Talk:Henry Masauko Blasius Chipembere

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My Name is Thengo Maloya. I wish to edit or correct one point about the history of Henry Masauko Blasius Chipembere. He was not the Sectretary -General, he was the Treasurer-General. The Secretary-General used the Dunduza Kaluli Chisiza a young brother to Yatuta Kaluli Chisiza.

Thank You.


I have expanded the article, and merged the previous stub, based partly on my acquaintance after 1990 with his widow Catherine in Pasadena, CA; and on some quick searches of Google references, which I have collected as External links to assist others. The correction above by Thengo Maloya needs to be incorporated somehow, but I do not know enough to do it correctly (I am not clear what organization he held the post in -- the NAC?-- and I am also not sure about the role and name of the "? Kaluli Chisiza" person, so I leave that to a future editor. Wwheaton (talk) 03:35, 6 July 2008 (UTC)

Photograph -- in reference added. Permission?[edit]

There is an excellent early photograph of Henry and Catherine here, from Robert I. Rotberg, Harvard Magazine May-June 2010, pp 42-43, which reference I have just added. If any members of the Chipembere family (or other friends in contact with them) happen by here, I wonder if it could be released into public domain, so we can use it in this article? I will attempt to do this myself, but Catherine is now in Malawi, so others may be able to reach her more quickly. Thanks. Wwheaton (talk) 23:53, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

Chipembere's reputation[edit]

It is difficult to evaluate Chipembere’s place in Malawi’s history, as he was not able to realise his full potential. In the decade he spent in Malawi following his return from South Africa, he spent two years as a middle-ranking civil servant and part-time Nyasaland African Congress activist, almost three as a member of the Nyasaland Legislative Council, over three years in two prison terms separated by a few months as a Malawi Congress Party activist, 18 months as a government minister in two separate departmental roles and some final months as an ex-minister and fugitive. He was well educated and regarded as an intellectual, but three questionable parts of his record are his relationship with Kamuzu Banda, the extent to which he encouraged violence and his attitude to Europeans in general.

Chipembere showed some naivety when he urged Banda to return to Nyasaland. In view of the stringent conditions Banda demanded in 1957, and the autocratic powers over Congress Banda assumed soon after his 1958 return, Chipembere should have realised Banda would never be just a figurehead. Expecting Banda to accept him as mediator with the ministers who had been sacked or resigned in 1964 merely increased Banda’s suspicions, and Chipembere’s plea in 1968 to be allowed back into Malawi after organising an armed revolt in 1965 and forming an opposition party seems unduly trustful in the light of Banda’s repressive record. In his unfinished autobiography, Chipembere admitted being naïve in his relations with Banda, and put his own resignation and later revolt as principled but unrealistic.

The extent to which Chipembere promoted violence between 1958 and 1963 is confused by the discredited allegations of a murder plot. However, there is no doubt he did urge Malawi Congress Party supporters to go beyond non-violent protests by breaking the law and resisting government attempts to enforce it. It is difficult to see how the action of some of those supporters in rioting and the intimidation and beating of political opponents was not consistent with what he urged. Although Chipembere claimed to the Devlin Commission not to have advocated violence, the Commission nevertheless concluded that he and other Congress Party leaders had agreed on a policy of violent resistance, particularly in the event that Banda was arrested. Both Devlin and Glyn Jones, who were generally sympathetic to African aspirations, considered Chipembere to be a man of violence at that time. In 1965, Chipembere attempted an armed rebellion against Banda that led to several deaths on both side and the subsequent imprisonment of many of his followers, whereas most ex-ministers simply left Malawi.

In later life, Chilembwe was described as charming to people of all races. However, in a number of his speeches, particularly after his first period of imprisonment, he condemned all Europeans as a group and did not rule out violence against them solely on the grounds of their race. Unlike Banda, he declined to socialise with Europeans, even when a minister, although he worked well with his expatriate senior civil servants. He also advocated immediate Africanisation of all senior civil service posts although, as Minister for Education, he must have known there were too few qualified Malawians to fill those posts. By 1963 the problems caused by the rapid withdrawal of expatriates from ex-French Guinea and ex-Belgian Congo might have suggested more caution.

These issues suggest that, up to 1965 at least, Chipembere, as a theorist and idealist, lacked the ability to compromise necessary to be a successful political leader, particularly in a newly-independent nation. He was not trusted by a British Government which, while prepared to deal with Banda, who was not involved in promoting violence unlike other Congress leaders, would have been reluctant to deal with Chipembere. Although in the post-Banda era, he has been adopted as a national hero and lost leader, the latter at least seems highly speculative.

Sscoulsdon (talk) 08:01, 22 October 2017 (UTC)


The article currently uses the term "Nyasas" for Africans in Nyasaland, but this seems to be a name coined by Europeans in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia for Africans migrants from Nyasaland rather than by Africans within Nyasaland. Preben Kaarsholm quotes a man of Malawian origin whose family moved to South Africa in 1964 as saying they were called Nyasas in a derogatory way, rather than by their actual ethnicity[1]

Sscoulsdon (talk) 15:34, 4 November 2017 (UTC)

  1. ^ P. Kaarsholm, (1987). Violence, Political Culture & Development in Africa, p. 154.