College of Medicine Yesterday

We were interviewed by a team from Ministry of Health (MOH) at Chancellor College.  The plan was to send students to study in the United Kingdom while the medical school was being built. The students were going to come back to Malawi to do their clinical attachments and the final examination. Eventually the students would be fully trained in Malawi. The British Government was supporting the project. Prior to this, Malawian doctors were trained in the United Kingdom. The down side was that most of them did not come back to Malawi after their training.

We were briefed by the British Council about life in the United Kingdom and the culture.

We went to the Immigration Department to have our passports processed. The process was done in no time


I was very excited but at the same time apprehensive about going to study in the United Kingdom. Our outward flight was from Lilongwe to Heathrow in London via Nairobi.  There were 13 of us. It was reassuring to see familiar faces from Kamuzu Academy and Chancellor College where I had previously studied. We were told that some of us would proceed to Scotland while others would study in London.


So, on 4 October 1986, I boarded a plane for the first time and had my first scary moment. When the plane was taxiing, it suddenly decelerated very hard and stopped at the end of the runway. We were told that there was a fault, and we would leave later after it had been rectified.

We eventually left and had an uneventful flight to Nairobi. We had to spend a night in Nairobi, so we were booked in a very nice hotel. The following day in the evening, we left for Heathrow on a KLM flight. We landed at Heathrow and those of us proceeding to Scotland boarded a ‘shuttle’ to Scotland. We landed in Edinburgh and went on to catch a train and then a hired bus to St Andrews. We were warmly welcomed at University of Saint Andrews by the staff and students who had volunteered to orientate new students. The students who went to University of St Andrews were:


Felix Namboya

McPherson Mallewa

Kelita Nyamali

Mary Katenga

Lyson Chimsuku

Frank Taulo

Winfred Phiri

Martin Maida

Wanangwa Nyirenda

Felix Kauye

Charles Dzamalala

Lester Bandawe



The students who went to London were:


Peter Gayo Munthali

Pascal Mkanda

Leslie Phiri

Pius Masache

George Kafulafula

Moffat Nyirenda

Bonus Makananil

Edward Mtitimila


We had a great time in St Andrews. We worked hard and partied hard. The king of partying was definitely Felix Kauye. We were visited by several high ranking party officials including His Excellency the Life President Ngwazi Dr H. Kamuzu Banda.We discovered that along haggis there were also plenty of Fionas. The staff at St Andrews were very supportive. At the end of three years, we got our Bachelor of Science (Medical Science) degrees. It was time to go back to Malawi to continue the training. But the school was not ready, so we started our clinical attachments in various hospitals in London. We spent two years in London before we came back for the final year.


The school was temporarily housed in one of the blocks at Chichiri Secondary School. This included administration, accommodation and dining hall. We shared the Polytechnic of Malawi Library. There were lots of trips to Mangochi for community health teaching. Our first principal, who was actually titled ‘Executive Dean’ was Professor Dhalenburg. The first registrar was Mr Tausi O’dala. We eventually graduated and were employed by Ministry of Health as interns at P8 grade. Then the reality began!