Malawi’s anti-colonial preacher and Pan-Africanist, John Chilembwe will stand over London’s Trafalgar Square as a “powerful statement of anti-colonial resistance.” The mayor’s office revealed this in a statement.
The ‘giant’ statue called ‘Antelope,’ designed by renowned professor, Samson Kambalu won by popular votes among a set of six competitive statues proposed to occupy the space. The design will be displayed in the year 2022. “We strongly support ‘Antelope’ as an occupant of the fourth plinth,” the mayor’s office said.
Trafalgar is known to host numerous statues and memorials designed to celebrate British colonial power; the choice of John Chilembwe, a key figure in the history of Nyasaland, known now as Malawi is a perfect fit to deal with the overly amplified colonial sentiment at the square.
David Hope-Jones, Chief Executive of the Scotland-Malawi Partnership best described it as a “powerful, practical and constructive expression of all we have been talking about around Black Lives Matter,” adding that, it is fulfilling to see “an inspiring Malawian artist to be commissioned to make an inspiring statue of an inspiring Malawian freedom fighter which will sit alongside, and size up to, the many expressions of imperial power in the heart of London.”
Very significant of the statute is the message it sends across; the structure shows the anti-colonial preacher as a giant figure in hat with a relatively small scaled statue of European missionary, John Chorley, standing right in front of him.
Popular in colonial history, subjects were mostly expected to remove their hats any time they come into contact with colonialists. This practice was very dominant in Malawi. They were made to remove their head-wears when passing by or in the presence of a European.
According to the Mayor’s statement, the above described “courtesy was seldom acknowledged or returned by a European, hence the justified outrage.” The recognition was in line with the numerous unfavorable post-colonial reactions to this disreputable rule; a considerable percentage of critics perceived the rule as highly “demeaning.”