Chakufwa Chihana

Exile, imprisonment, and torture failed to stop Chakufwa Chihana from pursuing his dream of democracy and workers’ rights in Malawi. He began his activism when he was promoted to Secretary-General of the 4,000-strong Commercial General Union; at the time, Chihana was just 21.

A longtime critic of Kamuza Banda’s three-decade dictatorial rule of his nation, he led the Malawi’s first underground political movement, which pressed Mr. Banda to call for a referendum on political pluralism.

In 1992, upon returning home after years of exile, he was promptly arrested, charged with sedition, and jailed. Chihana was released on June 13, 1994, the day before Malawians overwhelmingly voted for a multi-party political system.

Chihana was the founder and leader of the political movement Alliance for Democracy, which became one of Malawi’s three major political parties. He was a presidential candidate in the 1994 elections and served as vice president under President Bakili Muluzi from 1994 to 1996 and again from 2003 to 2004. Chihana passed away in 2006.