On 23 January 1915, a native rebellion broke out in the British Protectorate of Nyasaland, the future nation-state of Malawi. The leader of the uprising was a black Baptist priest by the name of John Chilembwe. The John Chilembwe Uprising has generally been credited with setting in motion the modern African liberation movement.
The winter of 1915 found Sir Harry Johnston in state of semi-retirement in his country home of Saint John’s Priory, nestled in the picturesque West Sussex Village of Poling. Preoccupied with his two-volume treatise on the Bantu languages of Africa, he was well provided for in both funds and life experience to justify a comfortable immersion in such academic and literary pursuits. In 1896, in recognition of his services to the British Empire, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, and later, the Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George. To this, at the turn of the century, was added an honorary doctorate from the University of Cambridge, and gold medals from both the Royal and the Royal Scottish Geographical Societies.