As thousands of people gathered at Providence Industrial Mission (PIM) in Chiradzulu today to honour the late John Chilembwe, PIM president Reverend Patrick Makondetsa delivered a moving sermon, challenging Malawians to commit themselves to progress, thereby bringing the country to light.
Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe, who represented President Peter Mutharika at the prayers admitted that Malawi is engulfed in darkness, as it is among the least developed countries in the world despite having plenty of resources to develop.
The prayers were held to mark 101 years after Chilembwe revolted against British rule from January 23 1915 due to structural conditions in the colonial set up and marginalised State policies on land, labour and taxation among Africans.
The revolt ended with his death on February 3 1915 in Mulanje as he tried to flee to Mozambique.
And reading from the book of Isaiah 60:1-3 and John 8:12 during prayers yesterday, Rev Makondetsa titled his sermon Arise and Shine as a Nation, in which he called for unity of purpose among Malawians, and respect for leaders.
He stressed the need for Malawians to respect and follow Chilembwe’s ideals of a just and hard working society, in which people look at each other as equals irrespective of race, colour, ethnicity or religious beliefs.
He challenged the citizenry to be hard working just as Chilembwe was, saying it is only through such hard work that Malawi would develop.
“When I look at you, I must not say I am looking at a Christian or a Muslim; I must not say that am looking at a Tumbuka, Lhomwe or Yao, we must look at each other as Malawians, we must all rise and shine to develop this country.”
Added Makondetsa amid ululations: “We may not like the President [Peter Mutharika] as a person, but God has put him in that position, and we must respect the presidency. In the same way, God has given us Dr Lazarus Chakwera as leader of opposition, let us respect whatever he say because it is God that has out him there. ”
Rev Makondetsa also took a swipe at other men of God, saying sermons must not just focus on wealth, but also on repentance and salvation.
“We must endeavour as preachers to give government good people in the civil service, people that are filled with light and work diligently. We must not just preach about wealth or miracles, let us also preach about salvation,” he continued.
Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe said it sad that Malawi remains undeveloped, despite harbouring many resources. He said even Chilembwe would have wondered why a people with so many resources are still trapped in the york of poverty.
Said Gondwe: “The question is, why are we not developed? That is the question that people like John Chilembwe would be posing to us. Why if we have so many people, so many things around us, why don’t we have the confidence that we can do it?”
“Success will depend upon us deciding to succeed . There is darkness at the moment, and as the President [Makondetsa] has promised, there will light at the end of the tunnel, and I am absolutely confident that Malawi shall succeed,” he said.
Gondwe then urged Malawians to embrace the spirit of love as well as hard work and determination which Chilembwe had for the country to develop.
Born in 1871, Chilembwe attended Virginia Theological Seminary and College in the United States of America (USA) and returned to Malawi around 1901 (after being ordained as a Baptist minister) to establish the Providence Industrial Mission (PIM) in Chiradzulu district.