In the storied Trafalgar Square in the heart of London, a new statue has been unveiled.
But this time, it is neither a memorial to a British monarch nor a war hero. Instead, a massive statue of John Chilembwe, a pan-Africanist and Malawian Baptist preacher who campaigned against British colonial control, will stand in its place.
Antelope, a sculpture, will be the newest addition to the Fourth Plinth in the square, which is one of the most well-known public art commissions in the entire world.
Every two years since 2003, the Fourth Plinth has featured a different work of art. Due to a lack of funding, it was initially supposed to house a statue of King William IV, but it has since been left vacant and is currently home to temporary artwork chosen by the commissioning committee and the general public.
The five-meter monument of Chilembwe will be the first representation of an African in Trafalgar Square.
Antelope, a bronze statue, recreates the famous portrait of Chilembwe and British missionary John Chorley taken in 1914 outside Chorley’s church in the southern Malawian settlement of Mbombwe.
Chilembwe, who led an insurrection against the British in Malawi (formerly Nyasaland) in 1915, is regarded as one of the first Africans to combat colonial injustices in the 20th century.
Even though the revolt was brief, his efforts had an impact on the entire continent and beyond.
Marcus Garvey, a political leader from Jamaica, and John Langalibalele Dube, the founding president of the organization that would later become the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa, are two figures of black liberation who are thought to have been influenced by Chilembwe.