Shemu Joyah’s John Chilembwe film still in pipeline


Veteran filmmaker Shemu Joyah said on Monday his dream of shooting John Chilembwe film is still intact despite the mission delaying for years.

His remarks came as Malawians remembered the country’s freedom fighter on January 15, which is Chilembwe Day.

Joyah maintained that the script for the film, which he has kept on refining, is there and that what remains are funds to start shooting.


“This is a huge historical film we do not want to compromise; we need all the resources to produce quality work; something that will give people the history of John Chilembwe. Over the years, we have tried to reach out to various players for funding but things have not worked out,” the award-winning filmmaker said.

The maker of films such as The Last Fishing Boat and Road to Sunrise said he wanted to engage the corporate world for support.

“There are still some, who do not understand as to why we want to make this movie and why we need more money. So, I am looking at reaching out to the corporate world and, on top of that, I want to shoot two scenes that we can use for marketing purposes,” Joyah said.


He said he will fasten the process of shooting the two scenes although it would also need money but it was for a good cause, in terms of progressing with the film.

“The total figure of what we need is huge, looking at the nature of the film. Things keep on changing; so, we need more than K500 million but this figure is not even enough if it were being shot by players outside the country,” Joyah said.

He said Malawi has a rich history which needs to be documented through movies and Chilembwe’s film is part of telling his story.

“It is sad that there are some people on social media who continue to speak ill of John Chilembwe and that he did nothing but there is a lot that he did for the country. Some of the things that we see today in different sectors were initiated by Chilembwe,” the filmmaker said.

If successful in telling Chilembwe’s story through a movie, Joyah would add up to other artworks including the Chilembwe radio play which many Malawians have followed for years.

Late Mjura Mkandawire also shared Chilembwe’s story by composing a song which has become an anthem on January 15. There are also other artists, like the late Vic Marley, who composed the song telling the story of Chilembwe titled ‘Ida.’

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