Though the chapter of Nancy ‘Chi-Chi’ Muinjo’s life abruptly ended last week Thursday when she succumbed to breast cancer, heaps of praises continued to pour in for this larger than life character, who was a beacon of hope to fellow Namibians across all spheres.
Chi-Chi exuded an aura that touched many, even those who did not know her personally, as was testified during the home memorial service on Wednesday night. She lived, laughed and loved regardless of the pain and challenges she endured in her short life.
Instead, she used that to help those around her and to spread the message of hope to other Namibians afflicted with cancer.
The young and loved media personality made friends everywhere she went and despite her busy schedule she made time for those close to her and those afar.
But, it was her ability to turn her great pain and fear to inspire others that won her the admiration and respect of many.
“Nancy had a different mission on this earth. She never showed signs of pain,” said Emma Kambangula, a breast cancer survivor, who grew close to Chi-Chi in 2013, when the latter’s cancer recurred.
“I met her when she was going through chemotherapy,” reminisced an emotional Kambangula, who albeit spoke fondly of Chi-Chi.
Chi-Chi, who died just five days after her 29th birthday, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the tender age of 22. “She was different from all the people I’ve worked with,” eulogised Kambangula, who works closely with cancer patients. She said Chi-Chi always showed profound strength despite the excruciating pain she endured so much so that she later did not see her as a sick person.
“She never showed the pain, she never complained,” a mournful Kambangula said in an interview with New Era early this week.
“When I go to their house (the Muinjo residence) I realise she is gone. But, I don’t want to cry, she was just a special person,” Kambangula said, as she tried hard to hold back her tears..
“…She is in a better place now,” she added before breaking down in tears.
But, Kambangula is not the only person Chi-Chi touched with her personality and strong character. Chi-Chi’s young brother Clinton also reiterated, describing “her whole life” as memorable.
Clinton said the difference that Chi-Chi made in other people’s lives is profound and enormous that whenever he introduced himself as Chi-Chi’s brother people would ask concerning her.
“She taught me how to be a gentleman. She always loved to buy me things,” Clinton adds.
Sharing on some of the sibling rivalry, Clinton’s face brightens. “…I would deliberately take her favourite drinks or food and when she asked who took it I would say ‘it’s me’,” he recalls with a bright smile. He says that his sister taught him how to be a public speaker.
“She taught me how to stand up for myself,” Clinton adds.
Kevin Kadhila, a close cousin of Chi-Chi, also spoke fondly of Chi-Chi.
In fact, Kadhila was literally like a brother, as he grew up under the same roof with Chi-Chi.
He says, “The most common things we used to talk about were motivation”. Chi-Chi was such a positive person that she always inspired him to be the best he could be at all levels, reminisces Kevin.
Another close cousin shared that Chi-Chi always dreamt of working for CNN when she was young.
He also said most people did not know that despite her love for media, Chi-Chi was a very academic person. “Over the past six years when she was battling cancer she did not give up on her academics,” noted David.
At the time of her death, Chi-Chi was enrolled for a Masters of Arts degree in Media Studies. She was also studying for Master of Business Administration (MBA).
“I will miss her positivity around,” he asserted.
Thomas Iitula, Chi-Chi’s manager also has fond memories. “She was always inspirational, you would never really find her down,” Iitula said.
But, was Chi-Chi always such a strong, friendly and multi-talented child when growing up? Her mother, Menesia Muinjo, a journalist by profession, took time to speak to New Era this week.
She said, her daughter who loved the colours purple and white showed signs of being “a different person” very early in life.
Among others, Muinjo noticed how eloquent her brave daughter was early in her life. Throughout her school life, Chi-Chi participated in various activities and she tried out many things – from sports, modelling, singing, helping out at the old-age home and later in high school she joined Unam radio.
“If she wanted something she went for it. She was a person who was forward looking,” Muinjo said of her daughter. Chi-Chi always found a way of positively dealing with things, she recollected.
“…She gave attention to things that were progressive. She showed me signs of being strong. It’s amazing how many people are touched by her positivity,” added her grief-stricken mother.
Chi-Chi would go for chemotherapy, which is challenging because of its effects, and still managed to go to work and attend to her other responsibilities, Muinjo said.
Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana also attested to this, saying that even while Chi-Chi was undergoing chemotherapy she would still send the minister work-related messages.
Chi-Chi was Iivula-Ithana’s personal assistant.
“If there is anything I will inherit from that child, it is hope,” Iivula-Ithana told mourners on Wednesday night. She considered herself “one of the luckiest politicians”, to have worked with Chi-Chi.
Mourners referred to Chi-Chi as one of the heroes of this generation. “She fought a battle that this generation understands,” remarked a youthful entrepreneur, Michael Amushelelo.
He feels she deserves a “plot” to build a foundation in her honour in order for her legacy to continue.
Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) secretary Dr Elijah Ngurare at Chi-Chi’s memorial on Wednesday urged every young person to ensure Chi-Chi’s legacy lives on, even “if it means (giving) a plot for the foundation and help bring awareness. The death of Nancy affected not only this generation but those who are younger.”