On Saturday, 17th February, 2018, the Catholic faithful in Malawi woke up in sock following the news that one of its Bishops, His Lordship Emmanuel Cosmas Kanyama of Dedza Diocese has accepted God’s call that he leave this world and go to heaven.

Late Bishop Kanyama had gone to see her old mum in Kapili, Mchinji on Friday but as he wanted to return back to Dedza, he felt unwell and decided to spend a night right in Mchinji. Sadly, on Saturday morning, relatives noted that the Bishop was not waking up and decided to check on him in his bedroom.

Reports indicate that the Bishop was found very weak and was rushing to Kapiri Health Center where he was pronounced dead upon arrival. According to a medical report, Bishop Kanyama died of High Blood Pressure.

“The Catholic Secretariat of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) regrets to announce the death of Bishop Emmanuel Kanyama, Bishop of the Diocese of Dedza. Bishop Kanyama has passed on today, 17 February, 2018 at his home, Kapiri,” reads part of the statement ECM Secretary General, Fr. Henry Saindi, announced, Saturday morning.

According to the funeral program released by ECM, there was funeral Holy Mass at Likuni Parish, in the Archdiocese of Lilongwe on Sunday, 18th February at 4:30 pm and was presided over by His Grace Tarsizio  Ziyaye, the Archbishop of Lilongwe.

On Tuesday, 20th February,the remains of the late Bishop Emmanuel Kanyama were taken from Likuni Mission Hospital Mortuary at 10:30 AM and before leaving for Dedza, there was a Holy Mass at  Likuni Parish.The Holy Mass was presided over by His Lordship Martin Mtumbuka, Bishop of Karonga and ECM Vice Chairman.

Upon arrival in Dedza, there was also another Holy Mass at Dedza Parish and Rev. Fr. Isaac Mwazambumba, Chairman of the Association of Diocesan Catholic Clergy in Dedza presided over the Holy Mass. Thereafter, the remains of the late Bishop Kanyama were taken to Bembeke Cathedral where Holy Mass and Vigil Prayers were celebrated with His Lordship, Montfort Stima, and Bishop of the Diocese of Mangochi presiding over the Holy Mass.

How shall we remember Bishop Kanyama?

On Wednesday, 21st February, thousands of people from all walks of life including Catholic faithful and people of goodwill,the President of the Republic of Malawi,Arthur Peter Mutharika,Vice President Saulos Chilima and his Spouse, Leader of Opposition Parties, Lazarus Chakwera and Speaker of  the National Assembly, Richard Msowoya gathered at St. Joseph’s Demonstration Primary School at Bembeke in Dedza for a late Bishop Kanyama’s Farewell Holy Mass.

The function was also attended by Very Reverend Fr. Andriy Yevchuk, Deputy Head of the Diplomatic Mission of the Holy See who represented His Excellency Most Reverend Julio Murat, Apostolic Nuncio to Zambia and Malawi.

Archbishop Ziyaye presided over the Holy Mass and was assisted by Bishops Mtumbuka,Stima,George Tambala of Zomba Diocese,Peter Musikuwa of Chikwawa Diocese and John Ryan of Mzuzu Diocese.Also present were Bishop Emeritus Allan Chamgwera, Rem Ste-Marie and Alessandro Pagani.

In his homily during the Holy Mass,Bishop Stima challenged Church and Political leaders to be true servants  of God by among others doing away with false prophets and the evil of corruption.

During speeches, Chilima who spoke on behalf of President Mutharika described late Bishop Kanyama as a Bishop who was timely whenever doing things and was orderly in everything.

“Though Bishop Kanyama was an intelligent Bishop,

But still more he liked reading.He loved his mother most and this is evidenced with where he has died.He respected his mother hence visited her quite often. Let us also embrace the same,”said Chilima.

Chilima said, the President was saddened with Bishop Kanyama’s dead more particularly for leaving behind his old mother.

“The President therefore pledged support toward the mother and has since given One Million Kwacha for her upkeep.This money will be given through the office of the Archdiocese of Lilongwe,”he said.

For his part, Vice Chairman for ECM, Bishop Mtumbuka urged Catholic Christians and the Clergy in Dedza to have faith despite losing their beloved Bishop.

“You,our brother priests in Dedza,we are very impressed with your sense of dignity and honour.Let no one separate you having lost your Bishop,”said Bishop Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese.

Speaking of behalf of the Clergy for Dedza Diocese, Fr Isaac Mwadzambumba said late Bishop Kanyama was a good leader who led the Church in Dedza extremely well.

He said Bishop Kanyama was a hard worker, promoted peace and encouraged self-reliance among the Clergy and Parishioners.

“As Christians, we are going to remember late Bishop Kanyama for his humbleness and was gifted with good homilies, full of advice to us as the laity. We pray that Pope gives us another Bishop with at least similar qualities as that of late Bishop Kanyama,” said Grace Itende, representative of the laity for Dedza Diocese.

Birth and Studies

The late Bishop Emmanuel Kanyama was born on 25th December 1962 at Kanyama Village, Traditional Authority Kasumbu in Dedza District. He came from a devoted and pastorally active Catholic family. He completed his primary and secondary education in Dedza, his home District. He followed his priestly studies at St. Anthony Kachebere Major Seminary where he was awarded the Diploma in Philosophy. He, then, studied Theology at St. Peter’s Major Seminary where he was awarded Bachelor’s Degree in Theology.

Ordination and Priestly Ministry

He was ordained Priest on 4’n August 1990 at Mtendere Parish where his parents settled. From 1990 to I992, he was Lecturer at St. Kizito Minor Seminary in the Diocese of Dedza.

 Further Studies and Appointments

From 1992 to 1996, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Kanyama studied at the Pontifical University of Urbaniana in Rome. He was awarded a Licentiate and Doctorate Degrees in Philosophy. After his studies, he was appointed Lecturer in Philosophy at St. Anthony Kachebere Major Seminary in Mchinji, where he also was in the office of the Acting Rector for six years. From 2004, he was appointed Parish Priest in Ntcheu. At the same time, he was serving as a member of the College of Consultors for the Diocese of Dedza and Lecturer of Philosophy at St. Anthony Major Seminary in Kachebere.

Episcopal Ordination

 Pope Benedict XVI appointed Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Kanyama Bishop of the Diocese of Dedza on 4th July 2007. On 6th October 2007, Rev. Fr. Kanyama was consecrated and installed as Bishop of the Diocese of Dedza at Bembeke Cathedral. He succeeded Bishop Joseph Gustave Sainte-Marie M. Afr. who was transferred to the Diocese of Lilongwe succeeding Bishop Felix Mkhori.

 Positions held at ECM and AMECEA Level

 At ECM level, Bishop Kanyama held among others, the following positions: Chairman for the Council of the Catholic University of Malawi (CUNIMA), Bishop Chairman for the Catholic Education Commission, Bishop Chairman for Ecumenism and Interfaith Dialogue, Bishop Chairman for Social Communications and Research Commission and ECM Board of Trustee for Ecumenical Counseling Centre (ECC).

By Prince Henderson