Two prominent civil rights activists have told Malawians to stand up against oppression as the nation on Friday commemorates John Chilembwe Day.
Timothy Mtambo, executive director of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Gift Trapence of Centre for Development (Cedep) said this in a joint statement.
The two rights activists said Malawians can best celebrate the life of Chilembwe by drawing lessons on his freedom fighting prowess.
“We should reflect on his struggle. He had to mobilise people to fight the barbaric leadership at that time, the colonists,” say Mtambo and Trapence.
They say this is the time for Malawians to take stock of the leadership of the country whether it is taking Malawi forward or not.
“There have been a lot of effort to suffocate freedoms, a lot of resistance to freedom to demonstrate…our leaders should give space to its citizens propagandas will not help,” say Mtambo and Trapence.
The activits state that whenever there is abuse of power by the country’s leadership, the citizens have tended to wait for the CSOs leaders to speak up or even demonstrate for them.
“This is disappointing. Little wonder, government has taken advantage of the citizens’ docility to wage a war of propaganda against civil rights activists”, observes Mtambo and Trapence, Executive Directors for CHRR and CEDEP respectively.
CHRR and CEDEP further observed that there have also been some few instances where the civil and political space has observably been hijacked by some opportunists and populists who just want to ride on the shoulders of concerned Malawians to achieve their ends.
“It’s sad to observe that while some CSOs leaders are exposing the ills of Malawi’s public systems in good faith, others have found taking on government as a safety valve to their individual failures and frustrations. These are the people who are spoiling the civil and political space, and in the process, eroding public trust in the civil society movement.
“Most regrettably, the enjoyment of civil and political rights today is also being held back by an unprecedented magnitude of government propaganda against demonstrations in the country. In worst scenarios, we have seen government sponsoring protests to quell the anti-government protests. Thus, Chilembwe Day should offer the nation an opportunity to reflect on the challenges facing the civil and political space today. Together we can”, said the CHRR and CEDEP statement.
Chilembwe is touted as the first ever Malawian to stand up against the white rule.
He organised a dozen men, store arms from an armoury in Mandala, Blantyre and killed a white tea planter but his disorganised, hurried up and unprepared revolt in 1915 was quicklly brought down.
Chilembwe is believed to have been killled by the colonial forces either in Mulanje or Mozambique but his body was not recovered.
His rise against whites however was an inspiration to other Malawians like Kamuzu Banda who succesfully brought independence to Malawi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :