Sunday, July 10, 2011

Abigail Zulu—The Rare Jewel—Remembered

“As by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

Abigail's tombstone prior to the unveiling
Last year at this time I wrote a blog post entitled, “Abigail Zulu (1958-2010)—A Rare Jewel Indeed”. Last Saturday, I attended a simple but God-glorifying memorial event in honour of this same lady. It primarily involved the unveiling of her tombstone and a meal for all invited guests. At the grave site, Mr Kapanji brought God’s Word to us from 1 Corinthians 15, that powerful passage on the Christian’s blessed hope. The truth that all die in Adam and all are made alive in Christ was expounded in all its clarity. We were reminded of Horatio Gates Spafford’s circumstances when he penned that beautiful hymn that has endeared itself to Christendom,

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well, with my soul”

Mr Kapanji preaching the Word of God
We then heard a number of tributes given by friends (Esther Mbao, Anne Themba read by her daughter, Joyce Hibajene, and Jennipher Kapanji), and by Abigail's husband and children. The friends recalled Abigail’s love for her God and her family, her clear understanding of Christian doctrine, and her jovial personality. Her daughter, Tamara, who was not present, (among other things) recalled her mother’s early morning visits into her bedroom to say her farewell each morning before leaving for work. Her mother often laid her hand on her forehead, offered a quick prayer to God, and then kissed her.

Below are the tributes given by Abigail’s husband, Levi, and by her eldest son, Isaac, who were both present for the occasion.

Levi Zulu with their son, Isaac, after the unveiling of the tombstone
* * * * * *

Dear Lord:

It was this time last year that you passed through your garden and picked up one of your choice roses by the foothill of a small village outside Mansa. That rose was:

1. A loving wife. I had enjoyed 28 years of happiness with a friend who made me laugh and shared my aspirations in spiritual work and service to God’s people. She was truly a good wife who made me very glad. She was a pillar of support in family matters and came to the assistance of one and all without distinction. She was a wonderful person to know as a wife.

Jennipher Kapanji, Anne Themba's daughter, Joyce Hibajene, Esther Mbao reading tributes
2. A loving mother. She was tenacious in her support to our children and always reminded me of a Tigress in protection of her brood. She nursed the boys single-handedly whenever my work took me away from home in the earlier parts of my career. She loved her children dearly and would pray long into the night for each individual one. She would pass notes of encouragement to each one of them at any of their times of need. She would spend long hours on the phone to them encouraging them with interjections of “Umvela? Umvela?” ("Are you listening? Are you sure you're listening?")

3. A business partner. At work, she shielded me from situations that would have worn me down. She would detect anxiety in me over certain situations and would come down the steps of my office with her usual cheerful greeting of ,“ Yes, ba Daddy,” and would go on to steady my nerves about the particular situation. The office would hear her characteristic laugh as she would joke with the Gardener and Director alike.

4. A spiritual partner. She was a true partner in gospel preaching and in the work of the Lord from the humble labours at Mufulira’s Pax Hall Assembly, through to Lilanda Gospel Hall, on to Katete, Lilanda again, then Gaborone, Selebi Phikwe and Lilanda. She made our home fellowships very easy by readily opening our home to one and sundry and to Assembly gatherings.

5. A loving Daughter. She had constant concern for parents from both our sides and would often meet needs that I was not even aware of. She was a loving and caring daughter.

There are many attributes that I could go on to describe with respect to the friend that she was, the neighbour that she was, the Auntie that she was and the spiritual mother that she was to many but time would fail me.

Levi Zulu laying a wreath on his late wife Abigail's tombstone
That, dear Lord, is the rose that you picked that Friday morning of 9th July 2010. You afforded me the opportunity to hear her laugh just two hours before you called her away. I know that I will see her in a soon coming day because of the hope of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

* * * * * *

Isaac wrote:

Mum was always loving and caring. She would never stop giving advice. How I remember how she would spend long hours in my room even after the family had prayed together to close the night. She would come into my room and continue long into the night sharing the word of God and giving me advice about life.

She had such a concern for us as her children and would be affected by each of our situations. We knew that she was praying for us. On one occasion when she was with me in Perth, this is what she wrote on 20th November 2009:

Levi standing with friends from their university days 30 years ago
“Hi Sonny,

As you will be facing your last exam for the semester, listen to this...2 Corinthians 12 vs 9. God says here that “My grace is sufficient for you for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” God is great and He gives grace to do, manage and to bear up in all life’s circumstances. He alone is strong above ALL, the God of grace and full of compassion; our dependable God who is from everlasting to everlasting; God who loves you so dearly and tenderly. May He cause you to excel and be successful in this exam and cause your life to shine for Him. Always give thanks to Him for all things. Loving Mum.”

Such was Mum’s constant concern and care for me and my brother, sister and cousins. May her soul rest in eternal peace.


  1. Thank you Pastor Mbewe for sharing this post. I have been blessed to be married almost one year to my wonderful Godly husband. This tribute made me cry out to God that I may remember the faithful example of Abigail Zulu, always blessing my husband, children, and others. Thank you for sharing inspiring stories such as these.

  2. You are welcome, Amy-Ellen. I try by God's grace to create windows through which the world can see good role models. We have too much of the bad stuff in the tabloids everyday. We need to see more of God's precious roses!