Joyce Banda: Joins an Exclusive Club That’s Hopefullly Setting a New Trend in Africa

| April 10, 2012

When Malawi’s sitting president, Bingu wa Mutharika, died suddenly on Thursday, April 5, it was only natural that his successor would become his replacement. But, Malawians probably never imagined the day would come when their female vice president, Joyce Banda, would actually get to step into that role. It was merely ceremonial. Protocol.”Constitutional.”

Well, it did indeed happen, and on Saturday, April 7, Joyce Banda was sworn in as the nation’s new president to become the first female president of Malawi, and the second female president on the continent of Africa. According to the Malawi constitution, the vice president is to take over leadership of the country in case the president dies or becomes indisposed. What makes her new role even more significant and historic is the fact that both female presidents (Ellen Sirleaf Johnson – who congratulated, welcomed and offered her some pieces of wisdom – and Joyce Banda) are currently in power.

The transition of power was said to be a peaceful one, despite some objections from government ministers. It is also reported to have inspired many Malawians to become hopeful for their economic futures. Many Malawians blamed Bingu wa Mutharika for the country’s economic woes.

President Mutharika died of a sudden cardiac arrest and it was unclear in the beginning whether Joyce Banda would step in as president, considering that the two had experienced a political drift in recent years. Joyce Banda, 61, left Mutharika’s political party to form her own party although she remained the country’s vice president.

Her new role brings renewed hope to the nation’s long overlooked demographic – women and children. We, at Afrikan Goddess, have our finger’s crossed on that front. Over the years, we have lamented the role of Africa’s women politicians and how they fail to effect much in the way of change for Africa’s women and children. As first ladies, their powers are limited. As vice presidents, it is still somewhat limited. As presidents, however, they have no excuse for overlooking the needs of their own. Joyce Banda is said to be a “lifelong campaigner for women’s rights and better education in Malawi.” She has dedicated her entire political career towards organizing rural women, in Malawi and beyond. She pushed women up and gave them the voice they needed when there was no one there to hear them. She was that voice that demanded equal access to education, equal access to jobs, land, better healthcare services.

In her time as Mnister of Gender, Child Welfare and Community Services – where she started her political career in 2004 – she focused on addressing domestic violence. She has since started women’s organizations and actively supported many women’s movements.In 2006, she became the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. In 2009, she was elected vice president.

The similarities between her life story and that of Liberia’s sitting female president are very hard to overlook. At the age of 21, Joyce Banda married and had three children. Her husband was a tyrant and very abusive. When Joyce Banda finally left the marriage with her children, she worked tirelessly to end domestic violence and to transform the lives of women and their image both in Malawi and beyond. She has been fighting this fight for over forty years. The birth of her fourth child almost cost her her life. That was when she became a vocal advocate for better health services and better access to such services, especially for rural women.

Joyce Banda, nonetheless has a very difficult task ahead. She is now leader (at least until 2014 when the next scheduled elections take place) of one of the world’s poorest countries. Both men, women and children are going to need to see change. We wish her all the best in her new role and congratulate her as well. We hope she will make a difference and leave a rather impressive legacy.

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AFRIKAN GODDESS MAGAZINE is a subsidiary of Afrikan Goddess Media, LLC. Our content is designed with the educated, professional, classy, charming and sassy African woman in mind. We encourage women to express their creativity and ideas through writing, and also serve as a platform for meaningful discussions and exchange of ideas.

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