Lower Shire political giant Gwanda Chakuamba was interred yesterday at his home in Chinyanje village, Traditional Authority Mlolo in Nsanje, ending a long political career which started in the early 1960s.
At exactly 14:17 hours, Malawi Defence Force soldiers lowered his casket into the grave as the crowd that gathered watched solemnly.
Chakuamba who died on Tuesday at Blantyre Adventist Hospital was accorded full military honours following his selfless service to the nation, according to Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda who represented President Peter Mutharika at the ceremony.
The military honours included a gun salute and military band performance.
The ceremony was conducted by the Seventh Day Adventist Church led by Pastor Frackson Kuyama who also preached at the service.
The death also buried political differences as members of the Democratic Progress Party, United Democratic Front and Malawi Congress Party – all of which Chakuamba served – were united in grief while dressed in their respective political party attire.
Dignitaries at the service included former president Bakili Muluzi, Minister of Trade Joseph Mwanamvekha, Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera, People’s Party interm president Uladi Mussa and former speaker of Parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda.
In his statement at the funeral, Chaponda, who acknowledged Chakwera’s presence, said Chakuamba’s pacifying and forgiving character should be a lesson to all Malawians including politicians.
“He demonstrated that in politics there are no permanent enemies as evidenced by his rejoining Malawi Congress Party under whose rule he was jailed for 13 years,” Chaponda said.
He commended all political parties in the country for mourning together the fallen giant.
“Let us continue living in harmony as we have done today for the sake of the development of the country,” he said.
Eulogies from members of the family also hailed Chakuamba as having been a father figure.