Deaths that shook us in 2013

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela

DEATH is something guaranteed for every human. However, the irony is; however often it occurs, human beings never get used to it.

Whenever it happens, people plunge in sorrow and mourning of loved ones, friends and relatives.

Death remains a common denominator for all, rich or poor, strong or weak and so forth.

As long as there is life, it remains a constant phenomenon. And yes, 2013, has had plenty of deaths.

A number of prominent and non prominent figures crossed over to the other side of the world.

The most prominent of all also happened last. It is the death that brought the world to a standstill. It was that of global icon Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding president of democracy in South Africa, who died at the ripe age of 95.

Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nelson Mandela died on December 5 at his home in Johannesburg. He was accorded a national mourning period of more than a week before he was finally put to rest.

Over a 100 heads of state attended his funeral at Johannesburg’s FNB station.

From the moment South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, announced the sad news, the news went viral on Internet and television stations, radio and newspapers captured every single moment for over a week.

“Nothing can diminish our sense of the profound loss. His entire struggle for freedom gained him the respect of the world. His humility, his compassion and his humanity, our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family. To them we owe a debt of gratitude. They have sacrificed much so that our people could be free.” said Mr Zuma of the former South African president an anti-Apartheid activist, who was imprisoned for 27 years after being convicted of sabotage and conspiring to over-throw the government. When he was freed at age 75, he was overwhelmingly democratically elected as South Africa’s first black President. And it proved to the world that fighting for peace and equality is a necessity, no matter the consequences.

He was buried in his birth village Qunu, in Eastern Cape.

On the Zambian scene, a number of prominent people died.

Crispin Sibetta that sharp debater, hard and straight talking former Luena constituency Member of Parliament, was another victim of death.

The man served as Luena MP for 20 years without relenting in his fight for justice, accountability, and good governance blending humour and hard-hitting words in his debates.

Mr Sibetta, who died at 71, was opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) vice-chairperson.

Mr Sibetta served as minister of State in the UNIP administration before he contested the Luena seat as an independent candidate in 1991.

In Luena constituency, he served as independent MP for 15 years before he reclaimed his seat on the UPND ticket in 2001 and continued with his demands for good governance.

Benjamin Yoram Mwila, who was widely known as BY was a prominent Zambia politician and businessman. He was a prominent leader and co-founder of the former Zambia Republican Party. The former, Defence Minister died at the age 70, in South Africa on August 17, 2013.

He was one of the founders and financiers of the MMD and he became Defence Minister in 1991 the position he held for seven years, the longest to have served in that position. He was an uncle to the late Second Republican President Frederick Chiluba.

Kennedy Sakeni, the minister on Information and Broadcasting, was yet another leading figure that died in the 2013. Mr Sakeni who was also Mansa Central Member of Parliament was born on January 1, 1957 died on the September 1 in the University Teaching Hospital (UTH).

Zambians also mourned the death of Medardo Joseph Mazombwe who was a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He was the former Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lusaka and Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Chipata.

He was an ardent campaigner for Zambia’s debt cancellation in the mid-1980s, through the Jubilee movement campaign and spearheaded several new developmental projects in many parts of the country including the Mumpanshya area of Chongwe.

Dominic Mulaisho, the former Bank of Zambia governor answered the call of death.

A devoted patriot, gifted thinker and intellectual who rendered selfless service to Zambia are some of the attributes of former Bank of Zambia Governor Dominic Chola Mulaisho, who died on July 1, 2013, at the age of 80 in Lusaka.Some of his contemporaries like former Republican vice-president Enoch Kavindele, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda, Elias Chipimo Senior, Sebastian Saizi Zulu, and Rodger Chongwe can attest to these rare attributes. Mr Mulaisho, born on August 15, 1933 happened to be a prolific writer too.

The field of journalisms also saw the death of one its own, Kangwe Mulenga and prominent Evelyn Hone lecture Mutemwa Makomani.

Not to forget the Deputy Health Minister Patrick Chikusu who died late in the year. The Katuba, Member of Parliament (MP) died in South Africa.

Former Prisons Commissioner Jethro Mumbuwa also met his death as months kept fading away.

Several chiefs also died in the year as well.

On the international front several figures, who registered their mark in history like Nigerian laureate Chinua Achebe, made famous by his all-time classic novel Things Fall Apart, died.

Born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe; 16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013) he was a novelist, poet, professor and critic.

Things Fall Apart

set him apart and the book happens to be the most widely read literature in English Book in Africa.

The founding father of African fiction whose novels chronicled Nigeria’s troubled history shaped the course of literature and was a respected figure around the world.

Iron Lady, Madam Margaret Thatcher, the former first and only woman British Prime Minister died early in the year. Born on October 13, 1925, in Grantham, England, Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s Conservative Party leader and in 1979 was elected prime minister, the first woman to hold the position.

During her three terms, she cut social welfare programmes, reduced trade union power and privatized certain industries.

Thatcher resigned in 1991 due to unpopular policy and power struggles in her party. She died on April 8, 2013, at age 87.

Socialist showman and theatrical Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan leaders died after a long battle with cancer.

The populist leader of Venezuela – a charismatic hero to the poor who denounced capitalism. Venezuela would, he claimed, play a vital role in saving the planet from the evils of capitalism. In a notorious speech to the UN general assembly in 2006, he called former US president George W Bush “the devil”, claiming the podium still smelled of sulphur.

On Christian front, Paul Franklin Crouch, the pioneer of Christian television also died.

Crouch was an American religious broadcaster who, along with his wife Jan, co-founded the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), a worldwide ministry.

He died of heart failure at age 79. Forty years ago, he founded the Trinity Broadcasting Network, now America country’s most successful religious TV enterprise

Ultimately, when it come to life and death, As Leadership guru Myles Munroe often says, it is not the number of years one lives that counts but the life lived in those years.

History is simply recorded change. Some people stand out in history maybe because they showed up at the right place and time.

All have an opportunity to make a difference (big or small) and history has enough room to record it too.

The question of privilege might not be a good excuse.

Times of Zambia