Credit: Inno Chanza-Malawian Historian based in United Kingdom
Malawi received her independence on 6th July 1964. The efforts that led to her freedom was equally and collectively initiated by Malawians of different races and ethnicities.
Last week on 3rd March 2020,Malawi held her Martyrs day.
Malawi Martyrs’ Day. 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.
There are a lot of people who are not well celebrated or known being part of the struggle.
Today,we shall get to know some of them.
Historical facts below were shared by Historian Chanza
The First Martyrs of Nyasaland: The 7 Indian Platoons who died for Nyasaland [1891 – 95.]
Harry Johnstone brought slavery to and end in Nyasaland in 1890s, using 200 Indian soldiers who were the first Indians to come to Malawi and helped create the country you proudly call Malawi, setting its boundaries and defeating all Yao Slave Trading Chiefs, Mlozi Jumbe et al.
A lot of the Indian soldiers died in Karonga fighting Mlozi from 1891 to 1895. Their graves are there. Alot died in Mangochi fighting Makanjira and other Yao Chiefs,, their grave are also there together with Captain Maguire.
Fort Mangochi and Fort Maguire were built by the Sikh soldiers.
The Indian Soldiers built the Fort Lister in Phalombe and Fort Anderson Mulanje, where they fought Matapwiri, Chikumbu and others ending slave trade there. Their graves are also there.
The Sikh Indian Soldiers under Captain Maguire created and trained the 1st and 2nd Nyasaland Kings African Rifles which was dominated by the Tonga in 1890s.
One lad was busy arguing ,,, why cant I see Indians in Malawi Police, Army, or doctors in hospitals, or teachers or in our villages???
Well, for starters, the Malawi army was actually created by the Indians. After serving Nyasaland for almost 10 years fighting,, the government allowed them to settle for liberating your grand mothers from slavery.
For a Lawyer, Abdul Sattar Sacranie,, goes into Nyasaland history as one of the first Nyasaland lawyers and politicians alongside Orton Chirwa. Sacranie was also a Mayor of Blantyre in 1960s.
Indians built most of the trading centres in Nyasaland where they were living in the rural areas until Dr Banda was ill advised to evict them from the rural areas in 1974.
Research has shown that Urban population spiked when Indians were moved to Urban areas as their native trading partners in rural areas followed the to towns and became street vendors creating slums like Mbayani, Ntopwa etc.
For Schools, Osman Adam built schools in Limbe while CK Dharap built Dharap now called Namiwawa Primary school, Osmani Gani built Gani primary school in 1940s in Zomba now called Mponda.
For Doctors, F.O Kidy, Jagot, Bhojan, Gatrad and others served the country diligently.
Recently someone said Tom Mpinganjira was the first Malawian to open a commercial bank, well, the first Malawian to open a commercial bank was Hitesh Anadkat in 1995. His father NG Anadkat operated a Hardware wholesale next to Phekani Building in Blantyre.
Doing a research in Thyolo, most of the relatives of my father who are Lomwe admitted that they found the Indians already in Malawi whey they were moving into Malawi from Mocambique.
Chinakanaka Trading centre in Mulanje was actually named after an Indian who was giving sugar lumps to his customers.
All the dilapidated old shops at Number 1, Ntambanyama Molere, Masambanjati in Thyolo were Indian Shops who left when Dr Banda made that insane decision.
One elderly man admitted that it was easier in the rural ares then to buy things as there were Indian wholesalers who supplied small traders with merchandise,,, sometimes on loan.
Perhaps, we need to stop characterising people with the attitude of,,,
‘one size fits all as in the army’