Kondwani Magombo- Mana
The construction of Kamuzu Memorial Park will start soon at the Kamuzu Mausoleum in Lilongwe, Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development, Cecilia Chazama, disclosed Wednesday.
The minister said this when she toured the Mausoleum to appreciate the site and how best it could be improved to attract visitors from within and abroad.
She said the Kamuzu Memorial Park, where the founding father of the nation rests, could turn into centre of attraction when everything as planned was in place.
“Government will soon embark on Phase one of the construction of the Kamuzu Memorial Park because we have an allocation for the task in the 2017/18 national budget and the Buildings and Construction Department has already done the designing of the Park,” said Chazama.
She said the full design of the Memorial park would among other things include a fence, library containing books and literature about the first Malawi President, his personal things and everything that defined the fallen Malawi leader.
Director of Culture, Dr. Elizabeth Gomani Chindevu, who accompanied the minister, said the construction of the Kamuzu Memorial Park would also help generate funds as visitors would be required to pay a fee to tour the Park and the Mausoleum.
“As it is now it is difficult for us to introduce a fee for visiting the Mausoleum because there is no fence and an office for the cashier to be operating in. But when everything is in place, it would be easy to run the Park with a fee attached for a visit,” said Chindevu.
During the visit, the Director of Culture briefed the minister on some challenges at the Mausoleum which include cracks, faulty wiring and leaking in some areas and she said there was need for immediate maintenances to rectify the challenges.
The Kamuzu Mausoleum was constructed from 2005 – 2006 by Malawi’s third President, Prof. Bingu Mutharika, and it was unveiled on May 14, 2006, to coincide with the Kamuzu Day.
The design of the Mausoleum connotes a rich history and culture of the country as it is supported by four strong corner pillars representing Unity, Loyalty, Discipline and Obedience, on which Dr. Banda built the nation; six pillars on each of the four sides representing the 24 district that were there until Dr. Banda’s death on November 25, 1997; and four inner corner pillars resenting the additional four districts that came after Kamuzu’s demise.
The Mausoleum has two sections, the basement where the body of Dr. Banda lies deep under in a Chewa culture (about 2m away to the left of the tomb) and the upper section where another tomb is placed directly in line with Dr. Banda’s exact resting place underneath.
The upper section is open to the public while the basement section is only open to VVIP, according to Chindevu.
Dr. Banda’s tomb on the upper section is shrouded in a shrub and bushy overgrowth in each corner while in each of the outer corner, there is Mkunguza tree and all this gives the place the common appearance of a rural grave yard.
“You know Kamuzu was a Chewa. That’s why he was buried in a Chewa culture where the body is placed in a special room curved on the side of the grave commonly called saiti and the green overgrowth around the tomb mimics the Chewa graveyard,” explained Chindevu.