Tears flowed freely Thursday as thousands of mourners from across the political divide, led by President Lazarus Chakwera, descended on Masula Village in Lilongwe to bid farewell to Malawi’s former first lady, Annie Chidzira Muluzi.
It was a rare spectacle as mourners— clad in political colours of the United Democratic Front, Malawi Congress Party, Democratic Progressive Party, UTM, Alliance for Democracy and People’s Party— coexisted to give a send off to a woman who diligently served Malawi as first lady for five years.
Muluzi, who died in Kenya on December 28 2021 after a long battle with cancer, was wife to former president Bakili Muluzi before the two divorced in 1999.
Dressed in black and escorted by thousands, Bakili, his son Atupele, and the rest of the Muluzi family wore a sombre mood throughout the funeral service before the body was lowered into the grave.
The burial service was accorded full military honours, with former president Joyce Banda, Vice President Saulos Chilima and former vice president Khumbo Kachale being among government officials that attended the ceremony.
Speaking on behalf of Chakwera, Deputy Minister of Defence Jean Sendeza said the deceased was a humble and trustworthy person and an example to all women.
In their eulogies, Tailos Bakili and former first lady Callista Mutharika thanked Chakwera for supporting Muluzi while she was in hospital.
Tailos spoke on behalf of the Muluzi family while Mutharika stood on behalf of first ladies.
“He [Chakwera] stressed that if there are some of us here who hold positions that the nation thinks fit us, we need to respect everyone as Muluzi [the deceased] did,” Sendeza said.
Mutharika described late Muluzi as a brave woman who stood by her husband, Bakili, at the dawn of democracy.
The deceased was born in 1952 and is survived by one son [Atupele] and five grandchildren.
Her body was repatriated from Kenya on Tuesday this week through Kamuzu International Airport.
Zambia President Hakainde Hichilema and former prime minister of Kenya Raila Odinga were some of the well-known people who sent their condolences to the Muluzi family.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.