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Malawi’s independence hero celebrated on fourth plinth

A statue of Malawi’s independence hero, the Baptist minister, John Chilembwe, has been chosen for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, a location once celebrated as representing the might and glory of the British empire. The competition, initiated in 1999 to install new temporary work on the empty plinth, has been embraced by the artist, Samson Kambalu, as a chance to further critique the old narratives of a space dominated by Nelson’s column. Speaking of his personal excitement about being chosen as the next artist on the plinth in 2022, the Malawi-born Kambalu said the decision was ‘like a litmus test for how much I belong in British society as an African, a cosmopolitan.’ In Kambalu’s ‘New Liberia’, an exhibition reviewed recently on WritersMosaic, Chilembwe’s importance, at the head of an insurrection against the British colonial rule in 1915, was also centre stage.

Photo by Mark Blower