THE TACTICS OF THE CHILEMBWE UPRISING

 

The  uprising of 1915 led by Revered John Chilembwe was a well calculated operation of its own. The Commander of the forces, John Chilembwe divided his men into sections each with a specific task. Johnstone Zilongola with JohnathanChigwiya and Lifeyo Cheka Cheka headed the first group and they were placed as a mid – fielding back – up group for the other groups near Chiradzulu.

The second group was headed by Wilson Zimba and Abraham Chimbiya. Their task was to unleash an attack at A.J. Bruce’s Estate Headquarters at Magomero.

David Kaduya, Stephen Mkulichi and Charles Wallace Kampingo led the thirdgroup and their noble task was to break the African Lakes Corporation Mandala Stores in Blantyre. Their objective was steal weaponry of all categories ranging from cartridges’ rifles guns and ammunition.

The fourth group was more of a back – up for the Mandala – weapon – seizing – group and this was positioned in Blantyre under Duncan Kunjilima. Their role was to be on the alert and advance on to Mandala stores to help their comrades and set the Blantyre Boma Headquarters on fire before advancing to Mandala. They had four tins of paraffin for operation.

A fifth group was under the command of the famous John Gray Kufa, who was seen as Chilembwe’s right hand man. John Gray Kufa was to start his attack on the planters of Nsoni area. Commanding a total of 500 men, the impact of John Gray Kufa’s battalion would have increased the efficiency of the rebellion.

Just before the rebellion, a strategic problem arose: John Gray Kufachickened out and his  500 man unit scattered. Later in February 1915,Kufa was captured, tried and executed for offenses related to the rebellion. Kunjilimaalso chickened out, scattering the Blantyre group. These events spoiled themaster plan of the uprising. Chilembwe as a charismatic leader, undaunted by the cowardice in his own camp, proceeded with the uprising because his plan was to ‘strike a blow and die’.By the end of the uprising, Chilembwe was dead and the open resistance against the racist colonial rule was born.

 

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