Hastings Kamuzu Banda , (born c. 1898, near Kasungu, British Central Africa Protectorate [now Malawi]—died Nov. 25, 1997, Johannesburg, S.Af.), first president of Malawi (formerly Nyasaland) and the principal leader of the Malawi nationalist movement. He governed Malawi from 1963 to 1994, combining totalitarian political controls with conservative economic policies.
Banda’s birthday was officially given as May 14, 1906, but he was believed to have been born before the turn of the century. He was the son of subsistence farmers and received his earliest education in a mission school. After working in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa, in 1925 he went to the United States, where he received a B.A. (1931) and a medical degree (1937) at the University of Chicago and Meharry Medical College in Tennessee, respectively. In order to achieve the qualifications needed to practice in the British Empire, Banda then continued his studies at the University of Edinburgh (1941) and subsequently practiced in northern England and London from 1945 to 1953.
Banda first became involved in his homeland’s politics in the late 1940s, when white settlers in the region demanded the federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland. Banda and others in Nyasaland strongly objected to this extension of white dominance, but the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was nevertheless established in 1953. In 1953–58 Banda practiced medicine in Ghana, but from 1956 he was under increasing pressure from Nyasa nationalists to return; he finally did so, to a tumultuous welcome, in 1958. As president of the Nyasaland African Congress, he toured the country making antifederation speeches, and the colonial government held him partly responsible for increasing African resentment and disturbances. In March 1959 a state of emergency was declared, and he was imprisoned by the British colonial authorities. He was released in April 1960, and a few months later he accepted British constitutional proposals granting Africans in Nyasaland a majority in