The claims for compensation made by family members and some stakeholders for the victims of the March 3 1959 massacre in Nkhata Bay are certainly in order.
Innocent souls were indeed needlessly lost at the hands of federal forces as people of this country struggled for their emancipation.
Further, whenever or wherever reckless use of force occurs and trampling of human rights takes place in contemporary history, the situation turns the arrows of time back to an ugly chapter in human civilisation as well as progress.
This is why such sad debates do not look good at all.
And in the case of the Nkhata Bay (and pre-independence Malawi) massacres, University of Malawi’s associate professor of Law Edge Kanyongolo puts the matters well—challenges abound in the reparation dialogue. Claims or statements face a lot of legal obstacles, for example, poor record keeping and deaths of witnesses.
Further, not every situation is the same. Thus, the Nyasaland situation must be carefully studied in comparison with what happened in Kenya, knowing that the soldiers that went to Nkhata Bay belonged to the Federal Government of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, a jurisdiction not directly under London.
True, the masters that formed the federation originated from London, which is why the families of the Nkhata Bay/Malawi victims are looking towards London.
It is, however, our belief that all parties concerned will handle the issue carefully and diplomatically as noted by the spokespersons of Lilongwe and Britain.
In the end, a lot is indeed at stake given the age-old relations between the two countries; hence, our view is that no individual or single interest group should hijack the process for ulterior motives.
Let dialogue to prevail.