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Rose Chibambo dies

Malawi’s first female cabinet minister Rose Chibambo died yesterday morning at Mwaiwathu Private Hospital in Blantyre due to heart complications. She was 87.

The only living Malawian who was appearing on the country’s bank notes, Rose Lomathinda Chibambo (nee Ziba) was besides being the first female cabinet minister also the first and only woman in Nyasaland African Congress executive. She was the last surviving member of the 1964 cabinet.

As one of the independence fighters, Chibambo was also the founder and leader of Women’s League, First MP for Mzimba South, philanthropist, church elder, mother and a role model to many.

Desmond Dudwa Phiri said Chibambo married his school teacher at Livingstonia and described her as “a kind-hearted, very intelligent woman who was not afraid to speak the truth.”

“Personally, she was a friend, we admired each other mutually but I think of Rose Chibambo mostly in terms of her life as a patriot. Rose Chibambo is unique to the history of Malawi because she was the one who took serious interest in nationalist politics. In those days, in the 50s women did not take part in national politics…it was Chibambo who first took keen interest,” he said.

“We are going to miss her much as a nation and for those of us from Mzimba as our contributions to the nationalist movement,” said a tearful Phiri.

Chibambo was born on September 8 1928 and was an influential figure in the independence struggle of British Protectorate of Nyasaland.

Chibambo studied Adult and General Education in Britain and had six children Roy, Royce, Malibase, Khataza, Gadi and Phumile. More details of Chibambo’s life in our special tribute to her on page 53 of this edition.

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