Friday, 3 August 2012

The Kasiyamaliro, consoler of souls

The Kasiyamaliro is the Great Mother of Gule Wamkulu and probably the most important Nyau. It is said to be the principle Nyau, symbolizing the mother ancestor. Serving as the consoler of souls and of transition, it is almost omnipresent at every performance such as Chewa initiations thus signifying its importance.  And it is of ancient origins such that Zaire cave paintings dating back 992 C.E have depicted the Kasiyamaliro.

The Kasiyamaliro is an ancestral spirit, an antelope of pure and ancient origins. It’s said to have arisen from the pure, white serene waters of the deep underground pool from which the Chewa spirits come from, the depths of the world.  Beneath the belly which it shuffles on is the abyss of the world, the womb of the Great ancestral Mother and the grave. 

Its name means 'to leave the funeral' and it plays an important role at the completion of the funeral ceremony as it accompanies the dead to the grave. It may dance around the house or be taken into it and this is believed to absorb the spirit of the deceased. It channels the deceased member into the ancestral spirit world with aid of the mask. Its horns and dramatic arches of its back emphasize is duality, its Ying and Yang function. The spirit embodies qualities of angelic and demonic entities, the womb and the tomb, life and death.

One similar ancient deity would be the Egyptian icon of Anubis. Though portrayed as a Jackal, he had a similar role as the Kasiyamaliro. He had a funeral role as well as protection of the deceased for their journey into the afterlife. He was also guardian of the scales of balance, the similar Ying Yang role.

The Kasiyamaliro is portrayed as an antelope, probably impala, kudu or eland. It may be up to 2 meters high with a trough in the middle of its back often covered in dried woven maize husks, these mask forms are the first to appear in performances to remember the deceased, as a sign that the deceased have now joined the sprits and ancestors. Similar to the way the boy is born into the womb of this ancient antelope, the deceased will similarly be reborn during the luminal period which follows death, led by the same spirit that gave birth to him.

The Kasiyamaliro is burned after returning from the grave, and its smoke that disappears into the air signifies that the deceased has crossed the realms and become an ancestral spirit.

Friday, 27 July 2012

A Dark and Bloodstained Past, Slavery in Malawi

"To overdraw its evils is a simple impossibility ... We passed a slave woman shot or stabbed through the body and lying on the path. Onlookers said an Arab who passed early that morning had done it in anger at losing the price he had given for her, because she was unable to walk any longer. We passed a woman tied by the neck to a tree and dead ... We came upon a man dead from starvation ... ‘’ – David Livingstone

When we hear about slavery most people think about the Atlantic slave trade, but it goes beyond that as it affected all parts of the world. Even within Africa several nations such as the Ashanti of Ghana and the Yoruba of Nigeria were involved in slave-trading. Many countries including the peaceful landlocked country of Malawi were also subjected to the practice. Slavery, is the state of being bound in servitude as the property of a slaveholder and is often associated with toiling under harsh condition, being unappreciated, being subjected to torture and death. Some of the horrific things have already been described by David Livingstone. There were multiple routes within Malawi and they acted as a channel to the east coast of Africa. Some people are unaware of the practice and what happened exactly happened in Malawi and I hope this will shed some light. And as you will see, nations such as the Yao of Malawi were not so different from the Ashanti or the Yoruba.

Slave trade was introduced in Malawi by the Swahili-Arab traders in the 19th Century following a great demand for ivory and slave in the East African markets of Zanzibar, Kilwa, Mombasa and Quelimane. The Swahili -Arabs travelled further and further into the landlocked counties of Africa that we know today including Malawi to obtain slaves and ivory. Malawi was an important and crucial area of operations for Arab slave traders as it provided a slave trade route to the east coast but the incursions of slaving took a heavy toll on the inhabitants. But with entrance of the Yao tribes which have said to come from the Mozambique and East Africa into the southern part of present day Malawi they proved to be a catalyst of the slave trade. The Yao’s had been converted to Islam by the Arabs and were allies to the Swahili-Arab traders and they were well-armed and facilitated the trade. Yao’s moved north killing, tormenting and capturing the Chewa and Maganja by the hundreds, tribes that had migrated from present day Congo because of war and disease seeking peace now only to find chaos yet again. Countless multitudes died on the forced march that often took as long as three months to reach the coast of East Africa. The tragic path finally reached the edge of the Indian Ocean and the hapless slaves were put aboard ships destined for Zanzibar. Here the conditions were so cruel that records show where a cargo of 300 could easily be reduced to only 20 or 30 reaching port.

The main Slave Route in Malawi, were Nkhotakota, Karonga, Mangochi and Phalombe where the Swahili-Arabs and their Yao allies built their headquarters. They organized expeditions to capture slaves and thousands were said to have died in the night raids by the Omani raiders. Some of the coastal trading centres on Lake Malawi became infamous as slave trading centres and these routes were the major and crucial terminal of the Slaves in the entire of Central Africa going to the East African Coast Markets of Zanzibar, Kilwa, Mombasa and Quelimane. Zanzibar, under Omani Arabs in the 19th century had as many as 50,000 slaves passing through the city each year.

One of Slave Trade Route was Nkhotakota where one of the Swahili-Arab slave traders, Salim-bin Abdullah , also known as Jumbe, a Zanzibar trader of mixed Arab and African Descent set up his headquarters on the shore of Lake Malawi in the 1840s. From here he organized his expeditions to obtain slaves and ship them across the lake to East African markets. The captives were kept until they number 1000 and taken across the lake and then forced to walk for three to four month journey to Kilwa where they were sold. And by the 1850s, Nkhotakota had become the main terminus from which as many as 20,000 slaves annually were shipped across the lake from present-day Malawi to the Indian Ocean port of Kilwa Kivinje.

In 1861, Livingstone became possibly the first European to reach Nkhotakota, and he described the area as ‘abode of lawlessness and bloodshed…literally strewed with human bones and putrid bodies’. Livingstone returned to Nkhotakota in September 1863, hoping to convince the incumbent Jumbe ruler to abandon the trade in slaves. Though the two men engaged in a lengthy meeting, Livingstone’s efforts were in vain, and slave trade out of Nkhotakota continued into the 1890s, when Commissioner Harry Johnston persuaded the ageing Jumbe to sign a treaty in exchange for British protection. However, the treaty did not last long as Jumbe continued with slave trade. It was up until Nyasaland came under the British protectorate in 1891 that slave trade completely came to cease. It was Sir Harry Johnston who was the first Commissioner in Nyasaland Protectorate who made a significant effort to stop the trade. Sir Harry Johnston with a force of Sikh soldiers attacked Jumbe in 1894. He was tried and banished to Zanzibar.

Another Slave Route was at Karonga where Mlozi, another Swahili-Arab, settled and terrorized the Nkhonde people and seized them as slaves to Zanzibar. He organized surprise raids as far as Chitipa and Zambia. He also employed a number of the Swahili from Tanzania who undertook such expeditions. He, however, came into conflict with African Lakes Company, formed by Scottish businessmen and brothers, John and Fredrick Moir in 1878. It was until Sir Harry Johnston yet again who sent soldiers and defeated Mlozi who was tried by the Nkhonde chiefs and hanged.

Another Slave trade route passed through the southern shores of Lake Malawi into Tete Province and Zambezi valley in Mozambique. Here the controllers of the route were the Mangochi Yao chiefs namely Mponda, Jalasi and Makanjira. The other slave trade route passed through the southern highlands and was also controlled by the Yao chiefs. Nyezerera and Mkanda controlled the sub route passing between Mulanje Mountain and Michesi Hill in what is now Phalombe District. Two other Yao chiefs controlled the sub route passing through the southern part of Mulanje Mountain and these were Chikumbu and Matipwiri.

Fighting ensued in 1887–89, and pacification was completed only some years after the British government had annexed the whole of the territory in 1891. Almost all the Yao chiefs stopped Slave trade after being defeated by the British Colonial Government forces led by Sir Harry Johnston. After the defeat, the Colonial Government erected forts along the slave routes to check slave trafficking and to bring peace in the area. Some of the forts are still intact up to date.

Slavery has been a great topic even up to today, not only because of its ethics but also because of it massive effect and implications that still linger on. Countless Malawians were affected then and even in a dark and bloodstained past, the fallen ought to be remembered.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Great Dance, Gule Wamkulu

The Gule Wamkulu (Great Dance) is a dance cherished and sacred to the hearts of the Chewa people of Malawi. It is a symbolic, religious masked dance performed by the Nyau society at various occasions such as funerals, weddings, installation of traditional chiefs and authority, initiations as well as ceremonies of local or national proportion.

Nyau is the presence of the dead, an encounter with a spirit and so it is associated with fear and ritual dread.  There are a variety of masks symbolizing different spirits or aspects of life such as fertility or death.  And the dance is seen as a gateway that transverses the realms of the present and that of the ancestors and spirits, once forming the cosmology or indigenous religion of the Chewa people. The belief system's foundation of the dance is based on communication with those who are dead, or their spirits, calling this act pemphero lalikulu (Great Prayer).

The dance fuses religion, centuries of tradition and rituals as it not only entertains but conveys a message. It makes the borders of the realms indistinct, blurring the senses, hypnotizing and draw you in by curiosity only for a while. The dance involves complex footwork, great stamina and flinging dust into the air to create dust clouds. The dancers shuffle, step and respond to specific drum beats and songs depending on the mask he is wearing. The purpose of the dance is said to be a way of communicating messages of the ancestors to the villagers and making possible continued harvests and continued life. But each particular mask and dance serve a particular role. Each of these figures plays a particular, often evil, character representing certain forms of misbehaviour in order to teach moral and social values to the audience, or to tell a story by dance.

The dancers are men who have been initiated, and it is the chief of the village who has appointed them. And Initiation of men into the secret society is said to begin with living in a cemetery for a week or more, but no one knows what goes on there. This Nyau brotherhood is then responsible for the initiation of young men into adulthood, and the performance of the Gule Wamkulu at the end of the initiation procedure to celebrate the young men’s integration into adult society. The Nyau societies are found within villages but they are part of a larger network. With the society being so secretive, the dancer's masks become their identity and thus lead a secret double life. The society is said to have coded language, riddles, metaphors, myths and signing. The men are actual spirits in the ritual, and cannot be spoken of as men even though women may recognize their husbands, fathers, brother and uncles. Identifying the man wearing a mask is disrespectful to the religion.

Nyau dancers wear costumes and masks made from a variety of things, wood, paint, feathers, metal, wool, animal skin, representing a great variety of characters, such as wild animals, spirits of the dead or slave traders. Some masks made of animal hide or horns are believed to capture the soul or spirit of the deceased that brings renewed life. Some have a blank but horrific appearance, others a fixed enigmatic expression. When the dancer wears the mask, not only do they change their appearance, they also evoke a persona to match. Fierce masks will most undoubtedly evoke a high energy persona that would breakout into a wild dance and would kick up a cloud of dust and leave bystanders in awe. With hundreds of masks out there, the dance and experience would always be different with a different meaning.

There are different perceptions about them either by gender, age or even race. Most children are frightened by them, even some older people are. During performances with the masks it has been observed that women and children often rush into the houses when a Nyau performer threatens. But generally tourists or foreigners are intrigued by them. Not all this holds true, as it seems that nearly everyone you talk with about the Gule will give you a somewhat different story about them.

There is evidence that Gule Wamkulu existed during the great Chewa Empire of the 17th century. Despite the efforts of Christian missionaries to ban this practice in Chewa communities in Malawi, it managed to survive under British colonial rule by adopting some aspects of Christianity. Due to Westernization the Nyau society is becoming weakened, but since 2005, Gule Wamkulu has been classified as one of the 90 Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, a program by UNESCO for preservation of intangible cultural heritage. It is hope that the dance and traditions will be preserved for future generations.

Experience a world of ancient tradition and ritualistic mystery of song and dance that echo through time and space, transverse the realms of the present and that of the Chewa ancestors and spirits for a while, come and let your self be drawn in and experience The Great Dance.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Sapitwa peak, Malawi's own Bermuda triangle?


For a place literally translated as "a place where people do not go", Sapitwa Peak of Mulanje Mountain is a popular tourist attraction. Sapitwa soaring at (3001m), the highest point in Central Africa is achievable without any technical experience, a worthy goal and totally unresistable to any hiker. The mountain itself is stunning, from the landscape to the views, pools, rivers and waterfalls.

But nothing is complete without a good old myth. It’s the pinch of salt that brings out that flavor of  the expedition. With superstition being rather common in the country; it’s not surprising the mountain has its very own myth. 

Since time immemorial, there have been some beliefs to the effect that ancestral spirits of the people that once lived around Mulanje Mountain are still present.

These spirits are manifested in different ways. For example, the are testimonies to the effect that  people have found already prepared food on the Sapitwa and all one  has to do if faced with such a situation is to just eat the food and never invite friends to help you finish the meal. So, this food could be anything an example could be an enormous pile of bananas. Seriously? Who could possibly finish that by themselves without assistance from a friend? Other examples have been honey and even the local staple having already been prepared. Trust me, when you hear a local from that area tell the story, they will tell it in all seriousness, even chiefs. Whether you believe it or not, this belief is deeply rooted.

Some myths are just strange though, this one is an example. Usually myths are supposed to have a story to it, either there was good and evil, right and wrong, heroes and villains, and something happened to end the way it did. But in this case there are spirits who indirectly ask you to follow instructions or face the consequences. But why? Is there a deeper meaning? A greater purpose maybe? Or is it for just a good laugh? Anyway, I personally if faced in such a scenario would 'probably' eat whatever it is probably of fear of the unknown, only because the myth isn’t really clear why.  Perhaps it is a kind gesture by the spirits? If that's the case would it seem as being rude if you did not eat? Whatever the case, there is a sense that the spirits are always watching.

There has also been mysterious missing of people at the Sapitwa Peak. According to the locals this happens if a person angers the spirits and is disobeying instructions. It is believed that spirits of ancestors of people around the area roam the mountain and snatch people if they are displeased by something. Usually people still refer to the food gesture, whether you don't eat, don't finish or you share it with a friend, perhaps they get offended. So comes the real issue, if someone does go missing does it support the myth? A few people have gone missing, but then what does that mean concerning the myth?

Although the myths cannot be proven scientifically, locals believe them as the idea is deeply rooted in their minds and culture, and because several people have gone missing in the mountain but no bodies have ever been found despite exhaustive searches thus strengthening their belief. But whether it is true or not hasn’t stop me from going there. I’ve been there a couple times, once even in 6th grade. Whether it’s true, or just a myth, just make sure when you're hiking you’re prepared to eat whatever comes your way.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Lake of Stars Music Festival

When the time draws closer and closer to the month of October, it always seems like the stars are all aligning and the enchanted roads that lead to Mangochi seem to appear from a long slumber. The quiet colonial influenced Lake District becomes a bustling and busy area during this time and all roads lead to the glistening palm-fringed shores of Lake Malawi, the Lake of Stars.

Lake Malawi's nickname, "lake of stars" was coined by David Livingstone. This name came about due to lights from the lanterns of the fishermen in Malawi on their boats that resemble, from a distance, stars in the sky.

The four day international music festival takes place on the beautiful shores of Africa's third largest freshwater lake. It’s the annual music festival that brings a variety of artists from around the world in a clash of genres that seems to fuse perfectly to create a yearly unforgettable weekend. Over 80 artists perform during the entire weekend offering a variety of music including afropop, jazz, reggae, R’n’b e.t.c and they never forget to include local Malawian artists which add a unique experience as it showcases local Malawian talent to the world. Over three thousand people travel to Malawi just for this music festival and it is without a doubt Malawi's number one tourist event of the year. Malawians in their thousands even flock to this festival.

The atmosphere is brilliant. The sun, sand and cool waters add to a refreshing and relaxing tropical environment. There is food, drinks and many stages with various performances to keep you entertained for hours. The decorations are also a site to see.


It is amazing, it seems like the whole world converges on one shore, as you can hear so many different languages and accents that it gets so overwhelming and everyone comes because of their love of music and to have an unforgettable time. Despite a clash of cultures, traditions, ethnicity and religions it is so peaceful and vet so vibrant, it’s inspiring to see so many people with different backgrounds getting along as if nothing else in the world matters apart from just the music and fun filled weekend.

The event was founded by Will Jameson, and was born of his desire to raise money for a developing economy whilst helping to promote Malawi as a tourist destination and expose Malawian artists to international crowds. The festival has grown to achieve international success, even the guardian quotes it as “The World’s Most Spectacular Music Festival”.  Lake Of Stars offers an excellent opportunity to sample the underexposed music of some of south east Africa's best performers. Also expose people to some music and artists from around the world.  It's an incredible accomplishment that's getting better by the year. Lake of Stars is an event not to be missed.

Friday, 1 June 2012

The Elite 6, a glance into Malawi's history

It is a great honor to have your portrait embossed onto a local currency, but it takes great deeds to be recognized and be given such an honor. Before, there was only John Chilembwe, the great Malawian martyr who graced every Malawian bank note, but now there are five new faces. But who are these new faces on the new Malawi bank notes? Did they also play a crucial role and do they deserve to be given such an honor? After doing a little bit of research, I can let you be the judge of that. So I’ll go into some Malawian history, and re order these great figures in the order of their acts and how they are all intertwined. But I’ll start from John Chilembwe because that is where it all started from.

Reverend John Chilembwe (1860-1915)

The great Malawian martyr, he is the only man of mythic proportions in all of Malawian history. His face is unforgettable as it has been the face of all the Malawian bank notes for years. We may know that he was a martyr, but not that many people know the extent to which he played a role. So let me enlighten you. Born in 1860 in Blantyre, he attended the Church of Scotland mission from around 1890 and became a servant and helper of an egalitarian fundamentalist missionary, Joseph Booth. In 1897 Booth took him to the United States Lynchburg, Virginia, where he attended Virginia Theological College, a small African-American seminary. Here Chilembwe was exposed to the works of John Brown, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey and other abolitionists. Chilembwe received a degree from a black theological college. In 1900 he returned to Nyasaland as an ordained Baptist minister. Working with the American National Baptist Convention, he founded the Providence Industrial Mission, which developed into seven schools. In 1913, Workers were denied wages, and beaten. William Jervis Livingstone, a plantation owner, burned down rural churches and schools established by Chilembwe. On January 23, 1915 Chilembwe staged an uprising: he and 200 followers attacked local plantations that they considered to be oppressing African workers. Chilembwe’s plan involved the killing of all male Europeans. They killed three white plantation staff, including Livingstone, whom they beheaded in front of his wife and small daughter. Several African workers were also killed, but they did not harm any women or children on orders of Chilembwe. Then following Sunday Chilembwe preached with Livingstone’s head beside him on the pulpit. When the uprising failed to gain local support, Chilembwe tried to flee to Mozambique.  However, he was killed by officials on February 3, 1915. Although Chilembwe had sent letters to neighboring Zomba and Ntcheu encouraging them to organize uprisings at the same time his word did not arrive in time. His revolt is thought to have been rooted in his growing disgust with the wanton cruelty of white rule, especially on white estates that had African tenants and wage earners. A more immediate cause was British use of Nyasa soldiers against the Germans in east Africa at the outbreak of World War I. He was an early figure in the resistance toward colonialism in Nyasaland, now Malawi, and he sparked a building ant colonialism attitude. Today John Chilembwe is celebrated as a hero for independence, and John Chilembwe Day is observed annually on January 15 in Malawi.

James Frederick Sangala (1900-1974)

He was born around 1900 at Naisi, near the town of Zomba. Sangala was educated at Zomba Mission primary school and then at Blantyre Mission substation at Domasi. He qualified as a teacher in 1923 and taught primary school until 1927. But what major role did he play? In fact, he is a bridge between Patriot John Chilembwe and Ngwazi Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda. Let me elaborate. The North Nyasa Native Association was formed in 1912, typically composed of the educated elite: teachers, church leaders and civil servants. James Frederick Sangala in Blantyre and Levi Mumba in the rest of the country became leaders of the Native Association movement in Nyasaland during the 1930s. It sought to gain a voice in administrative, economic and other issues and they were encouraged by the colonial administrations. During the 1930s, the white colonists  of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Northern Rhodesia (now  Zambia) were pushing for unification, and wanted to include Nyasaland  in the union, seeing Nyasaland as a useful source of labor that might  otherwise be drawn to South Africa. The people of Nyasaland resisted this move since they regarded the Rhodesias as "White Man" territory, and preferred the trusteeship arrangement in Nyasaland under which they had greater rights. As early as 1935, the Blantyre Native Association led by Sangala called a meeting of leaders in the area where they were invited to sign a petition opposing amalgamation. The Nyasaland Educated African Council emerged in 1943 from the leaders of the Native Associations, calling for a rapid movement towards self-government. The Council renamed itself the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC) at the urging of Sangala, who felt the movement should not be restricted to the educated elite. Sangala encouraged the Congress to "Fight for Freedom", although he was careful to explain to the colonial powers that he did not mean armed conflict by that phrase. By 1950, James Chinyama was elected President, with Sangala Vice-President.  However, in 1953 the Colonial Office established the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in which Europeans would retain a position of leadership, abandoning the earlier principles of partnership between the races. The NAC leaders saw this as a betrayal. Uncoordinated protests followed, which were forcefully suppressed, with an official death toll of eleven Africans. Sangala was arrested in September 1953, but was released the next month when the magistrate dismissed the charges. In January 1954 Sangala was elected President of the Congress.  Although he continued to advocate civil disobedience. Sangala continued to press London to accept the principle of democratic elections to the Legislative Council. He asserted his right of freedom of movement and was arrested. He was charged with having advised Thamar Dillon Thomas Banda, the secretary-general of the Congress, to hand a seditious publication to the editor of the Nyasaland Times. Sangala was persuaded to resign from his position as Nyasaland African Congress President, and was replaced by Thamar Dillon Thomas Banda. The NAC was banned by the colonial authorities in 1959, and was succeeded by the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), led from prison by Dr. Hastings Banda. So Sangala paved way for the future leader of Malawi, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

Ngwazi Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda (1898-1997)

He is one of the most bold and iconic people whose name echoes through not only Malawian history, but also African history itself. I have talked about his humble beginnings under the Kachere tree in the Kamuzu Academy blog, so I’ll continue to what made this man famous. After leaving Malawi as a young man, he went to South Africa in his teens to work as a laborer.  From there he went to the U.S. to attend school, graduating high school from Wilberforce Academy in Ohio in 1925. He briefly attended Indiana University, followed by the University of Chicago. He studied medicine and became a doctor, working in Britain and Ghana before becoming active in politics and returning to Malawi. He answered the call for help from his motherland, Malawi was under colonial rule and he was coming back to rise against it. He became involved in politics when white settlers demanded the federation of Nyasaland (later Malawi) and the Rhodesias in 1949. In the 1950s he toured the country making antifederation speeches, for which he was imprisoned by British colonial officials. In 1963 the federation was dissolved. He played a crucial role in the break-up of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda was the first president of the Republic of Malawi. He concentrated on increasing agricultural productivity; he generally supported women’s rights, improved the country’s infrastructure, and maintained a good educational system relative to other African countries. Declared president for life in 1971, his rule became increasingly autocratic and austere. He was voted out of office in 1994. He died in South Africa in 1997. Some hailing him as a national and African hero, while others denounce him as a tyrant. But when you look at the big picture, his existence was most beneficial to all Malawians and his deeds cannot go unnoticed.

Rose Lomathinda Chibambo (1928-present)

She is a woman of great importance and her story is only coming to light now, especially to the later generations. Born in Kafukule, Mzimba District on September 8, 1928 when Nyasaland was still a protectorate under British colonial rule. In 1952 she became aware of Nyasaland African  Congress (NAC) politics during the controversy over the colonial  government's plan to make Nyasaland part of the Federation of  Rhodesia and Nyasaland and She decided that women should be more  involved in the struggle, and began to organize her friends in Zomba,  mostly the wives of civil servants. In 1953 she moved to Blantyre, joined the local NAC branch and was elected treasurer, the first woman to hold a senior position in the NAC. She joined forces with Vera Chirwa to form the Nyasaland African Women's League; Executives of the Women's League would select fabric from which they made matching outfits. The purpose was to show solidarity at public occasions, identifying members as a group. Rose Chibambo organized Malawian women in their political fight against the British as a political force to be reckoned with alongside their menfolk in the push for independence. In 1956, Rose Chibambo organized a group of women to protest when the NAC president James Frederick Sangala and secretary T.D.T. Banda were arrested for sedition. Her group was arrested and fined after they travelled by bus to the High Court in Zomba. But what did she wish to achieve? She said "I had this feeling  ... women should be part and parcel of the whole movement, even of running the country. Women should be involved in decision making.  That was my aim" She was imprisoned in 1959, while pregnant with her 5th child, along with other Malawians whom the Federal government felt were a threat to British rule. She gave birth while imprisoned and was not released till a year later. After Malawi gained independence, Rose Chibambo was the first woman minister in the new cabinet. On 7 September 1964 there was a cabinet crisis in which Chibambo and others opposed Hastings Banda. Banda declared that the rebel leaders were traitors to the state and threats to national security. Chibambo and the others were suspended from the party, which prevented them from attending party meetings and prevented members of the party from attending their meetings, giving Banda full control of the MCP. When she fell out with Dr. Hastings Banda she was forced into exile for thirty years, returning after the restoration of democracy. She is the most prominent female figure in Malawian history, with such bravery, influence and determination, and to achieve such great status and recognition, she is a figure worth noting.

Inkosi ya Makhosi M'mbelwa II (Lazalo Mkhuzo Jere) (1915-1959)

Born in 1915, from the Jere/Qeko lineage of the Ngoni tribe. He rose to the title of Paramount chief of the Jere in 1928. The origins of the Ngoni tribe are from South Africa, near Swaziland. His forefather, Inkosi ya Makhosi Zwangendaba led a migration lasting more than 20 years which ultimately led them to settle in Malawi. He also played a crucial role in the fight for independence, especially involving the local Malawians. He was the Leader of Malawi independence movement. He was the most powerful and fearless leader the Northern or Jere Ngoni have had since settling in northern Malawi. He too led his people to oppose the imposition of the Federation in the early 1950s.  In the late 1950s, he mobilized the people of Mzimba District to rally behind the Nyasaland African Congress, its leader Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda, and the movement for national independence. He died in 1959 though not as big as the other freedom fighters or more educated Malawians, he was a key player as he was an influential king who could and did easily amassed support for the cause.

Inkosi Ya Makhosi Gomani II (Philip Zitonga Maseko) (1921-1954)

Born in 1921, from the Maseko/Gomani lineage of the Ngoni tribe. He received an education from Bevu School and ascended to paramount chieftaincy. He was a Malawi nationalist. He was the most development conscious paramount chief the Southern or Maseko Ngoni had during the colonial period. He, like his counterpart Inkosi ya Makhosi M'mbelwa II (Lazalo Mkhuzo Jere) mobilized his people to oppose the Federation of Nyasaland and Rhodesia, was deposed and  exiled for that reason, and died in 1954 whilst in exile as a martyr while defending  the dignity and freedom of his people. This, similarly to Inkosi ya Makhosi M'mbelwa II is a feat worth noting as he was a key player as he was an influential king.

These are the people from our past that shaped our present to ensure a better future where all Malawians are free from colonial rule and without their brave efforts our country would not be as we know it. These are the people we ought to remember, lest we forget.