WHEN the seven caskets of accident victims were rolled in the imposing Blessing Centre, even the house of worship looked to be too small. It was not a mass funeral, but seven deaths within a family, it looked like one.
Speaker after speaker, they all talked about the comfort of knowing that the seven all died as Christians, and the Bread of Life overseer Bishop Joe Imakando titled his message, The Blessing of dying in the Lord.
But when it came to body-viewing, the emotions were too much to hold; First Lady Esther Lungu was the first to break down. It was a pattern followed by most mourners throughout the period of body-viewing.
It was not always like that during the funeral service for Paddy Mutwale, 66, his wife Catherine Mutwale, 61, their son, Nkandu Mutwale, 35, daughter Dr Ngosa Mutwale, 32, her nephew Jipesho Mutwale, three, and Janet Shamenda-Sikwaze, 33, and her daughter Theodore Nakawala, two, at the Bread of Life Blessing Centre in Lusaka’s Emmasdale yesterday.
The seven died in a road traffic accident in Kapiri Mposhi on Sunday when they were travelling to Lusaka from Ndola where they had been attending a wedding.
There requiem service yesterday was a celebration of lives; lives lived diligently by the seven including the two under-five children. But it was perhaps only during the body viewing that it dawned on most that these were lives lost, and departed in a cruel manner for that matter.
Paddy, an agriculturist by profession who had settled in Lusaka’s Makeni area where he was doing farming.
Paddy was praised for his contributions in the Bread of Life church where he was an elder and actively participated in marriage counselling.
He had moved to Bread of Life from Lubu Baptist Church in Longacres, now renamed Lusaka Baptist Church where in 1979 he had married his wife, whose Christian life started at Mukinge girls when she was not even a teen.
Even at Mukinge, where she used to accompany missionaries for evangelism, Catherine, a health practitioner by profession, left an impact. At the funeral service, a choir from Mukinge sang a special hymn dedicated to her.
Their son, Nkandu, was praised for his dedication to church as well as work at MultiChoice Zambia.
MultiChoice Zambia acting general manager Ngoza Kasunga-Matakala, said ever since they heard of the accident in Kapiri Mposhi on Sunday, they have been trying to come to terms with the tragic event.
“On Sunday, most of us could not sleep until 01:00 hours, just trying to comprehend what had happened. He was an exceptional member of staff, humble but result-oriented,” Mr Ngoza Kasunga-Matakala said.
Nkandu, who had studied business administration at the University of Namibia (UNAM), only recently engaged Florence Mkandawire and should have tied the knot in June next year.
His sister Ngosa, who trained as a medical doctor in Ukraine, was waiting for a posting from the Ministry of Health having passed the required examinations. She was praised for her dedication to the children’s ministry in church.
Janet’s mother only recently lost her husband, and now, her only child. The First Lady was officiating at a function last Sunday that was organised by Bread of Life, and she was asked when she would be visiting the church.
“Was this the day that was designated for me to visit?” she asked when she was called upon to speak by Bishop Imakando.
“It’s only God who knows our first and last day,” the bishop concluded. [Daily Mail Zambia]