It is funny how people think of Reverend John Chilembwe as the best thing that ever happened to Malawi-- when Malawi was not even an idea; when the communal spirit of nationality was far from being born.
The truth is that Chilembwe was a flop!
Come to think of it. After Chilembwe came back from the United States of America, he set up a church (in his Chiradzulu District) that is a classic example of stunted growth!
The church he established, Providence Industrial Mission, is like Malawi's political parties: home-based! You will never find a branch of his church in Chitipa, or Salima or Blantyre.
He could not think beyond his home district, even in his religious thinking. He was a selfish man.
Then, there is the bit about going around and cutting white settlers' heads. What Chilembwe needed was guns, ammunition, and the power that came with them.
He wanted to protect his church men and women from the white settlers menace, establish himself as the lord of that area. Nothing more. Nothing national.
And, for your information,Chilembwe--the Reverend-- had two slaves he had bought from Mozambique: Paton Miguel and Amigo Ricco. They worked for him day and night, and he did not even convert them to join his church. Chilembwe was a calculating man. He knew that converting him would mean he would start looking at them with a brother's eye-- and Chilembwe was no brotherly figure. Like modern-day prophets-- the so-called prophets-- he was a businessman who never had thoughts about people from other areas.
Why, then, is he over-rated?
Simple: He went to America, learned their religious doctrine through education at that sell-out theological college. Oh, he could even speak their language too: English!
Worst of all, he was following their god. Their idea of God.
So, as a puppet, they hyped his name.
But there is someone who did far greater work for this country-- someone who was greater than John Chilembwe-- but whose only 'sin' in their eyes-- you know who?-- was not to speak their language, not to follow their god.
It is Mataka, the no-nonsense Mataka I am talking about. His story has to be retold. His story is so nationalistic it is touching!