Malawians are on national holiday today the 15th of January which is Chilembwe Day. The day was specifically set aside for the country to celebrate the life and martyrdom of Reverend John Chilembwe.
In observing Chilembwe Day, the nation, also holds prayer 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.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful, Rev, Dr Lazarous Chakwera, the former president of Assemblies of God church in Malawi, strongly believes he is walking in the footsteps of Chilembwe fighting for a good cause for the nation.
“I found it pleasing that today I am walking in the footsteps of John Chilembwe. He was not only a pastor, but just like me, he saw the need that people of this country should be free. This was the task that was fulfilled by Ngwazi Hastings Kamuzu Banda,” said Chakwera when he visited the home of the martyer.
However, Chakwera said he wants to fight so that he can get Malawi “out of the hands of thieves.”
He said: “ Kamuzu destroyed the stupid federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. But I have come to destroy the stupid federation of thieves.
“We fought against colonialism. We fought against federation. MCP is now back to fight against the atrocities of the last two decades.”
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.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :