By Evance Chisiano and Blessings Kaunda
Malawi Professor Peter Mutharika on Sunday presided over the 2019 Remembrance Sunday in Zomba where he led Malawians in paying tribute to fallen heroes of First and Second World Wars.
The occasion was also to honour those soldiers that died in line of duty in Mozambique, Rwanda, Ivory Coast and Democratic Republic of Congo in recent years.
The President, who is also Commander-in-Chief of Malawi Defence Force and Vice-President, Everton Chimulirenji attended the Remembrance Sunday at the War Memorial Tower at Cobbe Barracks in the city.
According to Malawi Defence Force, the Remembrance Sunday is set aside to pay tribute primarily to soldiers that died on duty in the two world wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45.
In addition, Malawians also paid tribute on this day to soldiers that died in line of duty during United Nations peace keeping missions in different countries.
After arriving at the War Memorial Tower in Zomba, The President stood on a salute dice to receive a presidential salute before the Malawi National Anthem was sang.
At 11 O’clock the congregation at the War Memorial Tower observed two minutes of silence as two maroons were sounded followed by the Last Post which is usually played to respect the fallen heroes.
Mutharika laid a wreath on the cenotaph in memory of soldiers that died and those that were wounded in the First World War from 1914 to 1918 and Second World War from 1939 to 1945.
Malawi Defence Force Commander General Vincent Nundwe, Acting Inspector General of Malawi Police Services, Duncan Mwapasa, Speaker of Malawi Parliament, Catherine Gotani HaraH Hara, Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda, Ken Zikhale Ng’oma and Chief Secretary to the Government, Lloyd Muhara laid their wreaths.
Others who laid their wreaths were representatives of Commonwealth, Ex Servicemen League of Malawi, representatives of war veterans and serving soldiers.
British High Commissioner Holy Tett, Zomba City Mayor, Councilor Benson Bula, representatives of Malawi Red Cross Society and St. John Ambulance Association also took their turns to lay their wreaths to honour the fallen heroes.
Rev. Henry Mtuma of the Blantyre CCAP, Blantyre Synod, Father Innocent Chiwanda of the Roman Catholic, Sheikh Abdul Raheem Masi of the Muslim Association of Malawi and Head of Chaplaincy at the Malawi Defence Force, Nowa Tsoka took turns through interdenominational prayers to acknowledge the labour and sacrifice of those that were wounded or died in the two world wars, other recent years’ combats and those that died in peace keeping missions, saying their devotion should inspire Malawians.
A four stanza hymn O God Our Help in Ages Past, Presidential salute and the National Anthem closed the Remembrance Sunday.
In Malawi, the War Memorial Service takes place every year in November in Zomba, Lilongwe and Mzuzu where people gather in cenotaphs to pay tribute to the fallen heroes.
In Mzuzu Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Symon Vuwa Kaunda, led Malawians in Northern Region on behalf of the country’s Head of State President Peter Mutharika, to commemorate the fallen heroes.
Malawi Defence Force, Malawi Police Service, top government officials, representatives of Non -Governmental Organizations and members of the diplomatic corps among other dignitaries gathered at Mzuzu Upper Stadium as they also watched a solemn parade conducted by the Malawi Defence Forces to remember the fallen soldiers.
The Remembrance Day, also known as the Poppy Day, is observed by the Commonwealth Nations and other nations in honour of those who lost their lives in the two World Wars.
Symon Vuwa Kaunda laid the first wreath followed by different dignitaries, including government officials, MDF, Malawi Police Service and representatives of NGOs, just to mention a few.
An estimated 30,000 Malawian soldiers participated in the two world wars battle fronts in different countries including Ethiopia, Madagascar, Burma and Japan, among others.
In an interview, Acting Leader of Opposition, Robin Lowe asked government to continue and fully support the war veterans.
In Central Region, Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Mary Navicha, represented the Head of State in leading Malawians to pay tribute to the fallen heroes in Area 18 at the War Memorial Tower.
At 11 o’clock on November 11, 1918, all guns were silent after a truce was made to end the First World War which involved over 65, 000 soldiers in combat.
Worldwide, over 10 million men died in line of duty while over 20 million were wounded in the 1914-1918 war.
In an interview with Malawi News Agency, a survivor of the Second World War, Moses Duncan said it was ideal to honour the fallen heroes and those wounded in the world wars.
Duncan fought as a combatant in the Second World War on the British side in Somaliland now Somalia against Italians from 1939 to 1941.
He commended Malawi Government and Commonwealth Ex Service League of Malawi for honouring ex-service men through the war memorial service.
“This is the most significant Remembrance Day of any other commemorations,” Duncan, who comes from Kam’baule Village, Traditional Authority Mlumbe in Zomba said.
He said the British joined the Americans from 1942 to 1945 to fight against the Japanese, which was a fierce fight that saw many Malawians and other nationals die in line of duty. He, therefore, called on Malawians to avoid actions that could bring instability and war, saying war disturbs peace.