APM hails John Chilembwe: He was a progressive thinker

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President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has described Reverend John Chilembwe as a progressive thinker who loved Malawi.

Mutharika and the Firstlady bowing in respect after laying a wreath on Chilembwe memorial piller Mutharika and the Firstlady bowing in respect after laying a wreath on Chilembwe memorial piller

President Mutharika said this at Providence Industrial Mission (PIM) in Chiradzulu on Monday when he attended the memorial service of worship for Chilembwe who led the first ever uprise against colonialists.

The Malawi leader said John Chilembwe’s place in the country’s history was non-negotiable as he was the first African to build schools for Africans on top of becoming the first African to fight for the rights of women and children.

“Chilembwe believed in empowering women as the foundation of society. That is why his wife Ida, had a vocational school for training women in skills.

“Chilembwe was a hard worker. He founded this Industrial Mission because he believed that Africans must be industrious in order to be self-dependent. Let us be industrious.

Chilembwe is a man who dedicated his life to the service of God. In serving others, we serve God. And we serve God by serving others.

“In serving others, Chilembwe was a progressive thinker who fought for transformation of this society. He fought to change the life of his people,” said President Mutharika.

He added that in honour of his spirit, that was why his government decided to construct a technical college.

“The construction has started and it is at window level. This college will be called the Ida Chilembwe Technical College.

“This college is part of technical community colleges we are building all over the country. Chilembwe saw the vision of community colleges 100 years ago. He wanted a technical college, and now his vision has been fulfilled,” he said.

In his sermon, president of the African Baptist Assembly (ABA) of the PIM Reverend Patrick Makondesa appealed to Malawians to do away with the spirit of pulling each other down saying Malawi stands a better chance of progressing if people work together.

Makondesa further hailed President Mutharika for living up to his promise of constructing the PIM Road as well as the Ida Chilembwe Technical College.

During the service, President Mutharika read the scriptures from the Book of Romans 12 verses 1 and 2.

Before the service, Mutharika, the First Lady Gertrude Mutharika, Vice President Saulos Chilima and other top government officials laid wreaths on the Chilembwe Memorial pillar.

Reverend John Chilembwe was born on February 3, 1871 died in 1915. He was a Baptist pastor and educator, who trained as a minister in the United States, returning to Malawi, then Nyasaland in 1901.

He was an early figure in the resistance to colonialism in Malawi, opposing both the treatment of Africans working in agriculture on European-owned plantations and the colonial government's failure to promote the social and political advancement of Africans.

Soon after the outbreak of the First World War, Chilembwe organised an unsuccessful uprising against colonial rule. Today, Chilembwe is celebrated as a hero of independence, and John Chilembwe Day is observed annually on January 15 in Malawi.

This year, John Chilembwe Day was being commemorated under the theme: ‘Embracing God for national transformation’

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