Malawians trek to funeral of Mutharika

2012-04-23 13:23
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

Malawi president remains return home

Scores of people welcomed home the body of late president Bingu wa Mutharika, flown back from South Africa following his fatal heart attack.

Ndata - Thousands of Malawians flocked on Monday by foot, on bicycles and in vehicles to the burial of controversial leader Bingu wa Mutharika at a family mausoleum dubbed the 'Taj Mahal'.

Fackson Moya, 48, walked 10km to witness the last journey of the man praised for early polices that ended a devastating famine but died in office blamed for pushing one of the world's poorest nations deeper into crisis.

"It is worth it for me to walk this distance to come and say bye to our hero who ended hunger in Malawi," Moya told AFP ahead of the funeral Monday which was being attended by several African leaders, including Malawi's new President Joyce Banda.

The government declared the day a national holiday to allow people to attend the funeral after tens of thousands had filed past the body as it lay in state in the capital and three cities across the country.

The late leader was to be buried alongside his wife Ethel on his sprawling family farm in the southern district of Thyolo.

He will be laid to rest in the white marble edifice he had built during his eight years in charge of one of the world's most impoverished nations.

The former World Bank economist designed the building himself and called it 'Mpumulo wa Bata', which means 'peaceful rest' in the country's main language Chichewa. But the country's media has dubbed it the 'Taj Mahal'.

Enelesi Kabichi, 56, was curious about the "big house" which was splashed on the front page of the local newspaper Daily Times on Monday.

"I wanted to come and see this white building where the president will be laid to rest. This is something new in our culture that a house can be built for a dead person," she said.

Mixed reactions

The funeral will cost 242 million Malawian kwacha ($1.5m), Malawi's Sunday Times reported, including 20 million kwacha for decorations and 21 million on funeral cloth handed to Malawians for free.

Mutharika, who died aged 78 of a heart attack on 05 April amid demands for him to step down, had said he wanted his mausoleum to be a "national monument to be visited by Malawians as part of a national heritage".

"He created space for himself at the mausoleum," local government minister Henry Mussa told AFP.

Mussa said the mausoleum, "built like a house, has two tombs... one for the wife and one for Mutharika. The mausoleum will be a museum at the end of the day".

The late president also built a marble-and-granite mausoleum costing $600 000 for Malawi's founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who died in 1997.

Mutharika came to power in 2004 as the country's third president.

He was the first to die in office and Joyce Banda, his former foe and vice president, was sworn in as the country's new leader hours after his death was officially confirmed two days later.

His death has met with mixed reactions, as many people in the impoverished southern African state accused him of poor economic policies and suppression of basic freedoms in his second term which lead to major clashes with donors.

Read more on:    joyce banda  |  bingu wa mutharika  |  malawi  |  southern africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Tab P7500 10.1" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 gives you a better experience for...

From R4999.00

I'm shopping for:


You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.