Black History Month
Mitsidi Volunteer Village
When our Chairman, Tony Smith stumbled on the idyllic, scenic, colonial style house and gardens of Mitsidi back in 2008, he soon fell in love with the place and the area of Chilomoni Township, Blantyre Malawi. It was soon to become the base for all international volunteers who would travel over the coming years to Africa to help with the expansion of the not-for-profit Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise.
Mitsidi has seen 100’s of international volunteers come and go, mostly giving up their time for free to help construct and design our buildings, train our team, teach children, and help with operational and management support.
A devoted Christian himself, little did Tony know when he purchased the property that Mitsidi would have strong links with missionary work and John Chilembwe. It certainly is a place rich in history.
The Story of John Chilembwe
John worked as a house servant at Mitsidi to Joseph Booth in the 1890s. Joseph Booth originally from Derby was an English missionary working out in Malawi. Joseph was known for his outspoken views on ‘Africa for Africans’, he undertook missionary work for several Christian denominations.
John Chilembwe became one of Booth’s proteges and in 1897 both John & Joseph travelled to America. Being of African origin, John faced many difficulties, he saw for himself the struggles of African Americans even after the abolition of slavery. He studied theology in Virginia and was later ordained as a Baptist minister.
John return to Nyasaland in 1900, where he grew his missionary and his following to bring equality. In his own words “to labour amongst his benighted race”.
All was not well, and John was angered by Livingstone (a Scottish missionary) and his refusal to accept the worth of the African people. John fought hard against the British Colonial rule.
John Chilembwe is widely acknowledged as one of the first Africans to fight against colonial injustices in the 20th century, staging an uprising against the British Malawi in 1915.
Sadly, John Chilembwe died for his cause in 1915, and although his rebellion was unsuccessful, it is said that Chilembwe created the groundwork for the African independence that would happen in 1964.
John Chilembwe’s Life Is Still Celebrated
Malawi’s bank notes ‘Kwacha’ is embedded with his face, Malawians still celebrate his life and take a bank holiday in his memory on 15th January each year.
Most recently you can find a statue of him in Trafalgar Square, named Antelope. Chilembwe is seen wearing a wide brimmed hat, despite an unwritten rule that Africans shouldn’t wear hats in front of white people.
So, if you ever get the chance to visit the Chilomoni district, or you’re lucky enough to have visited Mitsidi. Sit on that Khondi and take it all in, the beauty and the history that this place offers. I sure feel humbled to know that I have probably walked on the same road and looked at the same views of these truly inspirational men.
Help Support Our Projects in Chilomoni, Malawi
By purchasing our Eco Friendly products on our website, you will be supporting our projects in Chilomoni, Malawi. We have some great gifts for him and her.