Elliot Kenan Kamwana

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Elliott Kenan Kamwana Achirwa (c. 1872–1956) was a preacher in Nyasaland (now Malawi) who popularised the Watch Tower movement into Southern Central Africa, and subsequently created his own independent Church, the "Mlondo" or Watchman Mission.[1][2][3]

Elliot Kenan Kamwana was a Tonga born in Mpopomeni village, Mzimba District in 1872. His father had been a tribal chief who was murdered, and Kamwana suffered a dislocated childhood as he continually fled with his mother from Ngoni raids. He attended the Mission school at Bandawe between 1898 and 1901 distinguishing himself until frustrated in his repeated attempts to attain baptism and ordination, he left. Moving to South Africa, he was baptised there and worked as a hospital attendant and preached, experiencing the harsh conditions of migrant labour, before he met an itinerant preacher, Joseph Booth, missionary, in Cape Town in 1907, who introduced him to Charles Russell’s Watch Tower teachings.

He subsequently returned to Nyasaland offering baptism and entrance to the church, bypassing the restricted entry procedures imposed by the Scottish and English missionaries such as William Percival Johnson. Approximately 10,000 people were baptized under his direction. Fearful of Kawmana's actions, the British Colonial authorities exiled him to South Africa, from which he later he moved to Chinde in Portuguese East Africa. With meteor showers and the outbreak of the War in 1914, Kamwana's predictions of the end of the world seemed to come true. After he had returned to Nyasaland and was imprisoned there, his brother was caught attempting to smuggle 'subversive' letters and Watch Tower pamphlets to Kamwana. He was exiled without trial to Mauritius and then the Seychelles where he remained until he was finally allowed to return in 1937. In exile he continued to disseminate millenarian teachings, writing apocalyptic letters to his followers in Central South East Africa in the style of John of Patmos.

Kamwana was eventually allowed to return to Nyasaland in 1937, where he inititated the Mlondo or "Watchman" Mission, an African independent church independent of the Watch Tower Society, until his death in the 1956.


  1. ^ The Making of Modern Africa: The twentieth century Adiele Eberechukwu Afigbo, Robin H. Palmer - 1986 Elliot Kenan Kamwana and African Watchtower The largest movement expressing rejection of white domination in religious ... between 1908 and 1909 by Elliot Kenan Kamwana. The African Watch tower Church gained its inspiration from the ...
  2. ^ The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association ... - Page 35 Robert A. Hill, Marcus Garvey, Universal Negro Improvement Association - 2006 Elliott Kenan Kamwana Achirwa (1872?-1956), founder of the Watch Tower movement in Nyasaland, was a student of Joseph Booth. A Tonga from northern Nyasaland, Kamwana was educated at the Bandawe school and later at the Overtoun Institute ...
  3. ^ Voices of preachers in protest: the ministry of two Malawian ... J. C. Chakanza - 1998 "(i) Early Life The full name given to him by many sources is Elliot Kenan Kamwana Achirwa, but usually "Achirwa" is left out. However, Phiri gives Elliot Kenan Kamwana Masokwa Chirwa. He rightly states that the prefix "A" in the last ...
  • Andrew C. Ross
  • Dictionary of African Historical Biography, p. 100
  • 1976 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, "Part 1—South Africa and Neighboring Territories", pages 73–74
  • ‘A very antagonistic spirit’: Elliot Kamwana, Christianity and the end of the world in Nyasaland: Henry Donati, Dissertation, University of Oxford