Malawian bloggers join the rest of the nation in sending sincere condolences to the State President on the loss of First Lady Madamme Ethel Mutharika, who passed away Monday 28 May, 2007. Her death is a big blow to Malawi as a nation. The burial is scheduled for Saturday 9 June at the president's Ndatha Farm in Thyolo, Southern Malawi.
Mlauzi, who blogs on Afrika Aphukira, says the First Lady was charitable and will be greatly missed:
Mrs. Mutharika founded the Ethel Mutharika Foundation that was helping poor Malawians and orphaned children, an important intervention at a critical time for Malawi just recovering from severe food shortages, and still reeling from HIV/AIDS. She will be sorely missed. May your soul rest in peace, Mde First Lady.
Kondwani Munthali, who covered the state president's functions several times and was once a master of ceremonies, describes his personal encounters with the First Couple:
I knew Madame Ethel Mutharika just like many ordinary Malawians did. … Though she never directly participated in politics. Later, we saw her in Area 18 at her relations and funerals and various church events. Just like her husband Bingu, Malawi's First Lady was a dedicated Christian. She was a woman of faith, strong one for that matter. In her pain and suffering, she smiled, reached out to her women empowerment projects, did her farming…
Yet she smiled and her family opted to spare Malawians that pain and remained strong in discharging their duties. President Bingu wa Mutharika has carried his own family burden and that of the State without affecting the other. In many cases he sacrificed the love of his life for the burderns of the State.
As I became privileged to cover the President, the more I realised how the President relied on the first lady.
One day at a public event, as a Master of Ceremony, I stood up to stop a particular group dancing, the President nodded in agreement, the First Lady disagreed as the crowds were cheering…
In a post titled Malawi in a state of mourning, another Malawian blogger, Clement Nthambazale, prays for the president:
I wish the president divine strength and that the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard his heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
While Cryton Chikoko in UK goes a bit controversial in his prayers as he offers his sympathies to the president:
As the saying goes, “behind any successful man there is a woman” I wish Mutharika the divine strength not only to bear the loss of his longtime wife but also not to slacken from his good agenda of developing the country.
Zikomo Friday also extends condolences to the president Bingu wa Mutharika. And a senior journalist Joe Mlenga visited the home district of the president this week on an assignment. In a post describing the impressive district hospital there, he devotes some space to imagining the pain in the president's life at the loss of his wife.
I can only imagine how President Bingu wa Mutharika is feeling at this hour, having lost his wife of over 40 years, Ethel. I feel for the man, for I have lost family members, relations and very close friends. At that hour the world seems upside down and it sometimes takes years for one to heal inside. Ethel Mutharika was a dignified lady, quiet and really fit the mould of First Lady. I pray that Bingu will face the loss with courage and not feel all is lost. Otherwise he may withdraw from normal life and Malawi will as a nation be affected gravely. God is on your side Bingu, carry on, and may the Lord Jehovah grant you peace.
Peter Jere, a Malawian theologian based in South Africa, commends several opposition politicians for being available and supporting Mutharika at this trying time. He further contends that the death of Mrs Mutharika has united Malawians and expresses the wish that this could be genuine and permananent change:
Some have suggested that this whole unity prevailing in our country now is temporal (God forbid!). They are saying that these politicians are behaving like this now because they too are married men and know that it’s not a game or zamasewera when mkazi (wife) dies pakhomo (in the home). They know that mawa (tomorrow) it may be themselves going through the same painful experience hence a need for them to behave now. They probably have realized that maliro (death) sees no tribe, colour, status, richness but just invade your home and leaves you heart broken.
And finally Ndagha wishes that there is calm and peace as this is first time in Malawi to have a funeral for a First Lady.