Malawi’s renowned gospel artists Grace Chinga was laid to rest at HHI Cemetery in Blantyre on Saturday, as thousands gathered at the Robins Park in Blantyre for funeral service and broke barriacades at the cemetery to get near her golden coffin.
Chinga one of the country biggest gospel musician was pronounced dead upon arrival at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyreafter complaining of headache last Thursday.
The thousands of people braved the heat weather inside Robins Park to pay their last respects. While in excess of 20 000 people packed Robins Park, several thousand more lined the streets of Blantyre along the route to his final resting place in HHI cemetery.
From early in the morning mourners began converging at Robins Park in a colorful assortment of clothes and the usual black regalia.
Several had driven from all the corners of Blantyre townships to attend the service including minister of sports Grace Chiumia and First Deputy Speaker Mcheka Chelenje.
There were also thousands of mourners outside the Robins Park, who carried Grace’s posters.
Grace’s casket arrived at Robins Park in a black hearse.
The heat inside Robins Park failed to dampen the crowd’s resolve to pay their respects. An announcement over the loudspeaker system said that over 25 000 people had parked the magnificent hall.
Tears rolled when Grace’s daughter Miracle took the stage to sing two songs for her mother.
There were emotions, as the daughter sung the two songs deep down from her heart and the same like what her mother used to.
Then it was time for speeches.
After speeches, only family members and other senior delegates were allowed to view the body, as it was difficult to accommodate thousands that came to do the same because of time.
After Robins park, thousands of mourners stand on a ramp and watch a long convoy leave the hall. Some walked from Robins to HHI while chanting Grace’s name, “Akalowe ku Paradiso akalowe.”
As the convoy made its way out of the city along the Makata Road people could be seen with their cell phones taking pictures or bowing their heads in respect of the late Grace.
As the coffin descended at the cemetery, mourners chanted her famous Thandizo Langa song.
Grace daughter Miracle comforted by Mcheka Chilenje wept, and appeared to be speaking to her mother’s coffin as she threw a flower into the grave.
As relatives approached the grave, they too began to weep. Gospel musicians, led by Ethel Kamwendo Banda, placed flowers in the grave. Thoko Katimba stood at the grave with a bowed head.
However, Chaos erupted at the cemetery as marshals, ultimately lost their battle against a human tide of about 25 000 trying to force its way through the barricades in front of the coffin.
The master of ceremonies called for fans at the back to stop pushing those in front of them. As marshals helped children and the elderly over the barricades, the master of ceremony shouted: “You are going to create chaos. You are going to kill little children here. No pushing.”
But his calls for calm were drowned by the screams of women as the crowd broke through and when an elderly woman lay down injured near Grace’s grave, somebody yelled: “We want medics urgently, medics, medics!”
It was even difficult for photo journalists to take pictures, as the grave yard was surrounded by thousands of people with others using their phones trying to take pictures
Proudly labeled as Malawi’s Rebecca Malope, Chinga shot in the limelight in 1998 with the first album, Uleke, of the defunct All Angels Choir.
Her first album which earned her awards had the popular song, Thandizo Langa.
Chinga was hit by divorce -with husband top photographer Rodger Moffart – which turned to be
among the most publicized marriage dissolution cases in Malawi.
But Grace two years later in 2010, released probably her best ever album, Udzayimba Nyimbo.
Born on June 25, 1978, Chinga, is survived by three children; two boys and a girl.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :