“I Will See Your Face” – Remembering Kasalika Banda

It had not taken us long to grow very fond of E. Kasalika Banda and his family. Our church in the states had supported him for years. He was committed 100% to his mission, no distraction could change his course from what he saw as God’s mission for his life. He very quickly made us aware of his complete support, loyalty, and concern for our well-being while we were in the country. He had been the first Malawian we spent time with after arriving. It soon became a very close relationship. 

There were and are many things about him that stand out in our minds and remembrance. One of them took place late one evening as he and I were walking from his house over near the main road, to the mission house where we were staying. At that time, in the early 90s, the Mponela Trading Center had much less lighting than they have today. There were no streetlights, no floodlights to make walking easier, and few houses had anything more than a few candles with which to see. I guess I could conclude only the well-to-do possessed flashlights (torches) or kerosene lanterns. You can perhaps imagine how dark it was along that long path to the house.

As we walked along talking about life, and the events of the day we both marveled at the beauty of the stars in the southern hemisphere. I had paid little attention to the stars in the northern hemisphere back home and could not identify even the main ones, I was amazed to realize the configuration of the southern hemisphere was so different and how much I could easily recognize that difference. 

Suddenly he stopped in the path. Our eyes had adjusted to the darkness, and I could see he was looking toward me in the near-total dark. Kasalika was one of the wisest men I had ever met, but I knew his formal education did not match that of most western men. He knew some geography, but not enough to determine where other parts of the world were in relation to his surroundings. His question took me by surprise. “Point where your home is,” he asked. I turned toward the northwest and pointed over his shoulder in the direction of the northern hemisphere. He stood for a long moment looking northwest

“Now,” he said, with a warm fondness in his voice, “Every time you are not here, I will be able to look in that direction and see your face.”

I stood in the silence of that night, and for several long moments, I basked in the warmth of that friendship, contemplating the importance this man had become to my wife and me. After her and I returning to the states that year, l would often go outside, look to the southeast, and imagine I could see him in the distance. I wondered how many times he was doing the same from 8,500 miles away. It had been one of those special moments I will never forget. Though Kasalika Banda has been gone for several years, I can still imagine going outside in the darkness and catching a glimpse of him standing on that long, dark path, looking northwest so he could see my face.

Kasalika Banda was just one of the people who formed unshakable bonds with members of the Malawi Project and insured the long-term commitment that was made to serving the kind and gentle people of Malawi.

Kasalika Banda
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