Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Malawi 10 Kwancha F 1997
Front: John Chilembwe, Bank logo, Fishermen in Boat
Back: Girls in Education

Reverend John Chilembwe (1871 – February 3, 1915) was an orthodox Baptist educator and an early figure in resistance to colonialism in Nyasaland, now Malawi. Today John Chilembwe is celebrated as a hero for independence, and John Chilembwe Day is observed annually on January 15 in Malawi. In 1913 a famine caused hardship, and people from Mozambique moved to Nyasaland. Chilembwe was upset by the way his parishioners and the refugees were exploited by plantation owners. Workers were denied wages, and beaten. William Jervis Livingstone, a plantation owner, burned down rural churches and schools established by Chilembwe. Chilembwe also was affected by the conscription of local men to fight for Britain in Tanzania against the Germans in World War I, for no immediately foreseeable benefit to Africans. He complained of racism and exploitation. On January 23, 1915 Chilembwe staged an uprising: he and 200 followers attacked local plantations that they considered to be oppressing African workers. Chilembwe's plan involved the killing of all male Europeans. They killed three white plantation staff, including Livingstone, whom they beheaded in front of his wife and small daughter. Several African workers were also killed, but they did not harm any women or children on orders of Chilembwe. When the uprising failed to gain local support, Chilembwe tried to flee to Mozambique; however he was killed by officials on February 3, 1915. Although Chilembwe had sent letters to neighboring Zomba and Ncheu encouraging them to organize uprisings at the same time his word did not arrive in time. When his letters did finally arrive on Monday, January 25 the authorities already knew of the plot and the hastily coordinated uprisings failed to accomplish much. The colonial officials also killed a number of his followers. Chief among the victims of these reprisals were the 175 Africans listed on the uprising's "War Roll" and the 1,160 names on the list of Baptised Believers.

Infor mation Obtained From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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