Rose Chiwambo (Chibambo) – Malawi

(Seems the following statement concerns ‘our’ Rose Chiwambo, Malawi: … ‘last night they spelt veteran politician Rose Chibambo’s name as Chiwambo. Any editor worth his or her salt would know that is incorrect … Austin Madinga, Malawi, Oct. 9, 2007, on his blog … ‘.

This is correct: there are texts about Rose Chibambo in the internet).

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

Rose Chiwambo (77) was born in Kafukule in Mzimba District. She is the first Malawian woman to hold a cabinet post. She was appointed Deputy Minister of Community and Social Development in 1963 after winning the Mzimba South seat. She began mobilizing Malawian women in 1952 into a political force. She fled the country in 1964 following a cabinet crisis. She stayed in exile for 30 years, until her return in 1993 at the advent of multi-party politics. She is now settled in Mzuzu doing charity work, concentrating on HIV/Aids prevention.

She says: “I don’t believe in putting children in orphanages. You alienate them from the protective environment of the family. Giving orphans some sense of hope is worth every energy and time”.

She says also: “It’s pathetic, especially here in Mzuzu where traditional practices worsen the irresponsible ‘city life. People need education on the impact of HIV and AIDS. Behavioral change must be seriously addressed because closing down the dozens of ‘rest houses’ is not a solution. Alongside promiscuity, there are traditional practices including circumcision, polygamy, ear-piercing and tattooing, widow inheritance, forced marriages that must be tackled”.


Sorry, I can not find any photo of Rose Chiwambo (Chibambo), Malawi in the internet.

She works for Church Action Relief Development Card.

When Mzuzu town, the only major town in the northern region of Malawi, was raised from town to city status in 1985, northerners thought it a big joke. In hushed voices, away from strangers, they quipped that their president had a sense of humor. “How can a town with a population of 50,000 with only one-storey buildings and a main street of 300 meters of tarmac be a city!” they asked. The ‘Dead North’ as the region was described in the colonial era, changed very little during Banda’s rule. Twenty years into independence, little had changed, except for a Chinese-built referral hospital and a university.

With the advent of pluralism in 1994 and liberalized trade, Mzuzu’s population was transformed. The opening of the ‘Northern Corridor’ – a modern tarmac road that connects the country to the important port of Dar es Salaam on the Indian Ocean in Tanzania, has seen Mzuzu become an important transit city. Huge trucks, laden with goods rumble through it day and night headed to and fro the capital city, Blantyre, 200 miles south. Tanzanians and other regional citizens trade cheap goods and wares from Dar es Salaam along the border for retailing in Mzuzu.

Entrepreneurs from Blantyre, Lilongwe and other towns converge in Mzuzu to buy goods that from clothes, hardware to cosmetics. The market square is called ‘Taifa Market’ so dubbed due to the hundreds of Tanzanian women who trade here. Taifa means nation in Tanzania’s national language, Kiswahili. The economic boom, however, has brought its vices. There are no official statistics, but the high prevalence on HIV and AIDS is attributed to the city’s prosperity. Like other parts of Malawi, HIV/AIDS has wrought havoc in communities, leaving behind thousands of destitute orphans, widows, widowers and old people.

Unfortunately, the family’s breadwinner is usually the victim.

Mrs. Rose Chiwambo, a one time prominent politician, dedicates all her energy and time towards charity work, fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Malawi is listed by the United Nations as one of the poorest countries in the world with 90% of its population living below the poverty line. HIV and AIDS has dealt a further blow to a this nation already grappling with absolute poverty.

Mrs. Chiwambo feels the media has not helped. She feels they have remained unresponsive, despite the power they possess.

Mrs. Chiwambo became Malawi’s first woman cabinet minister when the country attained independence in 1964. She was Deputy Minister of Community and Social Development and MP for Mzimba South. She explains that she saw the power of the media during her stint in politics.

“It was short-lived,” she says with a laugh, digressing slightly. “I think I was only minister for six months before my husband and I fled following the cabinet crisis in 1964. We did not see our four children for 30 years. Banda’s politics of tribalism was propagated through the media.”

“Right now my organization, Church Action Relief Development (Card), under its Tovwirane Orphan Care program, is catering for over 200 orphans and the list grows bigger everyday as more people continue to die.” The organization has initiated income-generating programs for the orphans’ guardians including farming and animal husbandry. “The care-givers and heads of families are able to care for the extended families. With HIV/AIDS and poverty, families are crippled, left desperate.”

At 77, her determination is admirable. She is an active member of Christian Service Committee, Malawi Council of Churches and Interdenominational Support Group for Prisoners.

Funding for the programs has been achieved through rigorous advocacy and accountability. “We solicit funds from donors both locally and abroad, but mostly from Britain and USA. We have built our reputation, but it’s not easy. It’s hard grinding work. Sometimes you ask yourself ‘why I’m doing all this?’ But there are people in dire need. You have to help.”

She ponders for a moment, “giving orphans some sense of hope is personally gratifying. It’s worth every energy and time”. (1000peacewomen).


The book Women Writing Africa, Volume 3: The Eastern Region;

Nyasa Times: I smell corruption;

Kamuzu’s Mbumba: Malawi Women’s Embeddedness to Culture in the Face of International Political Pressure and Internal Legal Change, Summer 2002;


the book: Revolt of the Ministers, The Malawi Cabinet Crisis 1964-1965, Page 157. The book on amazon;



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