A somber atmosphere characterised the University of Zambia Great East Road Campus on Saturday evening, as a multitude of students held a candlelight vesper for their fellow, a fourth year student Vespers Shimuzhila.
Shimuzhila died of suffocation caused by the teargas that was fired by Zambia Police officers who went to quell the protest at the institution on Thursday evening.
The heart-rending candlelight vesper was proceeded by the signing of the book of condolences by different students, some of whom went with flowers, as others contributed money after signing the book.
The procession saw UNZA students unite, not in demanding meal allowances, but in mourning their colleague who died as a result of protests against delayed meal allowances.
Clad in black, the students gathered at October Car Park, near Shimuzhila hostel, singing sorrowful songs among, among them the Sarafina movie sound track “Sechaba”. The Students also sang “Kalombo Mwane” among other sorrowful songs.
The emotional procession which started around 20:00hrs, went on up to 23:00hrs. Lights were switched off and candles lit.
By 21 hours, October Car Park was filled by students, with a long queue of those who went to write in the book of condolences.
Individual Students and groups from different churches, took turns to sing and preach to fellow mourning students, encouraging them to emulate the humility that Shimuzhila exhibited when she was alive.
Farewell songs were composed and sung during the vigil, by musician students, who embedded soul moving messages in their valediction songs.
And different students who knew Shimuzhila at personal level, gave their experiences with the late, describing her as a calm, down to earth person.
Pascal Mulenga, a visually impaired student, who spoke on behalf of students living with disabilities, recounted his encounters with Shimuzhila whom he said was a gentle and soft hearted person.
“As I stand here, I am filled with sorrow at the loss of our sister Vespers. She was a very soft hearted, gentle individual who never uttered bitter words or involved herself in violent activities. She only knew school and Church. I remember one time, I was coming from the school of education and I got lost, I heard a voice of a young lady who called me by name. She asked me where I was going, and she told me I was going in the wrong direction. She held my hand and led me to Zambezi hostel where I stay. Vespers was a true definition of a humble, loving and gentle person. It is unfortunate that such a gentle soul died in such a cruel manner,” Mulenga narrated.
During the vigil, students also demanded for a detailed investigation and prosecution of all police officers who came to quell the protest.
Misheck Kakonde, who is also Zambia National Union of Students President, said students won’t keep quiet until the people responsible for the death of Shimuzhila were brought to book.
Meanwhile, a student representing the Seventh Day Adventist Church, announced that the late Shimuzhila would be put to rest on Tuesday, in Namwala District of Southern Province.
On Friday evening, after information emerged that a student had died of suffocation during the protest, government paid students K1, 500 meal allowances.
However, some students described the allowances as ‘blood money’ as it came after the death of Vespers Shimuzhila.