About 300 Catholics gathered in Karonga yesterday to remember Bishop Joseph Mukasa Zuza who died in a car crash near Nthungwa in Chikangawa Forest two years ago.
The crowd at the newly opened St Joseph the Worker Cathedral of Karonga Diocese could be just about a third of the attendance at the inaugural memorial mass last year.
But the faithful on the northern tip of the country still fondly remembered the bishop who openly warned former president Bingu wa Mutharika against arrogance.
A reporter of the diocese’s Tuntufye FM Radio Station, who attended the annual remembrance, said there were subtle mentions of the historic moment of truth at Comesa Hall in Blantyre where Zuza used national prayers for peace to tell the then sitting president that a person who considers himself wise is actually a fool or chindele chakufikapo.
Instead, Monsignor Dennis Chitete eulogised the deceased as the father and founder of Karonga Diocese.
Bishop Martin Mtumbuka’s vicar general said they will continue remembering Zuza because Karonga Diocese would not have come into being if he did not consent to Vatican’s proposal to split the Diocese of Mzuzu, which he led until his death on January 15 2015.
“He was like a parent of Karonga Diocese,” said Chitete. “If he had refused to divide his diocese, there would have been no Diocese of Karonga today,” he said.
Created by retired Pope Benedict XIV in 2011, the newest diocese in the country comprises Karonga and Chitipa districts as well the northern third of Rumphi.
Zuza was driving from his home in Muhlafuta Village on the south-western part of Mzimba when his Toyota Hilux front tyre burst and the vehicle overturned several times.
Rescuers found him lying in agony by the roadside and they rushed him to Mzuzu where he died at St John’s Hospital after receiving emergency treatment at Mzuzu Central Hospital.
Bishop Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese last year told his congregation that Zuza’s death was a call for Christians to always mind their relationship with God because nobody knows when death will happen.
He described Zuza as a calm person and a peacemaker who did not shy away from speaking against wrongdoing when the situation needed him to do so.
But most importantly, he said Zuza was a dedicated servant of God who did a tremendous job to bring souls to Christ.
Zuza died aged 59, having served as a bishop for 20 years, since May 1995.n