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‘John Chilembwe’s dream is dead’

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As Malawi commemorates one of its greatest sons, Reverend John Chilembwe, some commentators have said subsequent political leadership has failed to emulate the virtues and ideals that the fallen hero stood for.
Born in 1871, Chilembwe led the 1915 uprising against colonialism to attain equal rights for native blacks and promote the upholding of Christian values.
Chilembwe set the tone for Malawi’s freedom and independence which was fully realised in 1964 following the return of Malawi’s first president Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda.
Leader of pressure group Transformation Alliance, Moses Kunkuyu, said on Friday that Malawian leaders have not done enough in lighting Chilembwe’s candle since modern leaders are motivated by values different from those held by Chilembwe.
Kunkuyu said the man-of-the-collar stood and fought for a people and not his family or a particular tribe as is the case today.
“We are more into what is there for me as opposed to Chilembwe’s philosophy of what is there for us. If he rose from the grave today, he wouldn’t be happy to see what he believed in being discarded,” Kunkuyu said.
He bemoaned the rising culture of tribalism which has engulfed the country, arguing that Chilembwe’s cause was for a unified Malawi.
“We, as a county, need to deal with leadership deficiency and develop true leaders for the next generation; [leaders] who should promote unity and honesty,” Kunkuyu added.
Youth activist Wazamazama Katatu, who was leader of the students body at Mzuzu University, concurred with Kunkuyu, saying current leaders do not inspire confidence in the citizenry.
He said Malawi is faced with the challenge of neo-colonialism, which, he said, is a manifestation that Malawians are failing to honour the liberation struggles of people like Chilembwe.
“Young people have blocked the political spaces and, yet, they are the game changers. They are the innovative and creative minds that should be given the opportunity to incite change and liberate Malawi from the fragile hands of our aged leaders who have messed the vision of our fallen heroes like Chilembwe,” Katatu said.
Revamp Aford [Alliance for Democracy] Movement chairperson, Owen Mumba, said modern leaders have fared badly in upholding land rights for the people; a cause which, he said, was dear to Chilembwe’s heart.
But government spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi, said the Democratic Progressive Party administration is reliving Chilembwe’s legacy by promoting the spirit of integrity, entrepreneurship and hard work which he cherished the most.

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