When Ma-Joyce Banda was sworn is as President of Malawi earlier this April, it was indeed a moment of celebration, especially for for many us women across the world. She is the first female President in her country, the first in Southern Africa and only the second female President in Africa, following Ma-Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. Congratulations.
For many of us who have dedicated their lives to the struggle for gender equality; women’s rights and social justice, we did give a dance in our hearts. A genuine dance, because this was not just a fluke of fate!
This moment is also one of celebrating the women and men of Malawi for upholding the values and tenets of their national constitution. It is such moment when a nation and a people shapes their narrative and sets their standards not only to themselves but also to the leadership.
This singular action gave a widow of hope that another narrative is shaping on the Africa continent, showing that it is possible to have a peaceful transition of power, and such to a woman as well!
President Joyce Banda holds the office today by merit, and I salute her for her courage and determinations.
President Joyce Banda was constitutionally sworn into office, not as a political appointee but as one duly elected to the Presidency in 2009 by the people of Malawi. She had since been holding the office of Vice President of the nation. She holds the office today in the full knowledge and with confidence that she is an elected leader if it was so, the tone of celebrations could have been slightly different.
It is common knowledge that President Joyce Banda struggled and navigated the political terrain resulting in your formation of a political party. It was against all odds that she survived as a political leader despite the very cold and acrimonious political relationships with the late President Bingu wa Mutharika. She stood firm and negotiated her political space, holding on to her constitutional right and entitlements.
Her leadership at this moment demands both wisdom and courage as the people of Malawi seek a new narrative. Ma-Joyce Banda carries with her the aspirations of girls, young women, women, mothers, boys and men in their diversities who seek for recognition of their rights and strive for a life with opportunities, choices and dignity.
She remains a role model for many in her country, our region, on the continent and beyond.