History Of Malawi


Louis Nthenda (far left) with Malcolm X

LOIUS NTHENDA is probably the only Malawian to have physically interacted with Malcolm X. You can see on the photo Louis Nthenda (far left) with Malcolm X at Oxford University in December 1964.

Because Louis Nthenda was in exile, he was taken to be a Zambian.

On Monday 5th October 1964, Malcolm X flew from Addis to Nairobi and sojourned at the New Stanley hotel, he was due the following day to meet President Jomo Kenyatta before travelling to Zanzibar.

At dinner he met and chat with a young African man who did not seem to recognise him initially.

This young African man was a Malawian called Louis Nthenda who was on his way to Oxford University.

This is how Malcolm X and Louis described their meeting at dinner, that evening in Nairobi in 1964 .

“Met Louis Nthenda of Zambia at dinner. He was on his way to England (Oxford) and was very surprised upon learning who I was. Had studied the BMM and was talking to me about EM & myself without even recognizing me.” – Malcolm X, Personal Diaries, Mon 5th October, 1964.

“I was sitting in the Hotel’s Thorn Tree Restaurant that evening when I noticed one other person who looked like me although he could pass in the South Africa of those days for “coloured” or, with a little more grooming, for white. I moved over and once we established who he was the conversation veered to the Black Muslims (BMM) and their leader Elijah Muhammad (EM) who, the year before, had expelled Malcolm X from the Nation of Islam. All this background I knew. I didn’t think much of BMM’s version of Islam and I said as much. I don’t think Malcolm liked my tone of frankly criticising the hotchpotch of BMM’s Islamic theology – although I am sure it resonated with him – and he didn’t fault my factual knowledge. On his part he was more interested in African politics and asked a lot of questions.

Among my fellow students and within the nationalist movements of Southern Africa we were experiencing similar divides as American blacks with regard to our oppressors. Malcolm had a greater following in my youthful circles than Martin Luther King because he presented a clearer dichotomy of black movements that was familiar. […]

In the course of the conversation I told him I intended to be a member of the Oxford Union immediately upon my arrival and I would love to arrange for him to come to take part in a debate. He accepted my invitation. He gave me his contact phone number and address in New York. He said he was going to be on the road for the rest of the year but messages would be relayed to him.”- Louis Nthenda, 1964: A Personal Memoir.

Source : Africa Society at Oxford University

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