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The First Statue of an African Displayed in Trafalgar Square

A new statue has been unveiled in central London’s historic Trafalgar Square. But this time, it is not a monument to one of the UK’s war heroes or kings. Instead it will be a larger-than-life statue of Malawian Baptist preacher and pan-Africanist John Chilembwe, who fought against British colonial rule. The sculpture, named Antelope, will be the square’s newest Fourth Plinth – which is regarded as one of the world’s most famous public art commissions. Since 2003, the Fourth Plinth has been showcasing different pieces of artwork every two years. While it was originally intended to display a statue of King William IV, it remained empty due to insufficient funds and now exhibits temporary art, selected through public consultation and the commissioning group. Chilembwe’s five-metre statue will mark the first of an African in Trafalgar Square. Cast in bronze, Antelope restages a famous photograph taken in 1914 of Chilembwe standing next to British missionary John Chorley, outside his church in Mbombwe village in southern Malawi.