Laid to rise: Heaven, receive an honoured guest, Saulos Klaus Chilima!

In this piece, seasoned journalist EPHRAIM NYONDO pays tribute to the fallen hero, Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima.

The evening was violent, the skies darker, rainy and cold on Sunday in Ntcheu as gates of Nsipe opened to receive an honoured guest for the last requiem mass. But on a Monday, the day he got interred at exactly 13:45 hours, angels of calmness cleared Nsipe skies, turned them blue and still and solemn, yes, to let the honoured guest return home in tranquil.

The SKC sleeps to rise

Heaven, receive an honoured guest: Right Honourable Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima.

He came, 52 years ago. He turned Mary into a wife, made an indelible mark in corporate governance, inspired the young to take a lead in politics, kept his faith undisturbed, brought unity in diversity, smiled and played basketball with everyone.

Today, after 52 years of laughter, inspiration, courage, conquests and determination, here we are, Saulos: You have turned Mary into a widow; left Elizabeth and Sean, fatherless; your UTM party, leaderless and, just look around, you have dumped the entire nation reeling with the weight of vast emptiness and questions.

Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa, in his eulogy, spoke wisdom when uttered that Saulos isn’t dead ‘as we think’.

“He spoke so much, did so much to the people of Malawi. Now he has taken a decision to stop talking and doing so he can be silent and listen to us. He is listening to us right now?” said the revered man of God.

But what is Saulos hearing from us?

When he left Mzuzu on Monday, 10th June 2024, he was the Vice President who, despite having travelled long from South Korea a night before, had to take the national duty to see off Ralph Kasambara, former Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

Mary expected her husband back that Monday evening. Sean and Elizabeth wanted their ‘dad’ back, the Catholic Church expected their ‘most cherished’ member back, the UTM family expected the leader back—and Malawians expected their vice president back so he could, again, take another national duty of escorting President Lazarus Chakwera to Bahamas that evening.

None expected President Chakwera addressing the nation, on the Monday, telling us about a missing aircraft; none, on fateful Tuesday afternoon, expected Chakwera to return with another address to tell us the plane crashed with no survivors.

We expected Saulos to return, that Monday, still alive, still in full piece—not lifeless, just emptiness almost.

In the drudgery of his tragic, untimely and shocking death, there was confusion. In fact, in our confusion, the immediate search for answers saw some run into raw sense of senselessness.

Who authorized the plane if the weather was bad? Why did government take time to initiative search and rescue mission? And several other questions asked from the depth of pain, anguish and human helplessness.

The consequences have been dire: a President booed, ruffians manning the streets—4 people dying, 16 injured in the process.

Is this the voice that Saulos, in that comfort, is hearing from us?

Sean, the first born, says his father was peacemaker, a great dad, a charmer and, above all, a man who feared God.

“My father is in a better place and I know that for sure. Later I will unite with him,” he said.

It is our hope, all of us; to meet Saulos, again.

May his soul rest in eternal peace.




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