The late President of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika, will be laid to rest Monday in his home district next to his first wife, and former first lady Ethel.
Mutharika ruled Malawi from 2004 until his death in April this year following a heart attack.
Four African presidents have arrived in the Malawian commercial capital, Blantyre, for the burial. They include Namibia’s Hipikepunye Pohamba, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Kenya’s Mwai Kibaki, and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu said Malawians will give their late president a dignified burial.
“We intend to give our former head of state a very dignified burial. For the past three weeks, we have had the body in all the regions of the country where people have had the opportunity to pay their last respects. And, today is when we are having the burial. We have a number of foreign dignitaries, heads of state,” he said.
Kunkuyu said Malawi’s new president, Joyce Banda, who had been critical of Mutharika and was expelled from the ruling party, has been leading the national mourning period.
He said Malawians are united when it comes to honoring their former president in death.
“As you may be aware, it is the president who is leading the nation in the whole mourning period of our former head of state, Professor Bingu wa Mutharika. So, that is indicative that there is nothing like dissenting or having differences during a funeral,” Kunkuyu said.
The government has produced a “funeral cloth” costing about $126,000 to be distributed to mourners during the late president’s funeral.
Kunkuyu said the cloth shows uniformity among Malawians during their time of grief.
“We have to honor the departed leader, and we have to show uniformity in sorrow, and the only way of showing that we are together is to have that kind of uniform clothing,” he said.