And Grace sets forth
She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more: it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
SHE grew cold on an eerie night of Wednesday. The moon that lost its vigour dragged itself along stars that shone dimly that night. Her last sigh was likely slow and reluctant, a striking difference to her resonant voice that pierced the corners of people’s hearts for many years.
It is true that death is an irritating and painful sting. And it is true that death is a coward that lurks in the undergrowth of our hopes, it moves stealthily until it strikes when we least expected. Even Grace Chinga, the songbird that has walked her last mile, did not know when death would come for her. But she knew someone more powerful had a script of her life written and only that one knew what turn her life would take for she pleads in ‘Ndiululireni’:
Inu Yehova ndiululireni
Chomwe munayika pamoyo wanga
(Jehovah reveal to me
What you planned for my life)
In the afternoon of the Wednesday she rode her heavenly chariot, Grace was surely lithe as she has always been. A soul that danced and sang her mission clearly: A mission to liberate mankind from the shackles of fear. Grace even refused to be death’s coveted trophy. To her, death had no power over her because she knew she would only depart once her mission has been accomplished. In Mundisungire Korona, Grace makes it known that no one, not even death would stop her from her mission:
Ndinabwera ndi mission
Palibe ondileketsa ntchito yanga ili mkati
Kufikira Mwiniwake adzanene kuti amen
(I came with a mission
I am an ambassador
Only when my work is done
Is when I will depart
No one has power to stop me
while my mission is still on
Until the Master says Amen)
Surely Grace’s mission has been completed and the Master has approved her departure. Death cannot claim victory over Grace. Death has only been a messenger to carry home a warrior that fought her fight, a warrior that knew where home is because, even when she was fighting she knew one day she would return home and she made sure home was ready:
(Keep a place for me
Keep my rosary)
In her living years, Grace’s voice soared with a resonance unmatched. Grace was an unorthodox gospel artist who seamlessly weaved social issues into the otherwise tight fabric of gospel music. She refused to play stature and always brought a kind of bounce on stage. But while she danced and jumped her voice refused to follow the antics of her body for the voice came out smoothly yet powerfully that even those that are hard to convince would, at least, shake their heads.
In a society that is so quick to judge like ours, Grace Chinga’s music would have long been forgotten had she not been blessed with the mettle that characterises her music. Once upon a time Grace made the headlines after one of the most publicised divorce cases in recorded time. When everybody thought Grace was finished, she, like a proverbial phoenix rose from the ashes and even soar higher than ever.
Grace’s music was always lively and courageous. She refused to be an ordinary gospel artist who only sings about the hereafter, sickness or blessings. She knew she was a citizen of this earth and what happened on earth was her business. She took hypocrisy head on in one of her last songs Nzaulura:
Chilichonse chichita pansi pa thambo ine nzaulura
Zoti chuma chako udachita kulanda nchamagazi
Kunja kwako ngati ndi nkhosa nkati ndi fisi ndiulula
Unanong’ona mkanyumba komata zituluka
Unati katundu anasowa koma unamuba ndiwe
Zoti unakonza chiwembu chonse ndiulula
Zoti uli ndi ana ambiri ntchiremu ine ndiulula
(I will reveal whatever happens under the sky
That you have blood money
I will reveal that you are a hyena in a sheep skin
I will reveal whatever you said in secret
that you stole the property that got missing
I will reveal that it is you who plotted the ambush
I will reveal that you have illegitimate children all over)
Perhaps Grace did not live long enough to reveal to the world the dirty that is hidden in people’s hearts. But still she managed to tell us that amongst us, we have hypocrites and we should be careful.
Grace was not only in the name but in the being. She was natures’ conspiracy to combine beauty, wit, talent and courage in one fine body. She was an obedient missionary who never surrendered to the whims of mankind but He who sent her on a mission and she never hid it for she sings in Udzayimba Nyimbo:
Mulungu akalamula kuti kwatha
(When God says it is finished
It is finished)
And indeed for Grace, it is finished.
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