At a joyous colourful farewell appreciation service held at the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross on 11th June, 2017, Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) General Secretary Rev Dr Suzanne Matale was referred to as a unique icon of the church in Zambia whose name will go down in history.
During the service attended by several representatives from civil society organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations, partner organisations, member churches, heads of churches and many ordinary Christians, Rev Dr Matale was celebrated as a prominent female clergy who has made an unforgettable mark as an advocate of social justice in Zambia.
Speaking at the occasion characterized by song and dance, CCZ President Bishop Dr Alfred Kalembo described Rev Dr Matale as “captain of the ship” who stirred the organization to higher heights during her 10 year tenure of office as CCZ General Secretary.
In expressing appreciation for her service to the organisation, Dr Kalembo said, while it is a close of a chapter in the life of Rev Dr Matale, her works will go down in history not only as the second female General Secretary since its formation in 1914 but also as a steward of the organization who exhibited tenacity, resilience, hard work and commitment since she was appointed to the position.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) presiding prelate in the 17th Episcopal District Rt Rev Dr Wilfred Jacobus Messiah through his Administrative Assistant Rev Cosmas Wakunguma gave an account of how he discovered with joy and excitement that one of the vibrant daughters of the AME church, in the name of Rev Dr Suzanne Matale was heading an umbrella church mother body as it’s General Secretary
“I am sure nearly everybody who is here today will agree with me that during her tenure of office she had extended a helping hand to a lot of people with whom she had contact with. As a sending Church present to witness her exit from her noble office, we present her a token gift of love as a sign of appreciation and encouragement,” Bishop Messiah said.
The exciting mood of the celebration was spiced with songs and messages of appreciation from family and friends describing Rev Dr Matale as an honourable family member who brought pride and joy to everyone as she executed her duties as General Secretary of the Council.
Her three children james, Mwamba and Joseph participated in the service through bible readings while Rev Dr Matale herself gave a powerful homily focusing on the golden principles of life to which the gathering cheered as she concluded.
And James Matale, husband to Rev Dr Matale who stood next to her as she was showered with gifts from representatives from the various congregations, women’s movement, the non-governmental organisations, the cooperating partners , individuals, friends and relatives, he explained to the gathering that during her course of duty Rev Dr Matale was very dedicated and committed to her duties but she put family above everything else , which made her a source of pride for the Matale family adding that he supported her through and through during her entire tenure of office.
“She scratched many people’s backs in the course of her duty, we apologise for that, however there is nothing to withdraw,” Mr Matale said.
A representative of the partner organisation the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) Margret Machila, Head of Programmes said working with a woman of excellence a key mobiliser, caretaker and advocate has been a memorable and great honour.
“as custodian of Danish money, Norwegian money, UK money donor money in the last ten years, you demonstrated high level principles of transparency, accountability and also showed excellence in the management of the resources which makes you a household name and we are holding on to you by declaring before this crowd that you remain a champion of social justice,” Ms Machila said.
In adding a voice to the many appreciation messages delivered at the service, Non-Governmental Organisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC) Chairperson Sara Longwe thanked Rev Dr Matale for the service she has offered to the women of Zambia as a spiritual leader who excelled to a high position and offered exceptional leadership as CCZ General Secretary.
In a moving vote of thanks Rev Dr Matale explained that her work as General Secretary has been a worthwhile journey, having to be at the helm of a vibrant organization representing people of faith with the many responsibilities bestowed upon her among others as an advocate for the marginalized people who continue to face social and economic challenges.
She said she was humbled to speak at her farewell appreciation service to state the relationship she shared with everyone who was present.
“I personally believe that through my work as General Secretary, I touched many lives by adding a voice to issues of national interest which shaped opinion and created debate to improve people’s lives which translated into development.
I, on many occasions sounded controversial, offered divergent views and in so doing created enemies, but that is ok, to me the messages carried were more important than the number of enemies I collected in my line of duty because in all that I know that I had a God given mandate to speak for the people I represented”, she stated.
In particular, Rev Dr Matale thanked the CCZ Board for the confidence they expressed by choosing her among the many to head the institution adding that the board has been offering the much needed support to her office which helped her in the implementation of the council’s vision and mission which was a great honor.
She also thanked the Heads of Churches for their unwavering support, individual church members for their participation in various events organized by the council, the local, regional and international partners, who offered financial support towards the work of CCZ, such as the Norwegian Church Aid, Church of Canada, Diakonia, USAID and the Finnish Embassy. To the CCZ members of staff, Rev Dr Matale described them as an incredible people who offered moral, spiritual and emotional support which helped her to execute her duties without difficult.
Rev Dr Matale expressed optimism in her future endeavors saying she looked forward to taking a good rest but still remain active to her calling in ministry as a servant of God.
CCZ President Bishop Dr Alfred Kalembo shakes hands with Mr James Matale while Rev Dr Matale looks on