President Lazarus Chakwera yesterday led thousands of Malawians at Mzuzu Upper Stadium in commemorating Remembrance Day which is observed in honour of soldiers who died in the First and Second world wars.
Remembrance Day marks the start of the Poppy Week when well-wishers help the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) in raising funds by buying the poppy flower in support of war veterans. The money goes towards care of World War I and World War II veterans that are kept in MDF memorial homes.
During the event, Chakwera and other dignitaries, including envoys, members of the clergy and Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa, laid wreaths at a makeshift cenotaph.
The event is military in nature characterised by actions with no speeches made.
In an interview after the event, Nankhumwa asked government to erect a permanent pillar in Mzuzu for the commemoration as is the case in other places like Zomba
He said: “We are talking about our soldiers who died and some who got injured while fighting for the peace of the world and Malawi. In Mzuzu, we need a permanent pillar where the commemorations can be taking place.
“We have a permanent pillar in Blantyre and Zomba and it is high time that government considered erecting one in Mzuzu. We also need proper policies and legal provisions to ensure sustenance of the welfare of our veterans. “
Other dignitaries that laid wreaths included MDF Commander Vincent Nundwe, Inspector General of Malawi Police Service George Kainja, Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Gotani Hara, Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda SC, as well as Secretary to the President and Cabinet ZangaZangaChikhosi.
Members of the clergy from different denominations prayed for continued peace, souls of fallen soldiers as well as for peace and tranquility in Malawi.
On his part, a Zomba-based war veteran who served during World War II, Sir Major Frank Masiyani, 85, praised government for their continued care, appealing that such must continue.
He said: “Just look at me. We are being looked after very well. We do not lack money or food. We want this to continue. It’s just that there are a few of us remaining, many have died.”
The day falls on the second Sunday of the month closest to November 11 at 11 am, the day and time when the Second World War, which was fought from 1939 to 1945, officially ended.
An estimated 30 000 Malawian soldiers participated in the two world wars’ battlefronts in various countries, including Ethiopia, Madagascar, Burma and Jamaica.
There is no living soldier in the country that fought in World War I from 1914 to 1918, but some who fought in World War II are still alive.
About 65 000 combatants participated, out of which 20 000 were killed while about 10 000 were injured in World War I. World War II was the worst spread and about 50 000 were killed.
—Additional reporting by Cosmas Chimaliro, Mana