The outbreak of war between the European powers seems like an opportunity for some of their African subjects who hope for freedom from the white man’s yoke. In Nyasaland one John Chilembwe leads a revolt against the British. He is a religious preacher and is motivated by a mixture of nationalism and Christian anti-colonialism. His followers are relatively few, mostly recruited through churches operating independently of British oversight. Chilembwe hopes that if a blow is struck against the British then the people of Nyasaland will rise up. He also seeks aid from German East Africa.
Chilembwe’s men attack a British plantation at Magomero, near Blantyre, killing the manager and two other British members of staff (but leaving women and children physically unharmed). The rebels also seize firearms and cut telegraph lines to delay news of their action reaching the British authorities. But the Nyasaland rebellion is still-born; the people of the colony do not rally to the rebellion and no help is forthcoming from German East Africa.