Thursday, July 13, 2006


7 days have gone since Chakufwa Chihana left us to the land of the dead.The official 5 day mourning is over and so is the biblical 7 days mourning period.Although Chakufwa Chihana is 6 feet under the earth,It seems he will continue to make news.The commotion leading to his burial and the news thereafter has been a source of discomfort to me.

You can't mourn a hero with thugery attitudes. Equally discomforting were the words that were said in what were believed to be tributes. I was disturbed with one line sentence which ended by saying "CRY FOR HIM IF YOU WANT TO" A full blown debate seems to be emerging about his tribal antics.The purpose of my article is not to condemn or commend what has been and continue to be said.

I personally also said things which may not please late chihana's close associates.I remember writing something like:

"His main weakness, which grew more evident in later years, was self deceit - something which is a frequent temptation to politicians especially those who think that they are naturally and effortlessly cleverer than those around them. To his loyal supporters, he was a hero who laid the foundations of the new Malawi. To his opponents; he was a corrupt politician who exploited his position to enjoy an extravagant way of life. Chihana fanned a political class of cronyism in an atmosphere of corruption and bullying.

His assiduous cultivation of potentially useful as a mullah of the northern region occasionally backfired. Close friends like Dan Msowoya and Chipimpha Mughogho will always testify to his charm, generosity and affability as well as to his accurate judgment. Those outside the firmly drawn circle saw a diminutive figure with a hooded expression and a conspiratorial manner coupled with a quite remarkable degree of self control under pressure. He could be rude without being self-revelatory and seemed incapable of being surprised"

It now turned out that those of us who have voiced negative sentiments may have wronged an innocent person who was acting out of ailment. Over the last 5 days,I took an interest to understand "BRAIN TUMOR" a disease which took the life of late Chakufwa Chihana. Through this study period, I had tele-discussions with those in the know [medical people]who did not want to be mentioned. The purpose of this study was to put Chihanas Brain tumor in perspective.

The first point of my enquiry was to answer the question "what is brain tumor" This question was import because, I noted some confusion and misunderstandings about this disease. During this study, I also discovered that the question of brain tumor is even inconclusive among medical professionals themselves. It seems, contrary to what many of us believe ie that it may be stress related. no studies have concluded the causes of this disease.

This again contradicts UDF suggestions that Dr Wamutharika created an environment where Chakufwa contracted Brain tumor.This misguided conception was apparent in the young democrats songs which suggested thus"BINGU HAS KILLED CHAKUFWA" These twisted views from the UDF'Aford camp makes one wonder what happens in their boardrooms.Are they so cloistered and cosseted in their own version of "brain tumor" that they lost touch with reality outside their sealed world?

Given the nature of the illness a research was carried out in 1996 by a group of experts who looked into factors that might have an impact upon the prognosis for brain tumor sufferers. Despite a certain amount of disagreement, the group concluded that: The signs and symptoms of a growing tumor within the skull are mainly caused by a progressive rise in the internal pressure, either from the growing mass itself or from its interference with the normal circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid, which surrounds and permeates the brain. The tumor itself causes pressure inside the skull, which causes the symptoms.

These include:
Changes in mental function that may be subtle. They may include irritability, lethargy, indifference, apathy, forgetfulness, lack of insight, or drowsiness Severe, persistent headache Vomiting, which is sometimes sudden and for no apparent reason.
Dizziness Fits – either major seizures or local twitching Loss of part of the field of vision or loss of hearing Hallucinations Drowsiness Personality changes Abnormal and uncharacteristic behavior

I took an interest in the development of a tumor itself and was shocked to see these professionals coming to a conclusion that a tumor could take up to 4 years before becoming fully grown during which, sufferers may experience severe and unremitting symptoms for greater than four years.
It was at this point,that I realized that many of the criticisms Chihana received in fact occurred during his last four years.

Out of interest, I took note of the following symptoms: -Changes in mental function that may be subtle. -They may include irritability, lethargy, indifference, apathy, forgetfulness, lack of insight, or drowsiness -Severe, persistent headache -Abnormal and uncharacteristic behavior Here is where my heart sank low because on reflection, I noted that in principle,we may have been criticizing late chihana on what was pure mental illness. for example one of the symptom reads:" indifference, apathy, forgetfulness, lack of insight, or drowsiness" Case in point.

a)Chakufwa Chihana left government in 1996 there about citing rampant corruption by the Muluzi administration.We held him high but come 2003,he was at the centre of corruption-bribing fellow mps to support the third term bid.Without doubt,chihana lacked the insight and had already forgotten the very reasons he left government in 1996

b)Abnormal and uncharacteristic behavior When Chihana was appointed minister of agriculture, he was operating from Chombe motel and was driving to and from Chombe during his short stint in the Bingu administration despite the fact that he had a house in Lilongwe[are 43] and another one in Mzuzu[Chimaliro] Chombe motel was not in his constituency.This means that he was leaving his lilongwe house,driving past Mzuzu,then again past Rumphi central to chombe an area bordering Karonga.That alone was uncharacteristic.

c) during the first post Muluzi by-election, there was stiff competition between Aford and PPM Chakufwa conducted himself in a rather bizarre and abnormal way to the extent where he abandoned his campaign and started chasing hon.Aleke Banda and when he found him addressing a rally, he went straight to Aleke banda's platform and started dancing in front of AKB in the process causing some fracas.
This behavior alone was abnormal and uncharacteristic behavior

d)-Changes in mental function that may be subtle. Without knowing that the aford leader was sick,Aford faithful decided to suspend him from the party but when they reconvened to elect the interim committee,Chakufwa stormed the meeting with hired thugs who ended up beating those in attendance and later installed himself aford leader All who knew chihana during his normal days would never ever think of a chihana who could behave in this fashion. When Dr Mutharika was indicted by hon Milanzi, Chihana was seen dancing to his own song outside by some journalists.
According to them, there was no coloration between the song and his jovial mood because the song had words which went like "NYEMBA-NYEMBA-NYEMBA.IFE SITIDYA NYEMBA.NYEMBA TIDYA MAWA [beans-beans-beans.we don't eat beans.we will eat beans tomorrow]

As if that was not enough, Chakufwa threw a party at his house in area 43 while the speaker of parliament late Munyenyembe was fighting for his life at Kamuzu central hospital.Munyenyembe and Chihana were good friends and one would expect to see late chihana at his bed side but yet again this seems to another symptom of -Changes in mental function that may be subtle. As you can imagine, all these symptoms went undetected until 26th May when late chihana had -Severe, persistent headache.Unfortunately,it was too late and by this time,the tumor was fully grown.

Society failed to pick it,instead we condemned him, we criticized him and we abandoned him yet the guy was mentally sick. Gentlemen, I think we are all guilty,we ought all to plead guilty, but guilty as we may be,we need not to exculpate ourselves by throwing the blame on each other. Instead, I think we need to take some time reflecting and putting our lawmakers in perspective. I am not a medical man,but going through the symptoms again especially the part suggesting "Abnormal and uncharacteristic behavior" I am left speechless.

Let me put it clear here that Brain tumor is a complex condition which is not fully understood…Because of this, it is not possible to define concrete sets of favorable or unfavorable prognoses…in each case there can often be conflicting favorable and adverse factors interacting to determine the overall outcome."

However,this has not stopped me from taking a particular interest in the behavior of one parliamentarian for the simple reason that his information is largely available in the public domain I have been studying the recent behavior of hon Nga Ntafu as something that needs immediate attention.
All along,hon Ntafu has been known to be principled.Thus when the "anti northern" was adopted and effected as a policy in 1988,Ntafu was one of the few people who openly challenged Dr Banda. He was summoned to sanjika to explain his position in front of Dr Banda.He did it without fear or favor and Kamuzu had nothing to say.Noting that his mentor was severely challenged,late Malani Lungu humbly asked Dr Ntafu to apologize to Dr Banda and Dr Ntafu refused point blank

This stand landed him in prison and he remain unapologetic through out. When the UDF,came to power, hon Ntafu, was appointed minister and called for a swearing in ceremony.While others took turns taking oath with their hand against the bible in front of the president, Ntafu refused to take an oath with hand on the bible saying" I can only do that to an ordained minister and not politician" Dr Muluzi was shocked but accepted his position When he was minister of education,Dr Ntafu surprised Dr Muluzi again by shooting down Dr Muluzi's order to increase teacher's salaries calling it un procedural

.All over a sudden,hon Ntafu seem to have taken a complete turn over his high held morals and principles. Hon.Ntafu was now at the centre of chaos trying to stage a fight with a woman in parliament when all sane people thought the banking of government donations into personal account was irregular and unheard of,Ntafu was on the fore front justifying its stolen status by implicating Dr Wamutharika as one of the beneficiaries. To day, he thinks every one who disagrees with him has a small brain a thing you could never ever associate it with Nga Ntafu Only this week, I was shocked by revelations made by hon bande that he has evidence to the effect that Ntafu puffs hemp[chamba] When I heard this I said-

No.not Ntafu. I know Nga- Ntafu as a traditional seventh-day adventist believer.Smoking alone is prohibited according to the bible.But to be linked with chamba is an adventist's worst scenario. However,upon reviewing some materials on brain tumors, I was shocked to see that there may be some truth in the deputy ministers claim.The only problem could be that he may not be aware that chamba is considered as a medication to those with certain types of tumors. MARIJUANA MAY BLOCK FATAL BRAIN CANCER on 2nd March this year, a an american based research company came up with some interesting medication for brain tumors In a study of mice and rats with a brain tumor called malignant glioma, treatment with THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) or a man-made chemical with similar properties eradicated the tumor in almost a third of the animals, according to a report in the March issue of the journal Nature Medicine.

This was also reported in the Times Newspaper. The question is,what can we as a society do to understand those in positions of authority when they are acting under the influence of ailments? Should we retire them or continue to nurture them until they take leave of planet earth? While at that,lets not rush into conclusions which will end up sending all those with signs of ailments to their villages. The cases of late Chihana and Nga- Ntafu seem to reflect the negatives of taking alleged brain tumor patients with our honest seriousness when in fact these people are simply showing us signs of ailments.

You may not know this, but it seems, malawi's present state of affairs could also in fact resulted from a brain tumor oriented decision. As seen from brain tumor symptoms,- Changes in mental function that may be subtle and abnormal and uncharacteristic behavior are some of the major symptoms of brain tumors. This implies that the behavior of a person changes from his long established paten.During this period,he or she makes decisions which are uncharacteristic. In the history of Malawi, Dr Banda was known to be ruthless through out the sixties,seventies and eighties.During this time,there were attempts by the international community to press Dr Banda to change his style of politics to know avail.

The bloodiest years were the 80's thus we saw the killing of Dr Mpakati,Mwanza murder,arresting of intellectuals, regional deportation of the northerners,the massacre of Mkwapatira Mhango family. All over a sudden Dr Banda changed and softened his approach. This started in 1990 when he addressed the nation to condemn his own youth leaguers and later on bowed down to pressure by calling for a referendum. In all this there was uncharacteristic behavioral change on the part of Dr Banda. As a nation, we welcomed the change and held him as a true states man yet he was truly the onset of condition of brain tumor which was later discovered in 1993 and was operated on at Garden City.

What we thought was normal was infact a sign of ailment. We may have known Chakufwa Chihana for for only 14 years but he had an unprecedented impact on people since 1962. Whether we like it or not he was a rare breed of person who had the ability to transform fear into hope and engage anyone, from any background, in interesting conversation. It was not until now that after reading the ontology of Brain tumor that it has hit me hard how we as a society inhumanly reacted with tempers tantrums and emotions to what was an ailment.Chakufwa was well respected, well travelled and well-known.No doubt,if he were to be in his normal health, he would have continued to push for radical reforms and a market based democracy. Chakufwa was an inspired leader during the campaign for multiparty democracy and is rightly known to be the father of democracy in Malawi.

He had led the struggle for his country’s multiparty politics from dictatorship, and had confronted with vigour and vision the political challenges faced by Malawians a fact known by living undemocratic and repentant hon John Tembo Its very sad that we reacted angrily to what was an illness,something I will live to regreat. There ends the politics of brain tumor May his soul rest in peace

Bright Mac Everson Malopa references:
ISBN:malawitalk Clark, Orlo et al. (2003) Endocrine Tumours. American Cancer Society Atlas of Oncology series. Decker. ISBN: 1550091344 Bleiberg, Harry et al (eds) (1998) Management of colorectal cancer. London, Martin Dunitz. ISBN: 1853173770 Canellos, George et al (eds) (1998) The lymphomas. WB Saunders. ISBN: 0721650309 Biersack, HJ & Grunwald, F (eds) (2001) Thyroid cancer. Berlin, Springer. ISBN: 3540413901 Blake, Peter et al. (eds) (1998) Gynaecological oncology: a guide to clinical management. Oxford, Oxford University Press. ISBN: 0192627988 British Medical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. (2004) British national formulary (47th edition). London, Pharmaceutical Press. ISBN: 0853695849 Cavanagh, BM(2003) Nurse's manual of laboratory and diagnostic tests (4th edition). ISBN: 0803610556 Bleiberg, Harry et al. (2002) Colorectal Cancer. London, Martin Dunitz. ISBN: 185317808X Bonadonna, Gianni et al. (eds) (2001) Textbook of breast cancer: a clinical guide to therapy. (2nd edition) London, Martin Dunitz. ISBN: 1853178241 Chao, K .S. Clifford et al. (2002) Radiation oncology: management decisions (2nd edition) Philadelphia, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN: 0781732220 Cassidy, J et al. (2002) Oxford Handbook of Oncology. Oxford University Press ISBN: 0192630350


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Abel Chihana said...

Fair enough, we are all sick but can only be realize when its too late...having said all sorts of adjectives and comments about others. You're right Bright.