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Martyrs' Day

Martyrs’ Day 2024, 2025 and 2026 in Malawi

Every 3 March is Martyrs’ Day in Malawi to honour the memory of those who died in the struggle to secure Malawi’s independence from the British Empire. The date is based on an uprising against British rule that took place on 3 March, 1959.

20243 MarSunMartyrs' Day
4 MarMonMartyrs' Day Holiday
20253 MarMonMartyrs' Day
20263 MarTueMartyrs' Day
Please scroll down to end of page for previous years' dates.

What is now Malawi was called Nyasaland while a British colony. The area had been annexed by Britain in the mid-1800’s, but by the early 1900’s, an independence movement had already sprang up.

During the 1950’s, the push for independence intensified. Supposing it would make management of their African colonies easier, Britain combined Nyasaland (Malawi) with Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) as “The Central African Federation”. This, however, proved wildly unpopular and led to an uprising in Malawi.

On 3 March 1959, Hastings Banda, a leader in the Central African Federation, started a protest that quickly became a revolt. The British declared an emergency and began making arrests. They put many independence leaders in jail, and over 50 protesters lost their lives.

Independence was not achieved until 6 July 1964, but the events that Martyrs’ Day commemorates were pivotal to the independence movement’s ultimate success.

Every Martyrs’ Day, many in political office give patriotic speeches, and the president and others take part in ceremonial wreath laying events at various memorials to the martyrs of 3 March 1959, and of the whole independence struggle. Many people attend special church services on this day as well, and there is always special “tribute music” played on local radio stations.

Previous Years

20233 MarFriMartyrs' Day
20223 MarThuMartyrs' Day
20213 MarWedMartyrs' Day
20203 MarTueMartyrs' Day
20193 MarSunMartyrs' Day
4 MarMonMartyrs' Day Holiday
20183 MarSatMartyrs' Day
5 MarMonMartyrs' Day Holiday
20173 MarFriMartyrs' Day