Tributes pour in for MHRC chairperson who dies of COVID-19 related complications
* This man used to write with utmost sobriety
* You taught. You preached. You lived. Rest well
* He went out of his way to be there for others
By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) chairperson, Reverend Patrick Semphere has died of COVID-19 related complications and tributes continue to pour in for the man — and all convey the deepest respect the man of God, who also happens to be a journalist of great repute.
Semphere, who died in the early hours of Thursday, January 21, was elected MHRC chairperson — the state human rights body — in March last year by the previous Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government led by President Peter Mutharika.
He once served as board chairperson of the Media Council of Malawi and was also instrumental in the establishment and development of TransWorld Radio (TWR) in Malawi.
Before joining MHRC, he was Communications Specialist for Malawi Education Sector Improvement Project.
Writing on his Facebook profile, Member of Parliament for Dowa North East, Sam Dalitso Kawale — who is chairperson of the Parliamentary Media Committee first shared a quote that Rev. Semphere once said: “Communication is NOT what you say, but what the other person has understood”.
“Those words were permanently engraved in my mind the day Rev. Patrick Semphere facilitated a marriage serminar at Silver Stadium club house some years ago.
“I first met him when I was doing internship at TWR in Blantyre during my college years. Then he took me as a producer and presenter of programs at TWR in Lilongwe after college, passionately groomed me in the media industry, blessed me and sent me to Plan Malawi to start Timveni project.
“In 2014, I called him when I became chairperson of Media Committee during my first term of office, to thank him for helping me succeed in my career, and he continued to inspire and encourage me without ceasing.
“And today, after fulfilling his work on earth, Rev. Patrick Semphere rests,” said Kawale of the man who impressively moderated the 2020 fresh presidential election debates.
Journalist Madalitso Musa said: “This man used to write with utmost sobriety. Rest well, rest. Patrick Semphere. You taught. You preached. You lived.”
“A humble servant of the Lord our God is gone,” says Anderson Kamwendo. “You did a lot for the Church and the nation. Saddened by your passing Pastor Patrick Semphere. Ambuye tathodwa ana anu.”
Roreen Mzembe: “Heaven has gained! And we have lost really big. He was a father and a mentor. Rest In Peace.”
Jastern Kambala reminisced that Rev. Semphere’s leadership attributes started way back in his academic days, saying he served as chairperson of the Student Christian Organisation of Malawi (SCOM) for their secondary school. “A great friend. Rest well Pastor.”
Eleanor Banda took cognizance that Semphere “impacted many lives; he was available for us; he went out of his way to be there for others” while James Chauluka said: “We thank God for the gift given to him and really he has delivered glory to God.”
Tiyamika Mzowa expressed her deepest shock: “What are you saying, Lord? You are taking so many men and women of God — today my dear Uncle Patrick Semphere is gone.
“I remember how as a little girl he used to take me along to see his then fiance Patricia Semphere and before long I was a proud flowergirl at their wedding. Just a few days ago he wrote of the impact evangelist Stephen Lungu had on his life and marriage. And today he too is gone!
“Where is the world going? I am heartbroken to learn of your passing Uncle. I can only imagine the devastation and helplessness Aunty and your three beautiful children must be feeling now. Ambuye tikhululukireni, tilire bwanji? May your soul rest in peace.”
Sunganani Manjolo wrote a poem:
Another brother gone/
Rev Patrick Semphere/
My big brother and friend/
Since the day we met when I was a teen, he decided to ‘brother’ me/
Taught us a lot about marriage/
His love for the Lord ever steadfast/
His love for his wife and children simmering through the years/
From two years ago, we would pray together every Friday via WhatsApp/
He would ask for prayer when his work at the commission got hot. Such humility!/
Aunt Patricia Semphere and family, may the Lord carry you through this difficult time/
To the Word Alive family, we mourn together/
Zikundiwawa but the Lord will see us through
Rev. Semphere was to served as MHRC chairperson for the 7th cohort of members of the Commission of Dr. Sunduzwayo Madise, Baldwin Chiyamwaka, Dr. Bertha Sefu, Scarder Louis, Law Commissioner Rosemary Kumitsonyo Kanyuka, Boniface Massah, Stella Twea and Ombudsman Martha Chizuma.
Semphere replaced Justin Dzonzi whose term of office as commissioner expired in 2019.