10 JULY 1964, Page 6

Malawi is Born

IAM here for two reasons. First, because, as II said in the House of Commons recently on the second reading of the Malawi Independence Bill, for good or ill I have more reponsibility than any other Briton for the chain of events that led to today. It is just over four years since I ordered the release Of Dr. Banda from Gwelo gaol in Southern Rhodesia. He was flown secretly to meet me at Government House in Zomba. There were no riots. None of the baleful predictions of Federal Ministers came true. Instead, there was a sudden and dramatic lower- ing of tension in Nyasaland. Dr. Banda's return, of course, did not solve all the problems; it even created some new ones. But it made solutions possible. When explaining my decision at a press conference, I had said: 'In prison Dr. Banda is a myth. Out of prison he is a man, and I can talk with men.' I have always found it easy to talk to Dr. Banda. I still do. And the second reason I am here with my, wife is because Dr. Banda asked us both as his personal guests to the Independence celebrations of the new State of Malawi. I. wanted very much, even in a private capacity, to be in at the birth. I had not expected to see Dr. Banda, Prime Minister of Malawi, for private talks during the three days of crowded ceremonial, but I had hardly settled in on Saturday when the sirens of his escort announced the arrival of the great Kamuzu. We had tea and a talk that went on so long that the next engagement for Dr. Banda had to be put back sixty minutes. He is relaxed and very sure of himself, only the mention of Welensky's name stirring his old fire. His speeches at the ceremonies included the ritual burial of Federation and Royboy, but included also genuine appeals to Europeans to forget the past and work for the new Malawi. He has recommended my host in Blantyre, Judge South- worth, to be Chief Justice, even though judges have also been brought in from other African countries; and he has given Leslie Little, the former leader of the United Federal Party, the key post of chairman of the Malawi Develop- ment Corporation. The lovely country of Malawi looked its best, and was on its best behaviour for the joyous days of Independence. No doubt the Commonwealth Relations Office has now plenty of experience in organising Independence Days, but this was very much Malawi's own show: and the impeccable planning, plus the' split-second timing, was much admired by the representatives of seventy coun- tries. It was, above all, a joyous, happy, laughing day as Malawi was born. There was not the remotest sign of tensions; there was, instead, a relaxed, almost casual, acceptance of the new role. There were small but happy crowds every- where, and less noise—and certainly less disorder —at the Central New Stadium than at any match at Murraylield or Cardiff Arms Park. The most moving moment was not the exchange of flags at midnight, but the handing over of colours when the 1st King's African Rifles became the Malawi Rifle Guards. The same officers, and the same men—but soldiers now of a new country. Prince Philip, of course, was a tremendous success, and the fantastic display 'of fireworks at midnight was more popular still. Southern Rhodesia was very much in people's mind, and there was a warm welcome for Winston Field, one of the few Southern Rho- desian Europeans trusted by Malawi. It seemed both odd and pleasant that frequent twenty-one-

gun salutes for Prince Philip were fired by Southern Rhodesian Territorials (perhaps the last in Nyasaland) who arrested the leaders of the new country in 1959.

The emergency is long forgotten and the representatives of all three British parties have been most warmly welcomed. Perhaps my most abiding memory is of the strength of the in- fluence of the churches—especially the Church of Scotland. At the Independence service on Chiciri Hill, where the martyrs of 1915 lie buried, I was startled to hear the strains of 'Waltzing Matilda' for the hymn 'Bringing in the Sheaves.' This was a favourite hymn of Dr. Banda and his colleagues in Gwelo gaol. Harvest time was came, and Dr. Banda, to warm, laughing ap- plause from the gay people of Malawi, was bringing in the sheaves. Blantyre is also the name of David Livingstone's birthplace in Lanark- shire. He would have laughed and cheered today.

So the tumult and the shouting dies, and the Princes and Ministers prepare to depart. As with the release of Dr. Banda from Gwelo, the problems are not over: they are just beginning. There are formidable entries on both sides of the ledger. The chief entry on the credit side is the Prime Minister himself, for Malawi, more even than any other African country, is a one-man banda. As with other Commonwealth leaders, some of his speeches will annoy us, but he has also a true regard and admiration for this coun- try and many friends on both sides of the

House of Commons. And he is very much in charge. Malawi is to be a monarchy, at least in the early stage of Independence. There can be no doubt that one of Dr. Banda's reasons for this decision was his desire to keep the friendly guidance and advice of Sir Glyn Jones, now the first Governor-General of Malawi. `Jonas' is one of the wisest and calmest of men, and he created the same sort of relationship based on mutual respect with Dr. Banda as Sir Richard Turnbull did with Julius Nyererc in Tanganyika. Then, apart from the brief flurry of the Emergency, Nyasaland was traditionally a happy State. There are few tribal problems. The small com- munity of Europeans (some 8,000 strong) have on the whole gone along with the different stages of Independence. There is a development plan calling for the expenditure of some £9 million a year for five years. A mission from the World Bank has been in the country and private in- vestment and American aid are increasing.

But the debit side has also to be examined. Malawi is desperately poor. Britain accepts that she must continue to give substantial aid to the neW country for some years ahead. For some years too, at least, Malawi will have to rely on Southern Rhodesia and South Africa to absorb some of her surplus labour. It is no disrespect to some able Africans (perhaps David Rubadiri, the new Ambassador to the United States and the UN, is the ablest of them all) to say that the crust of government is alarmingly thin. Malawi will live a precarious life until in due time Zambia and Zimbabwe also become independent countries with African leaders, and a new Federation can be formed, But she will live.