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Samson Kambalu wins Fourth Plinth commission

Samson Kambalu, Professor of Fine Art at Ruskin School of Art, has won a commission for a place on the ‘fourth plinth’ in Trafalgar Square with his powerful sculpture, Antelope, depicting the pan-Africanist Malawian preacher, John Chilembwe.

Antelope by Samson Kambalu

Antelope restages a photograph of Baptist preacher and pan-Africanist (belief in a unified African nation) John Chilembwe and European missionary John Chorley as a sculpture.

The photograph was taken in 1914 at the opening of Chilembwe’s new church in Nyasaland, now Malawi. Chilembwe has his hat on, defying the colonial rule that forbade Africans from wearing hats in front of white people. A year later, he led an uprising against colonial rule. Chilembwe was killed and his church, which had taken years to build, was destroyed by the colonial police.

On the plinth, Chilembwe is larger than life, while Chorley is life-size. By increasing his scale, the artist elevates Chilembwe and his story, revealing the hidden narratives of underrepresented peoples in the history of the British Empire in Africa, and beyond.


Samson Kambalu with Justine Simons, the Deputy Mayor of Culture and the Antelope maquette at the National Gallery.