Zambia: 'Farewell Benjamin Mowa'

Around this time last year, Times of Zambia published a touching story of a Lusaka-based teacher, Maria Mulenga, who sacrificed one of her kidneys to save the life of her husband Benjamin Mowa.

Alas, one year later, that rare story of determination and untold love came to a tragic end a few days ago following the death of Benjamin Chikwase Mowa, commonly known as Benji.

Mr Mowa, a former employee of the Times Printpak Limited before he left to join Zambia Adventist Publishing House (ZAPH)where he worked until his death, was a distinguished Information Technology (IT) expert and graphics designer whose work spoke volumes about his unique talent.

Mr Mowa was focussed, gentle, friendly, caring, and God-fearing, among some of his many qualities.

His death drew hundreds of mourners at Chilanga Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church last Sunday where the building was full to capacity as people gathered to bid him farewell.

The entire church car park was full of vehicles while other people, who could not secure their sits inside the church, followed proceedings from outside the main building.

A sombre mood characterised the church service as Dorcas mothers sang solemn gospel songs outside the church before the remains of Mr Mowa were taken inside the church building.

Benjamin, an ordained elder in the SDA Church,died at Lusaka's University Teaching Hospital (UTH) on September 30, 2021, and was buried on October 3, 2021, at Lusaka's Leopard Hill Memorial Park.

He is survived by his wife, Maria Mulenga Kashiwa-Mowaand three children;Mowa, Lukundo and Mukuka.

Benjaminwill be greatly missed by his workmates at ZAPH and former colleagues at the Times of Zambia, among others.

Chris Mfula, former IT manager at Times of ZambiaLusaka Office, said the death of Mr Mowa was a huge loss.

Mr Mfula said the deceased, who was his junior at Times of Zambia in Lusaka, was a talented IT and printing expert, besides being a solution-driven person.

He said Mr Mowawas always keen to learn more on IT and other technical matters.

"Benjamin was enthusiastic and passionate on IT Matters. He was very positive and confident of his work while he had a very strong personality. In overall, he was a very good person," Mr Mfula said.

Mr Mfula said it was unfortunate that Benjamin died after a successful kidney transplant in India.

ZAPH Manager Baldwin Kabanda described Benjamin as a "social butterfly."

He said the deceased wassocial and friendly with everyone at the organisation.

Mr Kabanda said Mr Mowa got better after he had the kidney transplant in India in 2020 and so it surprising that he died at a time when many thought he had fully recovered.

He said Mr Mowa, who joined ZAPH in January 2014, worked for the organisation for seven years and nine months up to the time of his death.

"Before joining ZAPH, I asked Benjamin to leaveTimes of Zambia and join us, but he initially refused. After negotiations with him and his wife, he accepted to join us," Mr Kabanda said.

Chilanga Mission District Pastor Brian Sinyangwe, who officiated during the church service, described Mr Mowaas a visionary and vibrant person in the work of God.

Pastor Sinyangwe said it was a blessing for a person to die in the Lord as outlined in Revelation 14:13.

He said Mr Mowa was a dedicated church leader who was always concerned with the affairs of the church.

The pastor said he was shocked when he heard of Mr Mowa'sdeath especially that the two regularly spoke.

Going by the interactions of the two, Pastor Sinyangwe was confident that Mr Mowawould be discharged from UTH and so he did not call the deceased on Thursday last week as earlier agreed.

Unfortunately, as Pastor Sinyangwe was following President Hakainde Hichilema's press conference on television on the same day, news reached him that Mr Mowa had died.

"Today is a reminder to all of us that life is fragile, short and a mystery held in God's hands. We have little control of our lives," he said.

He urged the Mowa family to set aside any differences and unite, knowing that God was in control.

Pastor Sinyangwe cautioned the family against any acts of mistreating children and the widow.

Giving a Church history, Chilanga Main SDA Church Clerk Inonge Chisenga said Mr Mowawas baptised by late Cornelius Matandiko in May 1994 at Rusangu Secondary School.

Ms Chisenga said the deceased, who was in good and regular standing, served the church in various positions.

"Benjamin served as an elder, treasurer and music director. He was a dedicated person in all the roles he played. In 2021, he was serving as assistant treasurer till his death," Ms Chisenga said.

She said the deceased was passionate in winning souls for Jesus Christ while he had great love for music.

Family representative John Kaite said Mr Mowahad touched a lot of lives in the years that he was on earth.

Mr Kaite said Mr Mowawould be dearly missed by his family, friends and other stakeholders.

The deceased was born in Ndola Central hospital on August 17, 1977 to the late elder Shem Mowa and Lydia Katwishi-Chishimba.

He was the last born in a family of 10 children of whom three are currently dead.

According to Mr Kaite, Mr Mowa attended various primary schools and began his first grade at Wusakili Primary in Kitwe.

He was then transferred to Olympia Park Primary School in Lusaka to complete his primary education, after which he attended secondary education at Rusangu in Monze.

Later, he enrolled at Zambia Insurance Business College Trust (ZIBC) in Ndola, after which he studied IT at Evelyn Hone College in Lusaka.

He also studied Printing and Designing and graduated as a graphic designer.

He joined the Times of Zambia in Ndola and got married to Maria on December21, 2008.

In the course of their marriage, Mr Mowa's kidneys started failing due to high blood pressure (BP) and the deceased was later put on dialysis for some years.

"Several family members, willing to donate their kidneys, were screened but either no match was found or there were other medical complications that could not allow the transplant to be done. His dear wife Maria then came forward to be screened as well and a perfect match was found," Mr Kaite said.

His wife then donated the required kidney and the transplant was miraculously done in India in 2020 at the peak of COVID-19.

According to Mr Kaite the Mowa family would forever be grateful to Maria for the selfless gesture she showed to her late husband.

"The kidney transplant completely transformed the quality of Benjamin's life for the better and he subsequently led a normal life until two weeks ago when he was admitted with a headache, high BP and high creatine levels," he said.

Last week on Wednesday evening, Benjamin went for dialysis and in the early hours of Thursday, he was taken to Intensive Care Unit (ICU) because of pulmonary embolism.

"A few hours later,Benjamin suffered from a cardiac arrest and died about 14:00 hours September 30, 2021. Benjamin was employed as a Graphic Designer for ZAPH and also served as one of the factory supervisors," he said.

Ms Mowa said her wish was to continue being with her sweetheart forever.

"You have fought your battle and you have finished it... farewell till the resurrection morning," Ms Mowa said while gesturing at the remains of her husband.

In a tribute read for her during church service, Ms Mowa said her husband had left a big gap in her heart and life.

She said she tried her best to save his life by giving him part of her body and but her wish was not God's wish.

Ms Mowa thanked her husband for the years the two spent and did everything together.

Apart from family, Ms Mowa said her husband cherished friends and he would be greatly missed.

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