It’s been a year since she left us. Not to sound like a cliche, but the fact is that its almost as if it was yesterday that we were together and having one of our many good laughs. But a year has since gone by and all I am left with are the fond memories of the time I knew her.
I met Nzala the day she joined God’s Envoys, a music ministry that I am glad to be a part of. Before Nzala, I had been the most recent newbie in the group and so when she was joined, we connected instantly. She quickly become friends with everybody and for years to come, every other member that joined became friends with Nzala faster than many of us. I learned shortly that my birthday preceded hers, and that we were born the same year: she jokingly became my twin sister, our way of getting back at our friends Hope and Nellisiwe, siblings who shared the same birthday.
I write this not to talk about how much I was close to her, but to celebrate her life and her legacy. What is her legacy? To me, her legacy is her character: Strong-willed, Zealous, Loving and Compassionate as well as God-loving.
Her strong-will drove to greater heights in life. She told my friends and I stories of her background and some of the things she had been through to get to where she was. She had not had an easy life, but there she was, eager to face the next challenge head on. Her stories often encouraged me, especially in situations with which I could relate, for example, losing her parents at a young age and facing life afterwards.
Her Zeal for life was out of this world. One would not tell that she was facing a difficult situation in her life because she faced life with a smile and a zeal to have a better day. She was zealous about her future. She had big dreams and often joked about herself in the future. I remember how that zeal skyrocketed the day she became Mrs. Kakinga. With Ndala by her side, she was unstoppable, no one and nothing could bring her spirits down.
Her love for life, for her family, for her friends and for others was simply divine. Nzala loved people, not for anything they did or had, but just for being people. I like to think she loved the way Christ wants us to love. She was compassionate and kind to all. One time, she told me that she wanted to help out orphans and vulnerable once she got a steady job. I guess this was because of the experience she had growing up. During a community service programme for God’s Envoys at an orphanage, one of the kids fondly called her ‘Auntie Nzara’, as the young girl felt the love Nzala showed to her. I am sure she would have set out to achieve that act of love had she been with us today.
Nzala loved God and was unashamed or unapologetic about it. Her eagerness to serve the Lord, sometimes even in the most direst of circumstances, encouraged me. She remained faithful to Him even when not doing so would be the easiest option. I can safely say that the phrase “the love of God constrains us” was brought to life with Nzala. She loved to sing about God and His love; and when Nzala sung, she really sung!
A year later, as I write this blog post, I am glad to have had a friend who showed had a great character. She was an example, a yardstick and a blessing. I shed a tear as the thought of her not being around crosses my mind, but at almost the same time, I am comforted at the thought of what she would say. I smile.
Many of us have imagined how it must have been for those that rubbed shoulders or shared moments with some of the greatest people of our time, the likes of Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Ghandi or Rosa Parks, in those times when they served humanity. It must have been great. Today, if i were to make my list of people that made me feel that way, Nzala Matyola Kakinga would be among the few. She made life great!
It has taken me a year to even write anything, but I am glad that I have done it now: not to mourn, but to celebrate.
Today, I choose to celebrate Nzala!