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When is Malawi Martyrs Day?
How long until Martyrs' Day?
|This holiday next takes place in 343 Days.|
Dates of Martyrs' Day
|Honors the political heroes who gave their lives in the struggle against British colonialism|
Martyrs Day is a public holiday in Malawi observed on 3rd March.
This day honors the political heroes who gave their lives in the struggle against British colonialism.
History of Malawi Martyrs Day
In 1891, Britain established the British Central Africa Protectorate which included the whole of present-day Malawi. The protectorate was renamed Nyasaland in 1907.
In the 1950s, the spirit of Malawian nationalism grew as a result of resistance to political moves by the British to form a stable presence in the region, such as the creation of the Central African Federation in 1953, which attempted to bring Nyasaland together with Northern and Southern Rhodesia.
This gave the impetus to Malawians to create their own political parties, with the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC) emerging as the strongest voice for Malawians.
In early 1959, the NAC stepped up their protests with a plan to continually raise the level of demonstrations to force the British into a response.
This led to the British declaring a state of emergency on 3 March 1959. In an attempt to quell the protesters, they arrested prominent Malawian nationalists and other dissidents during Operation Sunrise.
The arrests led to widespread protests. At Nkhata Bay, about a thousand protestors had gathered near a ship that contained several prisoners. Guarded by only a handful of soldiers, the British lost control of the situation, opening fire on the crowd and killing at least 30 protestors. In total, 51 Malawians were killed, over 1,300 were detained, and many more were wounded during the state of emergency, which lasted until 1960.
Malawi gained its independence in July 1964 and the events of March 1959 are seen as big steps on that journey to nationhood. In his Martyrs day address of 1974, President Kamuza Banda said "March the 3rd was chosen as a day on which to remember and honour those of our people, who sacrificed their lives in order that we may be free, because what happened on that day, 3rd March 1959, resulted in independence. The independence that the country got in 1964 was a direct result of what happened on March the 3rd, 1959."
The day is marked by speeches by politicians and church services where Malawians can offer prayers for the departed freedom fighters.