On this day July 6, 1966

Hastings Banda became the first president of Malawi, exactly two years after the country was granted independence from the United Kingdom.

Malawi adopted a new constitution on July 6, 1966, in which the country was declared a republic. Banda was elected the country’s first president for a five-year term; he was the only candidate. The new document granted Banda wide executive and legislative powers, and also formally made the MCP the only legal party.

However, the country had been a de facto one-party state since independence. In 1970, a congress of the MCP declared Banda its president for life. In 1971, the legislature declared Banda President for Life of Malawi as well.

His official title was His Excellency the Life President of the Republic of Malaŵi, Ngwazi Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda. The title Ngwazi means “chief of chiefs” (more literally, “great lion”, or, some would say, “conqueror”) in Chicheŵa.

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