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The current branch facilities in Lilongwe, Malawi. Insets (clockwise from top left): Brother Bill McLuckie, the first branch servant in Malawi; Authorities seizing the branch office in 1967; A sister joyfully engaging in the preaching work today

DECEMBER 28, 2023

First Branch Office Established in Malawi 75 Years Ago

A History of Remarkable Resilience

First Branch Office Established in Malawi 75 Years Ago

The year 2023 marks 75 years since a branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses was first established in Malawi in the city of Blantyre in 1948.

Prior to this, the South Africa branch coordinated the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Malawi. Beginning in the 1930’s, the number of brothers and sisters serving in Malawi grew steadily from just 28 in 1934 to over 5,600 in 1948. As the number of Witnesses increased, the first branch office was opened in a small rented apartment in Blantyre on September 1, 1948. This office remained operational until a new Bethel facility was constructed nearby in 1958.

Left: Chichewa and Chitumbuka translators posing outside the branch office built in Malawi in 1958. Among them is Baston Nyirenda (circled), who presently serves as a member of the Malawi Branch Committee. Right: Baston, aged 80, and his wife, Violet, today

Less than ten years later, in October 1967, the authorities in Malawi placed a ban on the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses. As a result, the branch office was confiscated. Despite this, responsible brothers in Malawi continued to organize the preaching work and care for fellow believers throughout the country. For the nearly 26 years that followed, the position of Christian neutrality taken by Jehovah’s Witnesses resulted in horrific persecution and unspeakable acts of violence. During this period, our brothers and sisters were imprisoned, tortured, and even murdered. Some brothers and sisters chose to flee to nearby countries, including Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Brothers and sisters translating Bible-based materials into Chichewa

On August 12, 1993, the ban was finally lifted. For the next two years, the brothers in Zambia, who cared for the work in Malawi for some years during the ban, helped to organize the work. Then, our brothers purchased two houses in the city of Lilongwe to serve as the new Malawi branch office. In 1994, the Governing Body approved plans to locate a suitable property on which to construct a new Bethel facility in the country. At the dedication of these branch facilities on May 19, 2001, more than 2,000 brothers and sisters attended the program, many of whom had loyally endured decades of persecution. Brother Trophim Nsomba, who served as a circuit overseer during the ban, was among those who attended the dedication program. Reflecting on the new branch facilities as well as the spiritual growth in Malawi, Brother Nsomba said: “These blessings from Jehovah are so enriching spiritually that to [my wife] and me, it almost seems like a dream!”

Today, there are 1,924 congregations in Malawi with over 109,000 brothers and sisters. This includes the 225 serving at the Malawi branch in Lilongwe, where they care for the work of translating Bible literature into seven languages.

Some of the 109,000 brothers and sisters faithfully serving Jehovah in Malawi today

We pray that Jehovah will continue to bless our dear brothers and sisters in Malawi who have recommended themselves as ministers by their endurance for many decades.—2 Corinthians 6:4.