RARE FOOTAGE FROM ARCHIVES: as we are about to enter the month of October to commemorate 50 years after the October 1967 Mwanza “War”
What you see on this video clip (click here to view), are the 8 prisoners of “war” who were captured during the Mwanza “war” of October 1967 in Malawi.
This video was shot in April 1968 at the High Court in Blantyre, Malawi on the day the prisoners of “war” were sentenced to death by hanging. On this video, they are walking from the High court into the police vehicle back to prison while the multitudes who had gathered at the court look on.
Are the people we see on this video who had gathered at the High court seeming to be celebrating the verdict or they are in a sorrow mood? Is it possible to tell?
All the same, these prisoners of “war” attempted to appeal against the High court ruling. But the Supreme Court on 23rd October 1968 upheld the verdict by the High court. They were hanged in early 1969 and buried at unmarked graves near Zomba prison where the dead bodies of their three colleagues Yatuta Chisiza, Lutengano Mwahimba and another one (committed suicide) who died during the Mwanza “war” were also buried in October 1967.
Four of their colleagues had managed to successfully escape to Zambia as these were being captured during the Mwanza “war”. Two of these were Frank Jiya and George Kanyanya.
The death of Yatuta Chisiza, Lutengano Mwahimba and later the seven who were captured, tried and hanged didnt deter George Kanyanya and Frank Jiya. Instead they were inspired to continue with the struggle in exile alongside Dr Attati Mpakati throughout the 1970s and 1980s
End of March 1992, barely two weeks after Pastoral letter by the Catholic Bishops, George Kanyanya and Frank Jiya and others convened a conference in Lusaka (Intercontinental hotel) at which Chakufwa Chihana as representative of labour and Bakili Muluzi (as representative on business/chamber of commerce & industry) were invited as participants from Malawi to strategize on how to cease the occasion in the aftermath of the pastoral letter and intensify the struggle against Dr Banda which had started way back in 1963.
An Interim steering committee was formed as an outcome of the Lusaka conference. It is reported that Chihana had attempted to impose his name as a Chair of this Interim steering committee but to no avail.
A week after the conference, 6 April 1992, participants of this conference and the Interim steering committee that had been put up were to learn with shock from BBC Radio that Chihana without consulting the steering committee had decided to copy and paste the conference resolutions and read them as his own petition against Dr Banda regime at the KIA airport upon his return from Lusaka conference, and therefore arrested right at the airport with ‘seditious’ literature, some of which were actually materials from Lusaka conference
After June (referendum) 1993, when amnesty was granted to all exiled Malawians, George Kanyanya and Frank Jiya came back to Malawi and played instrumental roles in the democratization process 1993-94.
When Bakili Muluzi became President after May 1994 general Elections, George Kanyanya a rebel soldier who survived the October 1967 Mwanza ‘war’, served in his cabinet while Frank Jiya another surviving rebel solder, was appointed a Chair of Board at ESCOM.
Some of the prisoners of “war” we see in this video clip, if they had managed escape capture and survive till 1994, perhaps some of them would have been in President Muluzi’s cabinet in the post-Dr. Banda era like George Kanyanya. Perhaps some of these would have served in foreign missions or parastatal boards like Frank Jiya, other things remaining constant;
Put differently, if George Kanyanya who later became a cabinet minister and Frank Jiya who served as Board Chair at ESCOM under President Muluzi government, had not fled successfully during the Mwanza “war”, they would have been tried and hanged in 1969 and forgotten like these fighters we see in this video.