Former President Peter Mutharika has hailed freedom fighter John Chilembwe for fighting systematic oppression but has said it is unfortunate that Malawians cannot gather together to honour their hero.
John Chilembwe Day is commemorated on January 15 but Government suspended commemoration event due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement on Facebook, Mutharika said it’s unfortunate that under the circumstances it has not been practical to physically gather together to pray and honor the hero.
Mutharika in his statement joined President Dr Lazarus Chakwera and all Malawians in commemorating, celebrating and honoring Reverend John Chilembwe for his heroism and resolve to fight for his people against chains of systematic oppression.
“The spirit and the tenacity this Malawi hero proved in the early days, to liberate his people, should in the present day give us the courage to face the challenges in our midst,” said Mutharika.
He added that people should hold hands by supporting all the vulnerable groups around in order to move together towards the goal of a healthy and prosperous future.
Chilembwe was born in 1871 and in 1915 he led the first uprising against white settlers and the British Protectorate of Nyasaland. Chilembwe was angered by the white settlers who used to force locals to work on the settlers’ estates without pay or food.
He was killed in the same year during the struggle. Chilembwe remains a symbol of liberation in Malawi and his face is on the country’s banknotes.
Journalist Ephraim Nyondo said in a Facebook post that Malawi commemorates Chilembwe today because he is the first Malawian who saw injustice against his people and chose to stand up and fight it.
“That spirit is what defines his legacy today—if you see injustice, stand up and fight it; it’s a powerful message,” said Nyondo.