Thursday, June 7, 2012

We say goodbye to Mzee Msuya

Last Saturday we had a funeral service for Noah Msuya's father, David Msuya. Brother David was a faithful member of the Lord's church and a respected leader in his community. Unfortunate for the last few years he had suffered the effects of a major stroke that left him paralyzed and took his power of speech away as well.

The family asked if I would preach at the funeral - a great honour for me. The family also wanted the church to organize a lot of the service which was a good opportunity for the church too. A number of the brethren took an active part and everything went very well. This is good when we remember that this was the first funeral that the church here has organised.

It was a long day with Anne and myself arriving at the house (where the funeral was to be held) at 9.00am. We were able to comfort David's widow, Mama Msuya, who is a wonderful Christian lady just recovering form a nasty broken leg. We were also able to met others in the family and to finalize arrangements.

At about 10.00 we drove up to the local mortuary, where the body had been kept, and be part of the funeral cort├Ęge going back to the house. The coffin was in the back of a small ute (pick up) and several vehicles followed it slowly down the hill. At one stage we were over taken at speed on the very narrow road by a large 4X4 carrying the official photographer for the day. Apparently he was running late.

When the body arrived at the house it was carried into the main room where close family gathered around it. Some songs were sung and then the top was opened for the close family to view.

Cups of tea were drunk, more songs were sung and then after a while the coffin was taken out to a place of honour on the front verandah of the house. Chairs had been set out on the grass in the front and on the side of the verandah and slowly people were filling them up.

They had set up a P.A. system and turned the volume up high. Many more songs were sung - our brethren did a great job with their song leading. Prayers were said and finally it was announced that sermon was going to be given.

I got up with my translator for the day, Harold, a wonderful man who is the Bro. David's nephew. I was taken aback with just how many people were there. They had filled up the entire front yard with all the hired seats taken and many standing. I didn't know it at the time but there were also huge number of people outside, seated on more chairs in the garden on the other side of the road and standing listening. I was told that the family estimates that there were more than 500 people in attendance!

The family had asked me to preach a gospel sermon and that's what I did. What a wonderful opportunity to preach to so many people, the vast majority of whom were not Christians, Christ's wonderful plan of salvation.

We had more songs - many more songs, and then a final viewing of the body.

After that the coffin was taken to the grave which had been dug in the yard at the back of the house. I was asked to say a few words before the grave was filled in. The young men took it in turns to shovel dirt into the grave, working in a relay of an few shovelfuls each before hastily passing the shovel onto another young man. All the time this was happening we were singing more and more songs. The microphones were wireless so we still had a lot of sound!

Once the grave was full and ready, flowers were laid on top. We have some wonderful flowers grown in this area, so the display was breathtaking.

After all the official duties were done it was time for food. The family supplied food for ALL those people. Drinks too! The sodas alone would have been a huge expense. While all this was going on the last speeches were being made. One of these was from the representative from the funeral fund. He duly reported how much the family had got back from the funds they had been paying into for years.

Anne and I finally left at about 4.30pm. Very tired, very nearly deaf from the extreme sound. But we were also very pleased by the very dignified send off we had been a part of for a faithful brother.

The crowd gathered on the other side of the road

Bro. Msuya was a highly respected man.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. It was very interesting and also enlightening. So different for USA but also familiar with the songs, prayers and sermon.
    I am sure everyone was thankful that you and Anne were there.
    Norma Curtis

    1. Thanks Norma, I was an interesting day. It was different in that it was LONG. We were about the first to leave.