Keep your titles


Farther along we’ll know all about it

Farther along we’ll understand why

Cheer up my brother live in the sunshine


We’ll understand it all by and by


When Roosevelt Ndimbwa died in 2007, everything at Chancellor College came to a halt. Here was a guy who, despite his imposing stature, was so amiable and always measured his words. We were supposed to hold a social weekend the Friday he died, it was cancelled.


In our time, Chancellor College was divided into two worlds: the secular and the pious. So, every time there was a social weekend, the holier-than-thou clique made sure they organise a night of prayer or anything to that effect just to “protect the flock from getting tempted to the pleasures of the other world.” So, the day Roos—as I often called him— passed, there was supposed to be a social weekend and some prayer session in the Great Hall. Well, since the social weekend was postponed, and as per tradition, we held a memorial service that coincided with the scheduled prayers at the Great Hall. We all flocked to the Great Hall—drunk or sober.

It was that evening that I saw in fresh, Evangelist Shadrack Wame. His preaching that night always reverberates with an undying resonance. Most of my peers will remember how that grey-haired man jumped and pranced in front of the students, not to impress them but to tell them what is in store for them in the afterlife. I will always remember the allegory of a heaven meeting that decides who else to pluck from the earth.

The death of Shadrack Wame really filled me with so much to say yet I find no word in my bulging lexicon that can describe the man

Whatever religion you and I subscribe to, we can all agree that he believed in his mission and lived for it.

The last time I heard about him was a month ago when he was justifying his refusal to be conferred honorary doctorate in theology. His argument was interesting. According to him, no one deserves a doctorate in theology because it is the word of God that is supposed to doctor people’s life.

Look, here was a man who did not stay longer in school but was given a chance to adorn his name with the much-coveted honorific of doctor. But to him titles did not matter but his mission was to keep the ecclesiastical heaven full and hell empty.

Shadrack Wame was the very symbol of humility and lived by the word. In a world where the moment one learns to interpret a verse or two, the next moment for them is to open a commercial church and wear titles of bishop, apostle, prophet or what have you, Shadrack Wame remained a Presbyterian to boot. Wame refused the glories of this world where the so-called prophets, apostles or bishops move around with craggy-faced bodyguards and call themselves the way to salvation.

If you go to church, mostly these commercial ones, the messages you are likely to get are about getting a good job, finding a life partner, giving to the church and all earthly things. But Wame’s mission was simply to get people to heaven.

Wame was blunt in his preaching. He knew nothing to fear because he believed he was commissioned. Personally, I find Shadrack Wame a Malawian version of Reinhard Bonnke. These are people whose mission has always been to show people the way other than embarking on church affairs as a business.

Look around you and you will agree that people have learnt to mock Christianity and have turned it into something of a pastime. Even the Bible is interpreted at people’s fancy. We now practise something akin to Christianity and we do not care. We have gospel adultery, gospel stealing, gospel cheating and everything. Even apostleship has become sexually transmitted whereby all you need is to get married to an apostle for you to become one.

I find the life of Shadrack Wame completely exemplary. Maybe that is why he departed this life unceremoniously. He must have been too good for this life. If you believe in the ethereal, then heaven is blessed by Wame’s presence there.

A bright young man opined the other day why of all types of death, Wame had to be butchered that way. If you are semi-pious like me, you will always refer such people to John 11: 19 when Jesus was battered to no recognition and Pontius Pilate wanted to prove he was king and told Jesus to surrender. Jesus’ response was: “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given to you from above…” So whoever killed Shadrack Wame was not that mighty but was commissioned by a mightier power for Shadrack Wame fought a good fight, finished the race and kept the faith.

So, what can I say of Shadrack Wame? He was, to me, a servant of God who humoured people with the Gospel and left them laughing their way to salvation. If you give him earthly titles his response was outright, keep your titles.

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