Chilembwe Day

Chilembwe (John) Day

January 15
John Chilembwe Day is a national holiday celebrated annually on January 15 (some sources state January 17) in the southeast-African country of Malawi. Reverend John Chilembwe was born in the 1860s in the African nation of Nyasaland, now known as Malawi. A Baptist minister, he spent considerable time abroad in America, where he was exposed to the radical abolitionist thought of John Brown and Booker T. Washington. Returning to Africa, Chilembwe opened a series of schools. Dismayed by the treatment of local peoples at the hands of plantation owners, whom he charged with racism and exploitation, he and a group of 200 followers staged an uprising. They attacked plantations and killed three white staff members along with several African workers. When the revolt failed to gain popular support, Chilembwe tried to flee to neighboring Mozambique. He and a group of his followers were caught and killed on February 3, 1915.
John Chilembwe is now memorialized as a hero for African independence and resistance to colonialism and is celebrated in modern Malawi, which attained its independence in 1964. His image on a Malawi banknote attests to his enduring popularity as a national figure and a symbol of Malawi freedom and patriotism.
Malawi Embassy
2408 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
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In Malawi he is celebrated as a hero, and January 15 is observed each year as John Chilembwe Day.