History Of Malawi

James Chuma and Abdallah Susi

Written by Inno Chanza

The spirit of Nyasaland that carried Dr David Livingstone’s body to England.

At Ujiji Henry Molton Stanley was welcomed by a native who spoke fine English… “Sir May I help you”.

Henry was looking for Dr David Livingstone and the young boy welcoming him was James Chuma… his trusted servant from Nyasaland.

James Chuma, Tom Bokwito and others were Nyasaland boys who were rescued at Mpemba near Blantyre by Dr David Livingstone, Bishop Mackenzie, Sir John Kirk and the UMCA missionaries from slave traders.

James Chuma as a young boy with Tom Bokwito were taken by the missionaries to Magomero in 1861.

Among these freed slaves at Magomero in 1861 was the young mang’anja princess Nyangu, who was to give birth 9 years later to John Chilembwe after UMCA abandoned Magomero.

James Chuma was born in 1850 in Nyasland and 17 July 1861 was the day he was released from slavery at Mpemba.

James Chuma in 1864 sailed to India with Dr Livingstone on Lady Nyassa to pursue studies…. and Dr Livingstone returned to England.

Tom Bokwito also had left Magomero with another missionary for Lovedale, South Africa for studies.

Bokwito was to return to Nyasaland in 1874 to find Blantyre with the Church of Scotland.

Meanwhile, Chuma spent 1864-1865 at Dr Wilson’s school, Bombay, India.

In August 1865 Dr Livingstone returned to Bombay this time he brought with him Abdullah Susi, another Yao worker he employed at Shupanga in Mocambique.

Chuma and Susi stayed together in Bombay studying and they returned to Zanzibar in January 1866.


In 1866 -1873 they travelled with Dr Livingstone’s on his last journeys.


Chuma and Susi embalmed Dr Livingstone’s body with Salt and Whisky and dried it on the sun,,, a skill they learnt in India. They then carried Livingstone’s body from Chitambos Village in Zambia to the coast in Zanzibar.

In 1874 Chuma arrived in England through the expense of Dr Livingstone’s friend, James Young.

James Chuma visited Livingstone’s
family and his account of the Livingstone’s final days are edited by Horace Waller, who also accompanied
him to the Royal Geographical Society
June 1874 to receive his bronze medal with Abdullah Susi.

Chuma and Susi went back to Africa and rejoined the UMCA and were posted to Zanzibar.

At Zanzibar, Chuma was selected to be caravan leader from 1879 to 1880.

At Zanzibar the UMCA baptised Susi and gave him a christian name David in honour of their master.

James Chuma died in1882.

Ladies and gents…in the pic our own Nyasa… James Chuma and Abdallah ‘David’ Susi with their weapons as trusted workers of Dr David Livingstone…..and on the other… Chuma and Susi in Scotland visiting the Livingstones family.

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