Friday, January 15, 2010

Malawi commemorates Chilembwe Day

The late Reverend John Chilembwe's face is now found on all of Malawi's local currency including the highest denomination of MK500.

By Lucy Liponda

Today, the 15th of January is Chilembwe Day. The day was specifically set aside for the country to celebrate the life and martyrdom of Reverend John Chilembwe.

Following the setting aside of this day, Malawians go on a national holiday.

In observing Chilembwe Day, the nation, also holds prayers led by Chilembwe’s own found Christian church, the Providence Industrial Mission (PIM).

Apart from observing a national holiday in honour of Malawi’s early freedom fighter, John Chilembwe also has his face on the local currency, the Malawi Kwacha.

According to information gathered by Malawi Digest, John Chilembwe started plotting to rise against the then Nyasaland Government in or around 1914 from his headquarters in the southern region mountainous district of Chiradzulu.

Although some spies had sent to the Nyasaland Government information that Chilembwe was plotting a rise against the government, the former British colonial masters failed to find tangible evidence to prove these allegations against Chilembwe.

After receiving this information, the colonial masters then through the office of District Commissioner in Chiradzulu opened every letter addressed to John Chilembwe but still they failed to see any tresses of the said uprising.

Chilembwe had long been complaining to government about people living on European estates who were forced to work without pay (thangata).

He challenged the colonial masters to stop oppressing the locals.

He made several efforts to rise against the Nyasaland government and all this came to a climax on 23 January, 1915 when he led a war against in the colonists.

Chilembwe staged the uprising when he led a group of about 200 followers in attacking local plantations that he considered too oppressive for the local man.

The freedom fighter and his team also killed several male Europeans working on these plantations.

However, the uprising failed to gain enough local support a development that forced John Chilembwe to flee the country before he was killed on 3rd February, 1915.

In fact many Malawians believe that John Chilembwe’s courageous acts and rebellion against the white rule acted as a springboard for people like Malawi’s first President the late Hastings Kamuzu Banda and his others to continue the fight and successful freed Malawi from the colonial rule.

John Chilembwe, is founder of the Providence Industrial Church whose headquarters is Chiradzulu, southern Malawi-Malawi Digest.

1 comment:

  1. John Chilembwe sacraficed a lot and I think that it is great that he is remembered by the locals and put on Malawi's money.

    Author at Cellulean