History Of Malawi

Ruth Malikebu: The first Nyasaland Female Freedom Fighter.

Written by Inno Chanza.

When Emma Delany came to Nyasaland in 1901 to help John Chilembwe set up the PIM schools, she adopted two local kids which she was looking after. The two kids were Daniel and his little sister, she named Ruth after her grandmother in USA. Emma Delany educated Daniel and Ruth at PIM as her own.

When Emma was leaving Nyasaland, she had talked to John Chilembwe to take young Daniel Malikebu to America for education. That night they were leaving, Daniel Malikebu’s family blocked all the roads to prevent young Daniel leaving for America in 1905. Emma Delany left without young Daniel for America. In 1906, young Daniel sneaked out of Nyasaland for America with only Emma Delany’s address in America. There Delany sent him to school and qualified in 1919 as the first native Medical Doctor in Nyasaland.

His little sister, Ruth Malikebu stayed put in Nyasaland and continued her education at PIM under John Chilembwe. After the 1915 Uprising, government documents reveal Ruth Malikebu was the only female who was captured and locked at Zomba Maximum Prison in connection with the 1915 Uprising.

Emma Delany heard about Ruth’s arrest just before she died in 1922. Ruth Malikebu also called Ruth Lawrence was locked together with Andrew Mkulichi, Wallace Kampingo, James B Chattah Lawrence and Isaac Chambo. This group at Zomba Maximum Prison also called the “The Remnants of the Uprising” used to smuggle their letters through the guards sending them to Clement Kadalie in South Africa.

Andrew Mkulichi was Stephen Mkulichi’s younger brother, cousin of John Chilembwe.Most of their letters were forwarded to Marcus Garvey who published the letters in the UNIA papers. Ruth Malikebu was married to the controversial Issa Macdonald Lawrence who was a student of Marcus Garvey in Nyasaland. James B Chattah was a younger brother of Issa Lawrence Macdonald who was also a close friend of Clement Kadalie.

When Ruth Malikebu was released she was in the team that pushed the govt to reopen the PIM. Her brother, Dr Daniel Malikebu returned to reopen the PIM in 1926 after the government agreed the reopening of PIM. Her husband Issa Lawrence Macdonald was the first Treasurer General of Nyasaland African Congress in 1944.

Dr Banda was reluctant to fund Nyasaland African Congress after the demise of Levi Mumba and Issa Lawrence Macdonald, he trusted. For the history of Ruth Malikebu aka Ruth Lawrence of Nyasaland, see the literature of Marcus Garvey on African Freedom Fighters, Clement Kadalie and the Colonial Office on the last captives of 1915 Nyasaland Uprising.

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