Buried with full military honours, a three-gunshot salute by soldiers of the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) came amidst sobs, tears and hymns accompanied Chief Ngolongoliwa’s last mile on earth. And to almost all the speakers, his was a life well lived.
The Paramount chief died on Sunday at Adventist Hospital in Blantyre, after a long battle with cancer and pneomonia.
Among high-profile mourners who attended the funeral service included President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, Vice President Everton Herbert Chimulirenji, former President Bakili Muluzi, cabinet ministers and top parliamentary officials.
Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa presented a eulogy on behalf of the President “who was too aggrieved to speak at the funeral”.
Nankhumwa said the President was saddened by the death of one of his most trusted confidantes; his advisor and above all, his best friend.
“We gather today to mourn our traditional chief; he was a man who dedicated his life to unity and peaceful co-existence among all Malawians regardless of tribal, political and religious extraction. As others have already said, Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa was a fearless and courageous man,” said Nankhumwa, who is also the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Vice President for Southern Region.
Above all, Nankhumwa said the fallen traditional chief was God-fearing hence besides being a funeral with military honours, the church also took a significant role through praise and worship.
“The President has delegated me to inform the deceased family that he would personally fend for them, especially making sure that the children complete their education.
“Likewise, as the President had assured the Llomwes after President Bingu wa Mutharika had died in office in 2012, he would also rally behind and support them through and through,” said Nankhumwa, asking the Llomwes to expeditiously identify Ngolongoliwa’s replacement as Paramount Chief, “in a transparent and acceptable manner”.
Local Government and Rural Development Minister Ben Malunga Phiri said in his eulogy that the late Ngolongoliwa was always driven by the desire to unite the Llomwes and people of other tribes “as children of one Malawi family”.
“He was an anchor of peace that has abruptly been taken away from us,” he said.
Mulakho wa Alhomwe Board Chairman, Leston Mulli, said Ngolongoliwa has left a strong legacy in the history of Malawi, saying he was a custodian of the Llomwe culture.
Representing children of the deceased, Misheck Juma said much as the family is mourning the loss of their father, they thank God for the life of the chief which has had an impact on the family and his subjects at large.
“He was so supportive to us in all aspects of life including support towards education. To others, he was a counselor,” Juma said.