Anthony Mulenga Zimba
1954 - 2020
Tribute from the International Bureau for Epilepsy
It is with great sadness that IBE announces the death of its esteemed Treasurer, Anthony Mulenga Zimba. A victim of COVID-19, Anthony passed away in hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, on the morning of Sunday 9th August. Anthony had a long history of service to IBE, having served on the African Regional Committee from 2005 to 2009 and on its International Executive Committee for the last 11 years, firstly as Vice President for the African Region from 2009 to 2017 and as Treasurer from 2017 until his passing. During this time, he worked tirelessly on behalf of people with epilepsy and those who care for them. His particular focus was on his beloved Africa and, as a result of his efforts, many IBE chapters in the region were supported through the IBE Promising Strategies Program in a range of projects aimed at improving their quality of life through training, advocacy and employment opportunities. He was also a member of the organising committee of the African Regional Epilepsy Congresses that took place in Nairobi, Cape Town, Dakar and Entebbe.
Anthony was the founder of the Epilepsy Association of Zambia in 2001, which became a chapter of IBE soon thereafter. To improve his knowledge and skills in the epilepsy and allied fields, he undertook a number of professional courses including the Professional Diploma in Epilepsy Care from Leeds Metropolitan University, UK; the Certificate in Clinical Epilepsy from the Foundation for Professional Development, South Africa; and the Certificate in Project Management at the University of Zambia. Previously, in 1982, he had studied for a Diploma in Clinical Medical Sciences at the College of Health Sciences in Lusaka.
He worked as an Epilepsy Specialist at Levy Mwanawasa Hospital in Lusaka and established epilepsy clinics at government health institutions in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. He also had a private practice - the Country Travellers’ Health Care Clinic - which specialises in psychiatry and epilepsy. To his colleagues and patients, his death will be a tremendous loss.
Anthony leaves behind his wife, Dr Meaumui Mumbela, and four adult children from his first marriage - Alex, Anthony, James and Cindy. On behalf of the IBE International Executive Committee and all his colleagues at IBE, we extend our deepest sympathy at this very sad time to his family. We hope that memories they hold of Anthony as a husband and father and deserved pride in his dedication to people living with epilepsy both in Zambia and across the entire African region, will help them at this very difficult time.
May he rest in peace.
Martin Brodie, President, IBE
Mary Secco, Secretary General, IBE
Ann Little, Executive Director, IBE
Tribute to Ba Anthony Mulenga Zimba
Ba Anthony Mulenga Zimba was something else. I remember him as very friendly, always smiling, active man when I first met him in Singapore in July 2007 at the 27th International Epilepsy Congress. I had gone to that meeting with another Ugandan colleague to inaugurate the Epilepsy Society of Uganda as a Chapter in the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE).
Ba Anthony was very excited that Uganda had become a Chapter of the ILAE since he was aware that it was already a Chapter of the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE). He expressed to me his desires that his country Zambia would soon follow suit but still had some hurdles to overcome. Over the years Ba Anthony became a good friend, and advisor to me since he had been longer in the African cause for the persons with epilepsy.
We met regularly at several other epilepsy congress meetings and he was one of the members that was instrumental in contributing to the establishment of the first Commission on African Affairs (CAA) of the ILAE held in Dakar, Senegal in November 2010. Ba Anthony had Africa at heart and the people with epilepsy always on his mind. This was obvious even when he was sometimes misunderstood for being obstinate and pompous when he spoke his mind about what he felt was the best approach to handling contentious issues. He often told me “Look Angelina my sister, as Africans we know our issues, and these are best solved by us, Africans”.
The epilepsy world has lost a good father for its cause, especially for the African continent. I have felt a deep vacuum overwhelm me since I learned of his passing. But I'm getting through with time by reminding myself of the enthusiasm that Ba Anthony left behind, and the many lives he touched not only in Zambia where he practiced but internationally with whoever he interacted with. This memorial is a time for happiness, a time to celebrate his life, but that doesn't mean it isn't depressing. Ba Anthony could best be described as a torch, which is a stick with combustible material at one end, that is ignited and used as a light source. In ancient Roman times some torches were made of Sulphur mixed with lime which meant that the fire it emitted would not diminish after being plunged into water. We wish to keep a similar torch that Ba Anthony set aflame for Africa burning, and also ensure that it be a source of hope and enlightenment for the struggle for improved epilepsy care in Africa.
I hope you will join me in remembering and celebrating Ba Anthony today and always. Today is our chance to say thank you for the way he brightened our lives, with his humor, stories and passion for the cause that no person’s life is limited by epilepsy.
May you rest in eternal peace, comrade Ba Anthony Mulenga Zimba.
Dr. Angelina Kakooza Mwesige
Past President Epilepsy Society of Uganda
Tribute to Anthony Mulenga Zimba from Angelina Kakooza (download tribute as PDF)
Rest in perfect peace, Anthony Mulenga Zimba
I first met Anthony in 2012 when he came to Uganda to benchmark our organizational activities (Epilepsy Support Association Uganda). I met him again during the 1stAfrican Epilepsy congress in Nairobi. He pushed many meetings through during the African congress in Nairobi at such a pace that amazed me. My last physical meeting with him was during the 4th African Congress in Entebbe in 2019. Since then I kept in touch and discussed several issues on epilepsy up till last week on Friday. I was shocked and saddened to hear of his passing, because his jovial voice from our recent chat was still fresh in me and gave the indication that he was soon to be up and about.
Anthony was a hard working person who believed in nothing for Africa without Africans and worked even on his sick bed to see this achieved. He continued working to make the epilepsy movement stronger. Always ready to give a helping hand at whatever cost, reaching out to you at night, during the weekend if he felt a task was left incomplete.
Anthony was a Pan Africanist, passionate about epilepsy, psychiatry and working in this field to contribute towards making positive changes in the landscape of epilepsy in Africa and the world over. Anthony was a strong advocate for primary health care workers to manage epilepsy in the healthcare system in Africa considering that the ratio of neurologists to people with epilepsy in Africa is quite appalling. Many people with epilepsy can hardly afford quality time for epilepsy diagnosis with neurologists considering the strain on the finances. Anthony, mentored many medical officers, inspired them to take keen interest in epilepsy nationally, regionally and internationally.
He was an assertive, spirited, just person who believed in truth and transparency, a person who fought to the end when he believed in a cause. A true African Father, mentor to many epilepsy associations in Africa and world over. We in the epilepsy movement will continue to hold his virtues strongly and work to support the unmatched legacy he has left behind.
He fought a good fight!
A Luta Continua! (the struggle continues)..… Till we meet again. Rest in perfect peace, our true African Father and soldier of epilepsy.
Epilepsy Support Association Uganda, Secretary General Epilepsy Society of Uganda
Tribute to Anthony Mulenga Zimba from Sarah Nekesha (download tribute as PDF)
Tribute from Jacob Rugare Mugumbate
BaZimba was a father, husband and a family Elder. His untimely death was a huge blow to his immediate and larger family, and it surprised and saddened many. May his soul rest in peace.
For me, I lost a friend, mentor, leader, brother and a fellow Africanist. When I told my little daughter that he had died, she couldn’t believe it too because they had spoken about two weeks prior when she interrupted my discussion with him. Anthony had an underlying condition, and when he got corona virus, he did not recover quickly enough, and after about two weeks in hospital, he died.
I learnt about Anthony in 2003. I was a trainee social worker at the Epilepsy Support Foundation of Zimbabwe when I saw a letter he had written to our association seeking support to start an association in Zambia (the Epilepsy Association of Zambia). Zimbabwe and Zambia share a border and also share the famous Mosi oa Tunya Falls across the Zambezi River. Later he came to Zimbabwe during our epilepsy week in 2007 and in 2009 I went to Zambia to see what they were doing. Over the years, we worked together and exchanged ideas on a number of topics and met several times at regional and international meetings.
Anthony was active at both country, continental and global level. In Zambia, he led his government’s epilepsy program as an epilepsy specialist and in Africa he visited several countries to learn about what they were doing and to encourage them. His participation at international level was motivated by a desire to create opportunities for Africa to genuinely collaborate, partner and participate. His strongest view was that our international partners should respectfully work with us not to work for us. This is the message he left the IBE, where he was Treasurer. He was also mindful of the fact that global activities at times take away local creativity and self-reliance, hence he always encouraged us to go for Africa driven initiatives. In 2010 he showed us how to do this by organising a successful conference in Zambia that was attended by delegates from several countries.
His last email message to the Epilepsy Africa Alliance (EAA), a collection of associations and activists from over 30 African countries was TOGETHER WE WILL MOVE MOUNTAINS.
Rest in peace, zororai murugare baZimba.
Jacob Rugare Mugumbate
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