President Peter Mutharika conspicously missed from the annual high profile commemoration of martyr Reverend John Chilembwe, an aggressive young freedom fighter killed by white colonialists 101 years ago.
Mutharika was represented at the function in Chiradzulu at Providence Industrial Mission, the headquarters of Chilembwe uprising by Finance minister Goodall Gondwe who is also vice president for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party for the north.
It is not yet known why Mutharika failed to attend the church service in memory of Chilembwe whose uprising inspired many to rise against the white oppression.
Vice president Saulos Chilima was also not in attendance.
However, the service was attended by cabinet ministers Henry Mussa, Joseph Mwanamvekha and Grace Chiumia and former president Bakili Muluzi.
The theme of the commemoration was rise and shine and preachers read from the Book of Isiaih.
PIM president Reverend Patrick Makondetsa delivered a moving sermon, challenging Malawians to commit themselves to progress, thereby bringing the country to light.
Rev Makondetsa read from the book of Isaiah 60:1-3 and John 8:12 and titled his sermon ‘Arise and Shine as a Nation’in which he called for unity of purpose among Malawians, and respect for leadersas well as citizenry to be hard working just as Chilembwe in order to develop Malawi.
“ I look at you, I must not say I am looking at a Christian or a Muslim; I must not say that am looking at a Tumbuka, Lhomwe or Yao, we must look at each other as Malawians, we must all rise and shine to develop this country,!” he said.
“We may not like the President [Peter Mutharika] as a person, but God has put him in that position, and we must respect the presidency. In the same way, God has given us Dr Lazarus Chakwera as leader of opposition, let us respect whatever he say because it is God that has out him there,” he said attracting ululation.
Finance Minister Gondwe admitted that Malawi is facing huge challenges, he said: “The question is, why are we not developed? That is the question that people like John Chilembwe would be posing to us. Why if we have so many people, so many things around us, why don’t we have the confidence that we can do it?
“Success will depend upon us deciding to succeed . There is darkness at the moment, and as the President [Makondetsa] has promised, there will light at the end of the tunnel, and I am absolutely confident that Malawi shall succeed.”
Prior to the church service, government and church officials laid wreaths at the memorial pillar which has names of those who died with Chilembwe in the haste and disorganised uprising in 1915 but had a positive bearing of subsquent uprisings that finally toppled the white colonial rule.
Also missing at the service this year was Leader of opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera, speaker Richard Msowoya and United Democratic Front president Atupele Muluzi who had their names on the list of official guests at the function.
In 2015, a dozen presidential candidates graced the occasion.
Outside PIM, life was normal except for the mid January holiday with usual power black outs in some areas and dry water taps in other areas.
To the new generation, Chilembwe is becoming more irrelevant to them and the absence of high profile personalities at the service can testify this fear.
Born in 1871, Chilembwe attended Virginia Theological Seminary and College in the United States of America (USA) and returned to Malawi around 1901 (after being ordained as a Baptist minister) to establish the Providence Industrial Mission (PIM) in Chiradzulu district.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :