minister, to deliver the marching orders to the ‘wayward’ diplomat.

That was Bingu for you!

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