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Mutharika leads Malawians in paying homage to war heroes on Remembrance Day

Written by  Felix Mponda

Malawian President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika on Sunday led Malawians in paying homage to fallen heroes who died or were wounded fighting in the First and Second world wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45 and other recent war campaigns, at a solemn ceremony held at the historic Zomba War Memorial Tower.

President Mutharika, who is Commander-In-Chief of the MDF, lays a wreath at the Zomba memorial tower. Pix by Abel Ikiloni, Mana. President Mutharika, who is Commander-In-Chief of the MDF, lays a wreath at the Zomba memorial tower. Pix by Abel Ikiloni, Mana.
10
November

Watched by multitudes of people and dignitaries including Vice President Everton Chimulirenji, Mutharika at exactly 11.09 am was the first to lay a wreath at the tower, after mounting 15 red-carpeted steps leading to the tower.

 

About a dozen war veterans, who are housed at the Memorial Home within Cobbey Barracks in Zomba, watched the ceremony, including veteran rifleman Rodney Makandanji, in his late 80s,  who fought in Malaya, now Malaysia during the Second World War, and Lance corporal Frank Masache, who was involved in peacekeeping mission in Mozambique.

 

A similar occasion will be  observed on 11 November or a Sunday nearest to 11 November at 11am in 54 Commonwealth countries, as in 1918 on this day, World War 1 hostilities formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

 

“As a mark of respect to those who died and suffered, people all over the world are encouraged to stop what they are doing at 11 am on 11 November every year to observe one minute’s silence and reflect on the loss and suffering caused by war,” Paul Chiphwanya, Malawi Defence Force (MDF) spokesman, who was the master of ceremonies at the function, narrated.


The World War 1 or the Great War, was a global war centred in Eurpe that begun on July 29, 1914 and lasted until November 1918. The war enlisted 10 million combatants and over 7 million civilians died, according to history.

 

WW11 broke out after decades of the WWI., involving the majority of the world's nations and was the most widespread war in history. Pitting 100 million from over 30 countries, it is estimated that over 50 million people were killed , making it the deadliest conflict in human history.

 

Malawi, formally known as Nyasaland and a British protectorate around the time of the War, was heavily involved in the WW11, with some 19,000 Nyasaland soldiers who served in the King’s African Rifles (KAR) during the Second World War. Many of these were engaged in the East Africa campaign against the Germans in German East Africa now Tanzania.

 

ORIGIN OF MOYALE BARRACKS

 

Chiphwanya said Nyasaland troops fought in a number of theatres, including the East African campaign with the 1st battalion of the KAR successfully defending the Kenyan town of Moyale where 100 soldiers from Nyasaland held out against 3,000 Italians.

 

Moyale Barracks in Mzuzu is named after the Kenyan town to honour the Nyasaland troops who fought at Moyale.


Other battles the Nyasaland troops include the Somaliland campaign in 1940, the Abyssinia campaign in 1941 and the battle of Madagascar in 1942, where Nyasaland troops participated in the battle to capture the island of Madagascar from France, the battle of Burma in 1944, opposing the empire of Japan.

 

Chiphwanya said Remembrance Day was also to honour Malawian soldiers who died and those who are still alive but fought in various campaigns, including the protection of the Nacala railway line in Mozambique, peacekeeping missions in the Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).


Among dignitaries who laid wreaths were MDF Commander Vincent Nundwe and Inspector General of Police Duncan Mwapasa, Speaker of National Assembly Catherine Gotani Hara, MCP lawmaker Ken Zikhale Ng’oma who represented leader of Opposition, British high commissioner Holy Tett.


PRAYERS FOR PEACE

 

Clergy from Christian and Moslem denominations prayed and hailed the fallen heroes for their courage, endurance and suffering in preserving peace.

 

They prayed that peace should rein in Malawi, saying despite differences in religion and origin, Malawians should celebrate their diversity with grace and dignity.


“We should never see the flame of war,” one cleric said.

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