By Duncan Mlanjira
The esteem and admiration, coupled with the enigma that Malawians hold on one of their most celebrated citizen, Mama Cecilia Tamanda Kadzamira, will now be explained better through a book soon to be unveiled.
Entitled ‘Mama of the Nation: The Story of Cecilia Tamanda Kadzamira’, the book will be available through distributors such as amazon.com while the launch will be held when CoVID-19 precautions shall permit more gatherings.
The authors Phylliss Wezeman, Stephanie Wezeman, Chrissy Kadzamira and Dave Brodgett say the book has two page spreads that convey the story of Mama Cecilia from birth through current and ongoing activities. “A title word describes Mama at each stage of life followed by a Chichewa translation of the word to ground the story in Malawi and introduce readers outside of East Central Africa to a beautiful language rarely spoken beyond that region.”
The authors say this book, which targets every age, is needed now taking cognizance that “Mama Cecilia is a strong African woman who has worked tirelessly to improve life for women in Malawi and across the continent”. “She can continue to be a positive role model long into the future is her story is too. Female historical figures have often been disregarded or under-appreciated because only recently have women been part of writing history.
“Female historical figures of color have been grossly under-represented, but this book raises one more voice.”
A preamble to the book’s flyer says: “[It’s] summer, 2006, the Malawians in the car looked stunned when Phylliss [Wezeman] told them who they were going to visit before heading to the airport at the end of this long, productive trip.“‘We are going to Mama’s house?’ Their awe and reverence signalled that this would not be like the other visits to families of Malawian friends back in Indiana.
“They were about to meet a living legend, who just happened to be the aunt of our good friend, Chrissy [Kadzamira].
“As Phylliss learned more about this remarkable woman over six years of annual visits, she knew that her story needed to be told. Phylliss asked Mama why her biography hadn’t been written yet.
“Mama said, ‘because I won’t let them. But you can do it’. That’s when this project began.”
The book launch has a campaign ‘Buy One Give One’ that for every book sold in the US, “we will send one to Malawi. We have a strong network of contacts in the education system who will get the books into the hands of teachers and children across the country.
“Our plan is to start in the Central Region, where we have done the most work, then Branch out to the North and South.”
The authors say if they sell 250 books, one shall go to the library for Teacher Development Centre (TDC) in each of the Central Region’s 11 districts and at 2,500 books, one to go to each TDC and one each to each primary school in the Central Region.
“If we sell more, we can also get books into the hands of teachers and students in the North and South.”
Initially the book, which sells for $19.99 plus $3.00 for media mail or $8.00 for priority mail, is available through the publisher, River Bend Arts but can also be obtained through www.mamaofthenation.com and www.riverbendarts.net.
For additional information, the public is encouraged to contact the authors at Phylliswezeman1@gmail.com; 574-255-3570
Mama Cecilia Tamanda Kadzamira (born 25 June 1938) was the official hostess of Malawi during the reign of Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda.
Wikipedia chronicles that Mama was born in Southern Rhodesia and lived in Old Highfield, Salisbury (now Harare) where she attended school at Mbizi Primary.
After her GCE she enrolled at Salisbury Central Hospital as a cadet nurse where she qualified and was briefly posted to Old Highfields Clinic and when her father, John Kadzamira, returned home with his family, she joined Dr. Banda at his Limbe medical practice as a staff nurse.
After working for Dr. Banda as a nurse, Mama Kadzamira, who is niece to political stalwart John Tembo, moved to Zomba State House as the President’s private secretary.
After the cabinet crisis in 1964, where Dr. Banda consolidated his political power, she was appointed the Official Government Hostess, at the suggestion from Ismael Surtee, Banda’s utmost closest associate and head speaker of Zomba — who was one of the most important figures in the government beneath Dr. Banda at that time.
Mama Kadzamira initiated and managed Chitukuko Cha Amayi muMalawi (CCAM).