We need independence celebrations [Part one]

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For the first time in the history of an independent Malawi, the government will not be leading people in celebrating the usual July 6 independence celebrations.

Instead, there will only be national prayers. The reason behind this decision is that government says it wants to save money.

We all know how we struggled as a nation to get our independence. The British had colonized us for over six decades.

The British colonial government was led into Malawi, then Nyasaland, by the Christian missionaries. It established their rule across Malawi. Although it faced resistance from Chiefs M’mbelwa, Mwase, Mponda, Chikumbu, Makanjira and Gomani, it brutally crushed them down.

Malawi Independence Day Celebrations

No Malawi Independence Day Celebrations this year. (File)

Nearly a decade later Rev. John Chilembwe led what is famously known as the 1915 uprising, the first of its kind in Malawi and Africa. He was not satisfied with how the British chose to involve the Black people in WWI and also the Thangata system, where people would work for free in the farms and estates of the White man. He unsuccessfully led an armed uprising which ended up with him being killed in Mulanje, as he was about to cross into Mozambique.

After this event, the beginning of the Native Associations was another attempt we made towards fighting the colonial government. The first of these were the North Nyasa Native Association, formed in 1912 and the West Nyasa Native Association, formed in 1914. These were formed for three reasons: First, to have the colonial government know the African opinion, second, to have the Africans know the laws introduced by the government, and last, to provide a platform where Africans could discuss their general and special interest.

It was on this existing platform that the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC) was formed in 1944. Its formation can be credited to the Representative committee of the North Nyasa Native Association. The people had grown conscious of the need for political independence, a spirit that was present in other African countries as well. Some people, under NAC, later renamed to Malawi Congress Party (MCP), started actively discussing ways of how they can achieve this. It was from these discussions that it was decided that Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda be called back to lead the movement.

Thus he came on July 6, 1958 to fight for independence and challenge the imposed federation of Nyasaland and Rhodesia. The direct consequences of fighting the White colonial establishment were deaths of common people across the country, especially when a state of emergency was declared in March 1959, and the imprisonment of the leading political leaders like Dr. Banda himself, Orton Chirwa, Aleke Banda and Masauko Chipembere.

Space cannot be enough to expand on the brutality that happened then. But the people fought hard together with their leaders to end British rule that had dominated affairs in almost half of the world. Equipped with, probably, the best political minds, leaders and generation ever, independence became a reality on July 6, 1964 when Malawi became a republic and Dr. Banda as its first President under the MCP.

What happened for the next three decades after that is entirely another history. But when talking about our independence, the period that is much reflected on is between May, 1891 and July, 1964. This is the journey that can be described as ‘From Protectorate to Independence’. What characterized this period was a people who were willing to fight for their country and a British government that was ready to use any force to maintain its grip on power.

Lives were lost. These people were not doing it for their immediate benefit. They looked at the large picture, the independent Malawi. Thus in their present skull and bones state, in both marked and unmarked graves, in spirit, they are still with us. Our duty is to make sure that as they look down upon us, they should see our greatest use of their blood and flesh sacrifice they willingly gave.

But the Malawi story has greatly been shaped by other powerful political forces. A good example is the Cold War, the ideological fight between the USA and the USSR after WWII. The government of Dr. Banda was caught and shaped by it. His open anti-communist rhetoric made him friends with the West. Despite his poor human rights record, they continued providing him with financial, military and political support until December 1989, when the Cold War came to an end with the fall of the symbolic Berlin Wall.

Dr. Banda and his government had lost its relevance and were abandoned by its former allies. The exposure it had to endure after this led to it being defeated in the pro-multiparty democracy referendum in June 1993 and subsequently the first multiparty general elections a year later, May 1994. But the story of independence does not end there. Actually, its relevancy would start being questioned even more. [End of part one]

About the writer: Wonderful Mkhutche is a speech writer, a political scientist and a manuscript editor and developer.

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94 Comments

  1. No, we don’t need ‘independence celebrations’, we need to start understanding what independence means … and that means paying our own way through life. We need to start producing enough food to feed the people; we need to stop deforestation; we need to develop industries where we can actually earn forex; we need to drastically reduce the civil service wage bill and start living within our means; we need to start educating our children – truly educating them to take their role in the future of the nation, not just teaching them to recite facts, parrot fashion; we need to stop relying on donors for continual handouts; we need to regain our pride and stop treating our country like one enormous litter bin; we need to start taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions. What we really don’t need are expensive ‘independence celebrations’, the country coming to a standstill whilst the President’s ridiculously bloated convoys drive past, MPs who get paid a salary and then insist on being also paid an ‘attendance allowance’ whether or not they bother to attend parliament, ghost workers, thieves who steal our (donor given) drugs, people who kill albinos because of stupid outdated superstitions ….. I could go on and on – but what we really don’t need are ‘independence celebrations’ because we are by no means independent.

  2. Kamuzu akuyamikilidwa chifukwa anaduwa peter nawe ukaduwa athu ndipamene azaziwe zomwe umafuna iye sananane kuti akuseva ndalama koma amati tilipephelele dziko LA Malawi kuti mulungu atipase zelu zoti athanilane ndivuto laxachuma ,winawe ungogundika ndikutukwa unabadwa kuchokela kwa muthu kapena galu ,mukumuweluza muthu pazolakwa zake ndiye ukukatukwanaso mulungu akuvelani?peter 2019 boma

  3. Ndalilira Malawi; ndakhulupilira kti sitinafike pa ufulu ozilamulira cifukwa kufika dzaka 52 kunena kuti boma lilibe ndalama loti tikondwere mzinthu zacisoni kwambiri; inde paliponse pamakhala kti pali 6July kma monga ana akamodzi zimakoma tikakumana pamodzi mkukondedwera cifukwa olo zaka zapitazo ukamalowa pagate yaku stadium kulandira juice n ban zimakhala zinthu zonyadisa kwambiri, kuteleco olo akanangoti apange masewero ampira okha ndim,mene zinthu zikuvutilamu anthu akanakondwelabe; enafe tinaziwa 6july kamba kti timkatengedwa kupita kumalo ameneaja… Nanga asilikali tizingowaona pa mademo nanga nanga poti mpira uliwonse umakhala olipira zomwe amphawife sitingakwanise; mchifukwa pena pake Bakili amkangotiuza kti walipira stadium tikawonere mpira ulelele kaya zimakhala ndalama zathu zomwe kmabe sitimadanda poti timakaonelanso ndife tomwe..

  4. No independence celebrations is a very good idea , nothing wrong . President Mogufuli of Tanzania did the same last year to serve money spent on these mediocre celebrations where only a few enjoy these so called celebrations. We are independent , the British left , we have the freedom, the country & celebrations for what? We dont need these celebrations, we need money in our pockets not singing & dancing and ending up with no food at home.. Thumbs up Mr President for coming up with this idea though borrowed from Mogufuli. You are maturing into a leader of the people. Our economy is in shambles prayers will at least change the face of the country. BRAVO.

  5. this is first time for me since I waz born here in malawi to suspend independence celebrations,izi ndi nkhanza zazikulu ndipo ndakwiya nazo kwambiri,ndalama zake ziti palibezo munthu ndi chinyama chofunika kusangAlalacho ndiye mukuti chani makaPe,tinthana celebrations ngosayamba olo tili m’maluzi ponderezani nthawi yanu,ife timafuna mpira wa ulere pa stadium all other presidents were doing that za mAluzi mpaka lero kutikhumatitsa chonchi taonera inu tachivomereza komabe aaaaaaaaaah

  6. Malawi kuchuluka zoyankhula, akanangopangaso zisangalalozo mukanamva, anthu tili ndi njala ndiye nkumapangaso ma phwando mmalo mothesa njala ayamba za 6 July,, ndiye mumafuna boma lizipanga chani

  7. I like it guys, going the Tanzanian Magufuli way. Let’s go out & sweep our streets clean, instead of burning Millions of Kwachas for a mere Independence Celebrations. Is this the last 6th July to come???? And how does a poor Malawian in the village benefits frm the so called Celebrations? Isn’t it jst the Platform Decorators & the Chitenje Printers who gets paid at the of the day?

  8. teachers r on strike, there r shortage of drugs in public hospitals so why celebrating while we have problems which needs the same money to be ended

  9. You cant celebrate on an empty stomach if u do its like aslap into the face of poor Malawians ,we dont need this celebrations cos it means nothing to ahungry nation

  10. To them who need but what i know is,its just to remember the day if you do not have it has gone like that.to me i know it and its not my first time so no need to force some one to do for you its your own like what you need it amen.

  11. Nkanakondwa achikhala ndalamazo akumaseva for service delivery km vuto ndalama zomwe akuti akufuna kusevazo ndizoti adzagawana akuluakulu okha! It does nt make any difference @ all! Nchimodzimodzi kuchita transfer mphunzitsi wa nkhanza from Ndata primary xul to Nankhundi primary xul! Mwangosamutsa vuto osati mwathana ndi prblm. Apapa angochepetsa namba ya a2 odya nawo ndalamazo sikuti aseva ndalama

  12. We have reached a critical condition where by a serious doctor is required. A situation which Malawi has never experienced, only shows that our country is at a stand still. Palibe chimene chikuyenda I really think Kamuzu was better off .

  13. Which means this guy is wiser than all our previous president’s including# Kamuzu? because every year we celebrate this day and what happened now he wants to put this money into his pocket? good decision to pray for those who lost their lives at that time but we celebrate their souls.

  14. Ndi bwino President uyo akanakhala kunyumba osapita panja coz iyeyo alandilaso ma alawance coz ayenda kupita Kumsokhano, akut aku saver chuma palibe chomwe a saver, why they lie to the pipo Mr President try to do the right thing, like Bingu did were u sit today, God bless Malawi

  15. Kupemphera? Kut Mulungu awathandize kupondereza osauka powabera ndalama1, kuwamana mankhwala muzipatala2, kuwawumbuza ndi misonkho yazaoneni kwinaku katundu akukwera tsiku ndi tsiku. Tsoka amphawi, shaaaaaa!

  16. Kupemphera? Kut Mulungu awathandize kupondereza osauka powabera ndalama1, kuwana mankhwala muzipatala2, kuwawumbuza ndi misonkho yazaoneni kwinaku katundu akukwera tsiku ndi tsiku. Tsoka amphawi, shaaaaaa!

  17. Kupemphera? Kut Mulungu awathandize kupondereza osauka powabera ndalama1, kuwamana mankhwala muzipatala2, kuwawumbuza ndi misonkho yazaoneni kwinaku katundu akukwera tsiku ndi tsiku. Tsoka amphawi, shaaaaaa!

  18. Or mupange or musapange. I dont c the difference. How can we celebrate independence while we depend on donors. The word independence means kudziimira paife tokha popanda kudalila anthu ane kapena maiko ena. Malawi tikudalira chithandizo chochokera kumaiko ena and u want to use that help careless. That money must be used on better thing than zopanda pake.

  19. is true Malawi celebrate 4th anivesalry independent 2years from late prof Bingu and 2years to prof peter no any donar help Malawi why government fail

  20. is true Malawi celebrate 4th anivesalry independent 2years from late prof Bingu and 2years to prof peter no any donar help Malawi why government fail

  21. But the same govt can take more than 100ple to the UNGA. Why not starting saving by then. This is a lame excuse this time around. I don’t buy this shit. With or without celebrations the money will be pocketed.

  22. Vuto lovotera alendotu ndilimeneri they don’t care about our heritage, 6 July is gone until mpaka mu Malawi weni weni azalowetso boma. Abale tasanduka mbuli tonse

  23. Those of you saying we want to save money and at the same time we don’t have money UNLESS you tell me that pple will not receive allowances for attending the prayers otherwise I don’t agree with you.

  24. wat kind of celebration do u need?ku BICC kulia pemphero and thats enough….a malawi tisiye kukhala moyo wachizolowezi kuti basi mupata ku stadium ndiye kuti independence things are changing…those prayers are of grrat importance rather than kukaonela magule ku stadium

  25. How com Govt failling to fund this most important day in Malawi? This is the waist regime ever as far as history is concened. What we must’nt understand is that they busy making DPP rallies. Where do they get such money for that? Believe me there is a secret game being played here and citizens will always be hopeless on their govt.