The movie





John Chilembwe (c.1860 - 1915) with his wife, Ida, and daughter, Emma, in a photograph probably taken between 1910 and 1914.

Photograph courtesy of George Shepperson, from his book with Thomas Price, Independent African.



Currently in the pre-production phase, Chilembwe is an ambitious project to produce a film depicting the life of one of Africa’s earliest freedom fighters, hero and martyr John Chilembwe.

John Chilembwe is the first African, as early as 1915, to attempt to overthrow the then oppressive British rule over Nyasaland (now Malawi). His attempt was unsuccessful practically but his rare display of bravery and patriotism in challenging white supremacy when it was at its peak earned him a heroic status. He became the archetypal symbol to all Malawians who later stood up to challenge British rule. In his memory, a public holiday is celebrated every year in Malawi on the 15th of January and his face is on every bank note in Malawi. Interestingly however, since his death in 1915, mist fails to clear of his personality and death, not only locally in Malawi but internationally as well. While some still believe he escaped from the colonial forces and went to America, others maintain that the colonial powers killed him. Which is which?

Fascinated by the man, FirstDawn Arts embarked on a serious research to unveil the “John Chilembwe mystery.” The research has not only managed to track down John Chilembwe as a down to earth person- highlighting his shortfalls, aspirations and his colourful dream about Africa but has also cleared in part the mist surrounding his death and why some of his kinsmen to this day still believe he will come again as the “messiah!”

In tracing the history of John Chilembwe, the research has also recognised the enormous contributions by other equally important personalities like Joseph Booth, Charles Vincente Domingo and Elliot Kenan Kamwana whose sacrifices in the emancipation of Africa from colonial trappings are quite often unrecognised or not known.
The screenplay is at an advanced stage. Casting and principle photography shall start next year (2009).


For more on John Chilembwe, check out the following pages on the World Wide Web (www):



Watch this space for updates!!

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