Hastings Kamuzu Banda was President of Malawi from its independence in 1963 until stepping down for multiparty rule in 1994. His regime used spectacle and public works to represent and thus gain public support. Regular tours and speeches recounting his deeds could be disseminated throughout the country via radio, interpellating a diverse, dispersed audience into one imagined national community unified by his particular person. In this article, I analyze speeches, songs, and poems from a seven-day "Tenth Republic Anniversary Tour" to argue that they created a rhetorical understanding of the nation as uniquely linked to Banda's rule—an understanding that remains dominant in Malawi today. The regular rebroadcasting of political speeches and songs on the radio created a link between local communities across the nation. Building a performative understanding of nationhood, I argue that Banda's claims to national and political legitimacy built on and transformed community-defining performance traditions.


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pp. 55-71
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