My parents married in St Anne’s & St Agnes Lutheran Church in the city, where there was a large Swahili speaking community who celebrated mass in Swahili. My older brother Elia and I were baptised in that same Church. My Father read a passage in the bible where Jesus said to Peter: ‘And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.’ Matthew 16:18
Asi’s tribute to her father, Shadrak Munisi
On Saturday 5th September 2015 my Father Shadrack Munisi was called to eternal life, he took his last breath looking at my Mother from his bed in St Georges Hospital, Tooting, London. After a long period of illness having had three strokes, the last of which onset Vascular Dementia which set off a serious decline in his health. It was slow at first, but the last couple of years his health deteriorated more quickly and he reached the end stages of Dementia, no longer communicating with anyone, unable to eat and slept most of the time. He spent 8 years in Hazel Court nursing home and the last 2 months of his life before being admitted to hospital was spent at Meadbank Nursing Home.
A great man of faith, raised Lutheran in Kilimanjaro Tanzania, came to London to study at University College London where he earned his Bachelors in social science and went on to do his Masters in social science at Cranfield University. My Father met my Mother in London, where East Africans had frequent social gatherings and used to often take my Mother to Spaghetti house in Russell Square. Can’t quite remember how I came about that information, but whenever we pass it I always say to the kids; ‘that’s where your Babu used to take your Nana when they were courting.’ They would often reply; ‘We know you told us this already, every time Mama.’
My Father believed this to be the Catholic Church, so converted to Catholicism and when we moved from Peckham to Battersea joined the Sacred Heart Church. The Church and his faith was the foundation of our upbringing. My Father served as a Catechist; a teacher of the principles of Christian religion, especially one using a catechism for adults. The role of a Catholic Catechist is to catechize (teach) the Faith of the Catholic Church both by word and example. When I hear how people speak about him, from what they say, he certainly did that. My Father also served as a Eucharistic Minister.
Every night before bed my Father would summon my brothers and I for prayers. Mon – Thurs was the standard Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory be, which started with a story from the Catholic children’s bible, either by me or my older brother Elia. Followed by a hymn we would sing together in Swahili from the Swahili hymn book. Friday nights were rosary nights. These were long as we would say decade after decade until we went round the whole rosary.
My Father was a strong believer in healing ministries and took us to Rome to meet Arch-Bishop Milingo, who gave him a special oil for my younger brother Danny and at the end of prayers every night my father would make the sign of the cross using the oil on Danny’s tongue. Mornings began with prayer after breakfast before we went out to school and Dad off to work. Many of our family holidays were pilgrimages to Rome a couple of times, where my Dad and younger brother Danny met Pope John Paul II.
Way back in 1976 my Father founded the Pan African Foundation; his original idea was to build a Black studies library that would house the books of everything about African history and books written by African authors. Many years later when the foundation gained charitable status in the UK with Arch-Bishop Desmond Tutu as their patron the remit was extended to send up to date text books to African rural schools otherwise known as backyard schools. My Father was passionate about education hence the foundation’s motto: ‘Knowledge is enlightenment’. He believed that a good education develops ones thinking and the village children could work themselves out of poverty by each child realising their potential through education.
I am who I am today largely because of the good solid foundations my Father raised me from. Those same prayerful practices he showed my brother’s and I; I have practiced with my children and I hope and pray that my children will practice the same with their children. He truly lived out his faith both in word and action. After his second or third stroke, I can’t remember which, I was driving my Father home from the hospital and asked him: ‘ What’s the point of this life Dad?’ He replied with such certainty: ‘To serve God, that is it.’ May his soul rest in peace.
My Father’s body will then be flown to Kilimanjaro Tanzania, where he will be buried on his farm, on Munisi land.