Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera on Wednesday addressed the nation during the “ceremonial guard mounting” by Malawi Defence Force soldiers at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe observing Martyrs’ Day when the country honours political heroes who gave their lives in the struggle against British colonialism.
Dressed in black suit with white shirt and black tie, Chakwera who was accompanied by First Lady Monica Chakwera, Vice President Saulos Chilima and Minister of Tourism and culture Micheal Usi, among other top government officials, watched the soldiers parade.
In his address, the President said people in the country were determined to sacrifice their lives which have led to the freedoms being enjoyed today.
“The 3rd of March 1959 is a day that we do well to remember and reflect on. The uprising that unfolded around the country that day was not only significant as a matter of history, but also the pangs that harbingered the birth of Malawi five years later,” said Chakwera.
He said the uprising was but the harvest of seeds of liberation that had started germinating in the years immediately after 1891, when Britain established the British Central Africa Protectorate, which was renamed Nyasaland in 1907.
On March 3 1959, British forces declared a state of emergency and orchestrated Operation Sunrise, arresting prominent Malawian nationalists and other dissidents.
Fury over the arrests of these resistance leaders precipitated the deaths of more than 20 demonstrators. In total, 51 were killed, over 1 300 were detained, and many more were wounded during the state of emergency, which lasted until 1960.
Chakwera said a better way to honour the people’s sacrifice and resolve is to build the new Malawi they dreamed of and died for.
“It is not only a Malawi we inherited from the sacrifice of our forebears of yesterday, but a Malawi we owe to the promise of our children of tomorrow. ”
Chakwera, who quit the pulpit as president of Malawi Assemblies of God in 2013 to join frontline politics, used his signature closing remarks: “God bless you and God bless Malawi as you keep it the Warm Heart of Africa.”