Hastings Kamuzu Banda (15 February 1898 – 25 November 1997) was the prime minister and later president of Malawi from 1964 to 1994 (for the first year of his rule as it achieved independence in 1964, Malawi was the British protectorate of Nyasaland). In 1966, the country became a republic and he became president.
After receiving much of his education in ethnography, linguistics, history, and medicine overseas, Banda returned to his home country (then British Nyasaland) to speak against colonialism and advocate independence. He was formally appointed prime minister of Nyasaland and led the country to independence. Two years later he proclaimed Malawi a republic with himself as president. He consolidated power and later declared Malawi a one-party state under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). In 1970, the MCP made him the party's President for Life. In 1971, he became President for Life of Malawi itself.
As a leader of anti-communism in Africa he received support from the Western Bloc during the Cold War. He generally supported women's rights, improved the country's infrastructure and maintained a good educational system relative to other African countries but also presided over one of the most repressive regimes in Africa. His totalitarian government regularly tortured and murdered political opponents. Human rights groups estimate that at least 6,000 people were killed, tortured and jailed without trial. As many as 18,000 people were killed during his rule according to one estimate. He received criticism for maintaining full diplomatic relations with apartheid-era South Africa.
By 1993 he was facing international pressure and widespread protest. A referendum ended the one-party system and a special assembly ended his life-term presidency, stripping him of most of his powers. Banda ran for president in the democratic elections which followed and was defeated. He died in South Africa on 25 November 1997.