Chilima’s last mile

Nsipe Catholic Ground in Ntcheu hosted the last funeral ceremony of the late Vice President Saulos Chilima which pulled crowds from different backgrounds who travelled far and wide to bid farewell to the former business executive cum politician.

The ceremony came against a background of overnight violence which left four people dead and 12 injured after some people attacked his funeral convoy coming from Lilongwe to Ntcheu on Sunday.

Calls for an independent investigation into Monday’s June 10 air crash which killed Chilima and eight others have intensified to establish what led to the unfortunate incident.

On Monday 17th June, there was heavy security presence with the deployment of officers from the Malawi Police service and Malawi Defence Force (MDF) in the area.

The arrival of immediate past President Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) at Nsipe was welcomed with a standing ovation by UTM officials as they cheered him chanting “A Daddy a Daddy!” The same was repeated as he laid his wreath on Chilima’s final resting place.

Former President Peter and his wife Gertrude

This was in sharp contrast to President Lazarus Chakwera’s convoy which was greeted by chants from the Ngoni’s who sang “A Bhiyeni munaphera dala dzikoli mukhale nalo” as it sped through them to the venue.

In her eulogy, a representative the bereaved family, Elizabeth Mkandawire Mwanga described the Late Vice President, as a happy, loving and charitable man, who was poised to come a global leader.

She hailed the international community, Malawi government and church community for honouring him.

“Allow me to thank United Transformation Movement (UTM) for the support rendered during the mourning period and thanks to chiefs for the love. I would like to thank the people of Malawi for the gesture during the mourning period.

“I would like appeal to government to conduct the investigation to establish the truth and that such a tragedy should not happen again. Let me appeal to the Nation to keep the Chilima dream alive and not to give up hope so that his dreams become a reality. Osaopa, osatopa, osafooka,”Mwanga said.

APM and Chakwera greet each other at Chilima’s burial service

Another representative Dr. Ben Chilima acknowledged the presence of former Presidents Bakili Muluzi, Joyce Banda and Peter Mutharika.

He wished it was possible to wake up from this dream nightmare of the demise of their relative.

He further asked if it is possible to have a memorial right at the accident crash site at Chikangawa in future. “Kodi nkotheka kuzapanga chikumbutso Ku Chikangawako??

Chilima stated that although the family has lost, but SKC will continue living in their hearts as his legacy lives forever.

Inkosi Ya Makhosi Gomani the 5th described “Bhiyeni” as Chilima was fondly called by the Ngoni’s as a hard worker and loving person.

Inkosi Ya Makhosi Gomani: Bhiyeni was our pride

“Bhiyeni was our pride and I would constantly seek advice from him and I loved him” confessed the traditional leader.

He commended the people for their support and love shown during this trying time.

The Ngoni Paramount Chief cited the public lecture in Lilongwe where the late UTM leader emphasized on the need to prioritise the country above all else.

A member of the officiating Clergy  Archbishop, Thomas Luke Msusa of Blantyre Diocese expressed deep concern over the accident which claimed the life of the VP and eight others.

Following the incident, he went to church and had a chat with God to ask him why he allowed it happened and got this response.

UTM Secretary General chats with the Mutharika’s

“You didn’t ask me why I allowed my beloved son to undergo all the suffering and be crucified. I have done this so that his glory may be manifested”.

Archbishop Msusa said ever since the accident happened prayers have been ongoing in all parishes in Malawi

He appealed to all those holding onto stones to throw them away because the late SKC propagated peace and unity to develop this nation.

Born on 12th February 1973, Chilima, a Ngoni from Ntcheu was a devout Catholic who together with his wife Mary had two children Sean and Elizabeth.

At 41, he was elected as Vice President in 2014 to 2019 under the presidency of Prof. Peter Mutharika before being elected again in 2020 on the Tonse Alliance ticket led by President Chakwera.

The deceased wife Mary together with her children and other family members

Throughout the two terms, apart from performing various delegated tasks, Dr. Chilima was instrumental in spearheading Public Sector Reforms.

He did his Primary education at HHI and Dharap primary schools and his secondary at Marist Brothers Mtendere Secondary school

The UTM President held a degree in Social Sciences from Chancellor College, Malawi, Master’s Degree in Economics and a PhD in Knowledge Management from the University of Bolton, United Kingdom.

Prior to joining politics, Chilima was in the business sector where he made history to become the first Malawian to head Airtel Malawi, one of the leading international mobile telecommunication companies.

Previously he held Senior Sales Marketing positions in the banking sector, Leasing and Finance Company, Unilever Malawi, Coca Cola and Carlsberg.

He was well known and highly respected as a performer, workaholic and has been an achiever everywhere he has worked.

The deceased also led the successful transition from Zain to Airtel and successfully steered the implementation of a unique and innovative outsource model in the telecoms space for Airtel in its Network, Call Centre and IT departments while at the same time ensuring there was minimal or no disruption in the business operations.

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