Obituary: Dr Bonus Makanani

Adamson S. Muula

Editor-in-Chief, Malawi Medical Journal, Professor and Head, Department of Public Health, The Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS), Blantyre, Malawi Email address:

Malawi lost a clinical, educational and research giant in the death of Dr Bonus Makanani, who, at the time of his death on 10th July 2021, was an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Deputy Director of the College of Medicine-Johns Hopkins Research Project (JHP) at the Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS), formerly the College of Medicine and Kamuzu College of Nursing of the University of Malawi (UNIMA).

 Born 17th October in 1965, Bonus earned his Bachelor of Basic Medical Science and Clinical Medicine from the University of London, 1991, the same year that he and his compatriots, described by Late Professor Adelola Adeloye, as the “hybrid”1 medical students returned to Malawi. “Hybrid” students were the University of Malawi’s students who had completed part of their undergraduate medical education and training in the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa, before returning home to complete their MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degrees. 2-5 With his colleagues including Moffat Nyirenda, MacPherson Mallewa, Frank Taulo, Late George Kafulafula and Pascal Mkanda, the team returning from London started their final year (clinical) studies on 9th September 1991 in Blantyre, Malawi. The team graduated in 1992 at the Great Hall in Zomba, making it the first cohort of the University of Malawi medical graduates.

Following his 18 months’ medical internship and subsequent district posting as a District Health Officer (DHO), Bonus joined his alma mater, the College of Medicine as an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (O & G) in 1998. This was the time that Malawi had no residency programme for medical graduates in any of the clinical specialties. He consequently went to South Africa where he studied and practiced medicine resulting in his becoming Fellow of the College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (FCOG) of South Africa in 2002. He was subsequently appointed a substantive lecturer in 2003, and five years later (2008), Senior Lecturer. After another five years (2013), he rose to the rank of Associate Lecturer, a position he held until his sudden demise. Dr Makanani was not just an administrator, but also a leader, manager, and administrator. He was Deputy Head of O&G Department (Feb – June 2004), Dean of Students (June 2004 – Jan 2007), Deputy Director for Center for Reproductive Health at the College of Medicine in 2005, and again as Head of O&G Department in 2007, 2010, 2011. Bonus also served as the Deputy Director College of Medicine-JHP from 2019 up to the time of his death. Dr Makanani is survived by his wife, children, and parents.


  1. Adeloye A. The Malawi “hybrid” medical graduates (1992–1998). Malawi Medical J 2016, 28(3): 87-91
  2. Broadhead RL, Muula AS. Creating a medical school for Malawi: problems and achievements. BMJ. 2002 Aug 17;325(7360):384-7. doi: 10.1136/bmj.325.7360.384.PMID: 12183314  
  3. Broadhead RL, Muula AS. A Medical Curriculum for all seasons – a dialogue. Malawi Med J. 2001 Sep;13(3):6-10.PMID: 27528894 
  4. Broadhead RL, Muula AS. The Australian contribution towards medical training in Malawi. Malawi Med J. 2001 Sep;13(3):6-10.PMID: 27528894 
  5. Muula AS, Broadhead RL.The first decade of the Malawi College of Medicine: a critical appraisal. Trop Med Int Health. 2001 Feb;6(2):155-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3156.2001.00673.x.

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