Steve Matenje is the second-born child of Hon Dick Matenje, one of the Mwanza Four who were assassinated on 18 May 1983.
Among the most memorable moments Steve Matenje can recall about his father, was in 1980 when he (Steve) was graduating from the University of Malawi with a law degree. His father Hon. Dick Matenje bought him a suit and wristwatch for the graduation ceremony held at Chancellor College in Zomba.
Soon after the graduation ceremony, Hon Dick Matenje took Steve and family members to Ku Chawe Inn on the Zomba plateau for a party at which some of his (Dick Matenje) friends and colleagues in the ruling party and government joined. At this point in time, Hon Dick Matenje had been Minister of Education since 5th July 1978.
Another moment I can never forget about my father is when he bought his first car in 1962. He was a teacher then. This car was a Saloon car called Hillman Minx registration No: BA 3365. It was red in colour. We were all excited as a family. And of course, I cant forget the joy and happiness that engulfed us the kids of Dick Matenje and the entire family in 1969 when we went to Chileka Airport to welcome him from Canada where he had gone in 1964 to study for a Bachelor of Arts degree. You know, it had been 5 years without seeing him. We all screamed and jumped the moment we caught a glimpse of him disembarking from the VC-10 aircraft, Steve Matenje further reminisced.
Steve Matenje last saw his father in September 1982 when he (Steve) had visited him to bid him farewell just before leaving for England to do a two-year postgraduate study in Public International Law at the University College of London.
It was 8 months later that his father Hon. Dick Matenje was assassinated while he (Steve) was in London. What was most painful to Steve Matenje was that due to the hasty funeral arrangements under the instigation of the one-party state, he failed to travel back to Malawi to attend the funeral.
What was more saddening was that at the same time, he also lost a cousin by the name of Thom Mpagaja who died in a road accident as he and others were returning from attending the burial of Hon Dick Matenje. So for the Matenje family, it was a double blow that they had two funerals in the family within a week.
Steve Matenje was psychologically devastated so much that in October 1983, he decided to withdraw from his studies after completing one year and returned to Malawi to be with his family.
After the assassination of the Mwanza Four, amidst the tense political atmosphere, I took the risk to return to Malawi just to be with the family. I could not continue studying under the trauma that I could not cope with and being away from home alone, you know. I really needed a break. Luckily enough, the British Council which was sponsoring my studies understood my situation and accepted my request to withdraw temporarily from the studies, Steve Matenje lamented. He went back to London to continue his studies in 1987and returned to Malawi in 1988 after completing the studies.
However, when he returned to Malawi in October 1983 (after temporarily withdrawing from the studies), he was detained for almost two hours at Chileka Airport upon arrival. The security authorities thoroughly searched his personal effects and interrogated him. A radio cassette player that he had brought from London was confiscated for examination. It was returned to him a few days later.
Though he later resumed his duties at the Ministry of Justice upon his return from London in October 1983, he always had a sense that he was under surveillance by state security.
His wife (then a fiancée) was in the Netherlands for a 6-month training at the time the Mwanza Four were assassinated. Upon her arrival back to Malawi in June 1983, state security officials also subjected her to intense interrogation in relation to her close interactions with members of the Matenje family.
TO BE CONTINUED