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Health | Society

Malawi mourns 1st Lady

afrol News, 29 May - The death of Ethel Mutharika, the wife to President Bingu wa Mutharika has thrown Malawi into a state of mourning. The First Lady responded to the call of God at the newly-built state house in the capital Lilongwe on Monday.

A news dispatch from the President’s office reported that the death occurred in the afternoon. While it is yet to announce the date of a state funeral for Mrs Mutharika, Malawian government has declared a month-long period of mourning in the country.

Already, thousands of mourners have started flocking state house to pay their last respects to Mrs Mutharika whose lifeless remains are expected to be flown to the northern region city of Mzuzu before being finally laid in state in Blantyre, the commercial capital.

Malawian government described the death of Madam Mutharika as a “deep sorrow and a great sense of loss.”

"She closed her eyes peacefully today this afternoon, Monday 28th May 2007. A dark cloud has fallen over the state house and the nation.”

The sad news, which is the first of its kind in Malawi’s history, has already left its mark of devastation on the government, concurred Chikumbutso Mtumodzi, a presidential press officer, who confirms the reeling of sadness among every Malawian.

“Everyone is wearing gloomy faces. It is a very trying moment because people are calling from all over the world to give us moral support,” Mtumodzi told local press.

The Malawian parliamentarians indefinitely put off their budget session taking place at the new state house following the news of the death.

Louis Chimango, the Speaker of Parliament, who divulged the news to the deputies, adjourned the house proceedings until further notice.

When rumours of Mrs Mutharika’s critical sickness started filling the air in March, the government quickly came on its toes to defend the story through releasing a news dispatch countering that the First Lady had undergone a minor surgery abroad. Her special medical treatment unavailable in the country, the release said, took her to South Africa and France.

Mrs Mutharika was the product of Malawi and Zimbabwe. Born to a Malawian medical assistant in Zimbabwe and a Zimbabwean mother, Madam Mutharika has been married to President Mutharika for 37 years. They had four children and several grand children.

Though gone for ever, Ethel Mutharika will continue to be remembered for being a respectable voice for underprivileged and marginalised girl children and the elderly. She had created Ethel Mutharika Foundation purposely to better the lives of girls and the elderly.

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