Banda, Hastings Kamuzu [key], 1902?–97, African political leader, president of Malawi (1966–94). A son of peasants, he received a medical degree in the United States and after World War II established a practice in London, where his office became a meeting place for exiled African leaders. He returned to Africa (1953), then to his homeland, Nyasaland (1958), to campaign against the federation of Nyasaland with Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe and Zambia). In 1961 Banda's Malawi Congress party won a sweeping election victory. Nyasaland, which he led as prime minister, became independent as Malawi in 1964. Under a new constitution, Banda became president in 1966. Increasingly autocratic, he made himself president for life in 1971, the year he became the first African leader to visit South Africa. Opponents were routinely jailed and some killed, while Banda lived in luxury. Following antigovernment rioting and suspension of Western aid in 1992, Banda was forced to abandon one-party rule and the life presidency in 1993. In democratic elections held in 1994, he was defeated by Bakili Muluzi. In 1995 Banda was acquitted of charges in the 1983 assassination of four political opponents.
See biographies by P. Short (1974) and T. D. Williams (1978).
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