Pastor Ziba celebrates his 100th birthday

When the Vipya sank 68 years ago, killing nearly 150 of the people aboard the ship, one person the tragedy would haunt for years was a school teacher, then aged 31.

Pastor Ziba (Retired) is fed a cake by  daughters . Pix by Gospel Mwalwanda

Pastor Ziba (Retired) is fed a cake by daughters . Pix by Gospel Mwalwanda

Pastor Ziba (Retired) and Rose Chibambo celebrates being centurian at Mzuzu Hotel. Pix by Gospel Mwalwanda

Pastor Ziba (Retired) and Rose Chibambo celebrates being centurian at Mzuzu Hotel. Pix by Gospel Mwalwanda

The passenger ship MV Vipya capsized on Lake Malawi, then known as Lake Nyasa, in a storm near Chilumba in Karonga on July 30 1946, drowning 145 of the 194 passengers and crew on board.

The tragedy had a bearing on one school in the northern region–some of the passengers on the ill-fated ship’s fourth voyage since her first trip a month earlier were pupils from the school.

A few days before the Vipya sank, some pupils at Luwazi Mission School of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church in Nkhata-Bay got into trouble when they were given punishment for mischief.

The school at the time had a garden in which it grew groundnuts and would store it in a barn after harvest. The school would then grind the groundnut into flour to give flavor to the pupils’ relish.

But unknown to the authorities, some pupils were stealing groundnuts from the barn, until when it was discovered the crop had dwindled in quantity. Meanwhile, pupils would be seen eating groundnuts.

When the person who was responsible for the garden was asked where the pupils where getting the groundnuts they were eating, he said he did not know, prompting an investigation to be instituted.

The investigation revealed that 14 pupils were responsible for the theft. The school head, a white man, told the pupils to choose between going home and each one digging an 18-foot latrine as a punishment.

The errant pupils, who were from Karonga, chose to go home rather than dig the latrines. The decision the pupils made did not please one teacher, Pastor Patrick Ziba who wanted them to continue schooling.

Before they left for their homes, Pastor Ziba asked the 14 pupils to go to his house where he and his wife pleaded with them not to go home but to do the punishment instead and remain at school.

Pastor Ziba and his wife did all they could to persuade the pupils to rescind their decision, but the pleas fell on deaf ears. On July 27 1946, the pupils left for Nkhata Bay to board the Vipya on their way home.

On July 28, Pastor Ziba, who greatly valued education and still felt he needed to do something to bring back the pupils, followed them. He walked 24 Kilometres from the mission to the port.

“He found the pupils at the port and again pleaded with them to return to school,” Mrs. Margaret Limbe, Pastor Ziba’s fifth born child, told Mana. “He spent the whole day trying to reason with them.”

Before the ship arrived, a worried Pastor Ziba asked the pupils if they had enough money for their tickets. Six of them told him they had money for their fares, while eight said they did not.

When the Vipya moored at the quay at 2 pm for her northward trip, the six pupils who had money boarded her, while the other eight went in search of piece work to raise money for their fares.

On July 30, there came news to the effect that the Vipya had capsized around Chilumba, killing 145 of the passengers. Of the six Luwazi pupils who were aboard the ship, only two survived.

Pastor Ziba, according to Mrs. Limbe, was so devastated by the news that for years, he would blame himself for not having done enough to prevent the deaths of the other pupils.

“Our father never tired of telling his children the story as a moral lesson that it pays to be obedient in life,” said Mrs. Limbe. “He has told us the story countless times from the time the tragedy happened.”

And recently on his 100th birthday, Pastor Ziba could not let the event go without telling the story of the 14 pupils and how bad he had felt all along that some of them perished with the sinking of the Vipya.

Dressed in a black suit, black bow tie and his trade mark trilby that he has worn since 1936, he repeated the gripping story to the more than 150 guests at the birthday party at the Mzuzu Hotel last Sunday.

The guests included Malawi’s first female Cabinet Minister, Rose Chibambo (nee Ziba), children and grandchildren. Some of the relations travelled from abroad for the birthday party.

Pastor Ziba has all his life been known as a selfless person who is always willing to render assistance to anyone in need, whether a relation or not, as shown by his desire to help the 14 Luwazi pupils.

It is this virtue of willingness to help others that made the retired pastor popular wherever he lived, doing God’s work. He may have retired today from preaching, but people still speak highly of him.

Chibambo, who fled to Zambia after the 1964 cabinet crisis, said she always remembered Pastor Ziba while she was in exile. She described him as a loving parent and a great man “whom we all love.”

“I have known him since I was six years old,” said Chibambo in her speech during Pastor Ziba’s birthday party. “Even when I was in exile, I always thought about him. Adada [father] is a great man.”

Chibambo, who is approaching her 80s, added: “I am happy that my father is around. At my age, he is the only one I can call father. I wish him many more years.”

The last born of four children, Pastor Patrick Chandamuka Ziba was born at Kafukule in the area of Traditional Authority Mthwalo in Mzimba in 1915. He attended school at Luwazi Mission.

In 1939, Pastor Ziba got married to Vickiness Jere and proceeded to train as a teacher at Malamulo Mission in Thyolo District before he returned to Luwazi to start his teaching career.

It was while at Luwazi Mission School that he found his ministerial calling. He pastored at Luwazi Mission Church at three different times for a total of 14 years, serving as the mission’s administrator.

After teaching at Luwazi Mission School, he went to Solusi College in Zimbabwe to get his formal ministerial training.

When he returned to Malawi, Pastor Ziba pastored at Ighembe SDA Church in Karonga for seven years. While in Karonga, he travelled to Tanzania, Chitipa, Rumphi and Mzimba spreading the word of God.

In 1974, he went to Chisemphere in Kasungu to help rebuild and revive the Chisemphere SDA Church. While at Chisemphere, he travelled throughout the central region conducting spiritual camp meetings.

In 1979, he pastored at Enumwini SDA Church in Mzimba for three years before he was called back to Luwazi where he served till his retirement.

In 1994, Pastor Ziba travelled to the USA where he preached in California and at Yakima in the State of Washington.

Rennie Zumazuma, one of Pastor Ziba’s daughters, presented to her father an honorary plaque that she brought with her from the All Nations African Church in the USA where he lives.

“The plaque is in recognition of the work he did in the USA where he went to preach the word of God,” said Mrs. Zumazuma, who was born in Solusi in Zimbabwe. “I feel blessed to have him as a father.”

A widower, Pastor Ziba walks unaided, speaks effortlessly and does not wear spectacles, belying his 100 years. He is recognized by his smartness and a hat he has worn since 1936.

People who have visited him at his home in Kafukule speak of how smart he looks all the time, despite his advanced years. The good comments people make about his smartness are not lost on him.

Pastor Ziba said: “I was a teacher and I have to be exemplary all the time. I hate wearing dirty clothes. As for the hat, some people used to tell me that the longer you wear a hat, the more hair you lose.

“I would simply laugh and tell them I would never stop wearing my hat. I would tell them let me lose my hair rather than stop wearing my hat.”

Pastor Ziba said he had lived in the Tonga land for many years and knew what smartness entailed. He said to him, to be smart means wearing a suit, necktie and a hat at all times.

Asked about the secret behind his longevity at a time when life expectancy of Malawians is 58.04 for males and 61.97 for females, Pastor Ziba said he simply looks after himself.

“I do not believe in traditional medicine. I neither drink nor smoke. As for my diet, I like simple food such as rice porridge and kondoole [cassava thick porridge]. To reach 100 years is not a joke,” he said.

Pastor Ziba, who was blessed with nine children of whom five are alive, added with a sorrowful look: “Most of my age mates at Kafukule are gone.”

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55 thoughts on “Pastor Ziba celebrates his 100th birthday”

  1. nabanda says:

    Thank you to the Almighty God

  2. Maggie Lucius says:

    This is a breath of fresh air coming from Nyasatimes. We are tired of just seeing news that are dividing the nation i.e political news as if there is no other news out there. Kudos to the write and may Pastor Ziba be blessed even more.

  3. seleman omar says:

    Thank allah.

  4. Tili Chenene says:

    Wow! What a life well lived. The man is a hero!

  5. MWASUWA says:

    very interesting

  6. Mabungwe says:

    This is what God can do. I am encouraged and blessed.
    God continue to bless and keep you Pastor.

  7. peter says:

    Be blessed more real Pastor! Ana mverani makolo otherwise death wl maul you

  8. Dumi's Dad says:

    I have learnt alot and I have liked your character. How would you walk like that just to plead with people who were stealing nuts. You are a great man.

  9. Delight J says:

    Still alive, pastor? God shook Luwazi mission through this man. Talk of camp meetings and officiating weddings! “Ndimwe Muliska mwene nkhongono…”

  10. wanted says:

    SDA that’s my very very very very very good church.
    All the best pastor

  11. Glory be to God. I never had a chance to meet the man of God but I had the chance to be accommodated by his children Mr n Mrs Limbe (great people of great character) is it possible to reconnect with you again? Itts been quite a while. May the author get me in contact with the Limbes plz. God bless you Pst Ziba. A veteran

  12. the Northern speech says:

    Thank GOD

  13. BAMBALA. says:

    Nice article really .

  14. Edith says:

    What an inspiring story. Kudos to the children for organising such a befitting event for a real hero. I am a proud daughter of Luwazi where this hero pastored for many years. Glory to God for his life.

  15. munthu says:

    thats the gud article that we want to read.Keep it up the author

    1. Edith says:

      Gospel, congrats for such a well researched human interest article. I enjoyed reading it too.

  16. tate says:

    Thats news worthy writing,long live adada Ziba.

  17. U grow up in nkhatabay das my home baba tonga ppll are smart

  18. To God I give de Glory for your life grand dad,man of God,Faithful Child of God. You have lived exemplary on earthly paradise.Be blessed for fulfilling Gods will of spreading his word to all Nations.

  19. Malawianah says:

    He is a man of God indeed..may God keek mr ziba strong so that he can continue teaching the youth how to take care themselves.

  20. bafuta says:

    How can you be talking of chisemphere,thats my home may God bless u for ministering at our home and helping
    to biuld our church.

  21. We hop to hear more from God through u Pastor, may u live longer than u imagine Amen!

  22. matt myawa says:

    not bad at all this is awesome.

  23. Prestine says:

    May your God, continue blessing U pastor, we expect more from God through U Amen!

  24. Boza twoboo says:

    I like the story and it has rendered a lesson to many of us as well,,Bravo Pastor Ziba

  25. mtila zomba says:

    not well documented tangolembani mchitumbuka ife tilibe nazo ntchito inenso ambuyanga akwanitsa 100 koma ndili chete

  26. Glory be to God– wishing you more years- happy to read this story.

  27. M'Malawi weniweni says:

    Congrats Dada Pastor Ziba. May God protect and add more years to your life for living to His will

  28. LHOMWEH 1 says:

    God is real. nice story, God bless you

  29. Mpandamphanga says:

    This is admirable, not some pastors we have today. God be with you!

  30. Will says:

    This is a complete blessing from the FATHER. In your old age, you are still strong. In your old age, you can still have your children around you so loving. In your old age; you can still celebrate with people at the hotel on your birthday. In your old age; you can still love GOD and remember HIS blessings upon you. NO WORDS CAN EXPRESS THE GOOD THINGS YOU HAVE DONE TO THE WHOLE NATION AND WORLD ATLARGE. May The Living GOD continue blessing YOU. PLEASE Malawians let us emulate the good example of th loving children of The retired Pastor Ziba. Our parents can grow as strong as him if they are well taken care of. Be wise, let us bless them with love and care.

  31. MAY GOD BLESS YOU, YOU ARE FATHER TO ALL OF US ALSO AND HAVE ALL MY BEST WISHES FOR A SUCESSFUL NEW YEAR 2015 !!!!!! GOOD HEALTH, HAPPINESS AND PROSPERITY TOO.

    GOOD BLESS YOU + AMEN +

  32. Saini says:

    A good story that encourage you to live positive ,may Pastor Ziba have many years

  33. CHRISTINA NKHAYA says:

    Praise God for such a father,and you his children,be blessed for taking care of your dad,what a treat for the old smart man,he deserves numerous medals,i have been strengthened by your testimony papa.God bless all the organisers of the wonderful event.

  34. osiah Shora says:

    100 years is by grace of God, may God bless you

  35. Chabazo says:

    For once we have a very inspiring story. Thank God for this Pastor. And this is a genuine pastor Ziba, not that other fake pastor Ziba in Blantyre. God bless you genuine pastor Ziba!!!

  36. vero says:

    Ndaphunzirapo zazikulu apa….

  37. Umoza says:

    Now I know where our deputy headmaster at Livingstonia Second in the ’90s, late Sir WD Ziba, father to Patrick, got his smartness and moral uprightness. MHSRIP

  38. Southner says:

    Happy happy birthday madala a hundred years is a big story

  39. Eckson Kaime says:

    A living testimony to the greatness of God.

  40. Munthuwazeru says:

    Izi ndizimene MULUNGU adalonjeza kwa ose okhulupirira, Amen Abusa!

  41. The second coming says:

    This is very nice and a nice story too. I guess it pays to live your life a certain way. Wishing you many more.

  42. Greencardless Malawian says:

    Praise be to God

  43. kd says:

    nanga bwanji sanatenge dzikoli?

  44. Mada Wa Muthalika says:

    My. father in. the same area is. also very smart and strong.
    He has just turned 97 years old. So he is 3 years younger to Pastor Ziba
    Congratulations to pastor Ziba for turning 100. God bless you

  45. john musongole says:

    mumakwana pastor, thanx Jehova for that. I envy you.

  46. chinene says:

    pastor woyenda ndi yesu {father ABRAHAM of MALAWI} long live papa!!!

  47. Beautiful story, with a lot of inspirations. Me lyk it lots!!!! Long live my pasto & happy 2015!!!!!!

  48. Chamwaka says:

    A well written, heart warming story about a warm man. May the good lord bless his soul.

  49. chibwatiko says:

    bravo pastor ziba

  50. Thenjiwe says:

    Happy for such a living testimony of a dedicated and loving pastor. Basekuru, Chiuta walutizge kumudangilirani. 100years yet still strong takes the grace of the Almighty God whom you have clung to all these years. Remain blessed Badada, Basekuru, kweniso Balisya. I have really been edified by your life as outlined in this article. Bayethe Inkosi Jesu for your exemplary life.

  51. chaona mzako says:

    u are a blessing smart old man. may the good lord and alittle more yrs to u. amen.

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