Malawi Martyrs' Day

Malawi Martyrs' Day

March 3
March 3 is celebrated each year as a national holiday in Malawi honoring the political heroes who gave their lives in the struggle against British colonialism. Malawians often attend church services on March 3 and offer prayers for departed freedom fighters. In addition, Radio Malawi plays tribute music to remember those martyred during the 1959 crisis in Central Africa.
For most of the 19th century, the African nation of Malawi (formerly called Nyasaland) was a British colony. Beginning in the early- to mid-20th century, however, the country's indigenous people began attempts to achieve independence from British rule. During the 1950s, Britain united Malawi with the Federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now known as Zambia and Zimbabwe), a venture that led to widespread resentment of colonial domination. In response, in an effort to attain independence, Malawians formed their own political parties and plotted violent retaliations and acts of sabotage. On March 3, 1959, British forces declared a state of emergency and orchestrated Operation Sunrise, arresting prominent Malawian nationalists and other dissidents. Fury over the arrests of these resistance leaders precipitated the deaths of more than 20 demonstrators. In total, 51 were killed, over 1,300 were detained, and many more were wounded during the state of emergency, which lasted until 1960.
CONTACTS:
Malawi Embassy
2408 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-797-1007
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