There were sombre faces at Chanache Chapel in Blantyre yesterday when people from all walks of life came to bid farewell to Sam Mpasu, one of the country’s politicians who fought for multiparty democracy.
Cars littered both sides of the road leading to Chanache mortuary—from the junction of the main road passing through Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital.
Outside the chapel, Gomani Ngonis dressed in their military regalia, stomped in the sun, perspiration shining on their foreheads while clutching clubs and shields, as if wrestling mighty death himself in vengeance for snatching one of their men.
As dirges, escaping from the lips of the dancers filled the air, some people were paying their last respects to Mpasu in the chapel. And it was only by sheer luck that a stampede was avoided as the chapel was too small to accommodate everyone who had come.
Inside the chapel, Mpasu’s hard wood casket lay in state; its lid draped by an animal skin, permanently sealing his identity as a Ngoni.
While the atmosphere grew gloomy by each passing minute, Reverend Wyclef Chimwendo rose to offer an opening prayer that ushered Bishop Joseph Mbewe to deliver a sermon before some dignitaries spoke.
Representing all political parties outside Parliament, Malawi Forum for Democracy (Mafunde) president George Nnesa appreciated government for according Mpasu a State funeral. He, however, lamented that such decision was made a little late.
“Government should have come in early. For example, this place [Chanache chapel] is too small to accommodate thousands of people who came to attend the service here in Blantyre,” said Nnesa.
He suggested that government should have offered a bigger hall for the people of Blantyre to pay their last respects to Mpasu.
On his part, long-time friend Humphrey Mvula said Mpasu was a fearless fighter and champion of social justice.
“Even at his death, Mpasu had always wanted a better life for the majority of Malawians,” he said.
Mpasu’s son John said the family had lost a pillar.
“We are saddened by his death. He was a pillar to the family,” he said.
And at exactly 1pm, Mpasu’s casket was taken out of the chapel into the hearse, ready for his body’s last mile to its final resting place at Khuzi Village, in Senior Chief Kwataine’s area in Ntcheu today. n