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Humble life follows Catholic doctor to grave

Primrose Ndlovu
ALTHOUGH the death ofA� philanthropist and founder of St Lukea��s hospital in Matabeleland North Province Dr Johanna Franziska Davis (96) came as a shock last week, the contents of her will, however, left people even more shocked.

In a seemingly hard to believe case, Dr Davis is reported to have clearly stated in her will that she wanted a low-cost funeral with the cheapest coffin and just tea and snacks served so that all the money will be given to charity.

She died last week at a home for retired catholic staff in Kumalo (Bulawayo) after spending more than half a century in Matabeleland helping the poor, her motivation and drive coming from her vocation to serve people.

Dr Davis who played a major role in the establishment of St Annea��s hospital and countless catholic churches in Matabeleland.A� Her commitment to serve people even at her death was made a reality as the family, church, friends and colleagues lived up to her wishes bidding her farewell in a humble way she had always wanted.

She lived a humble life and this even followed her to her final place of rest.A� Her funeral was out of the ordinary as the German who usually referred to herself as African, did not want to be buried in Germany but in Zimbabwe.

Not only did she want to be buried in Zimbabwe she also wanted to share a grave with her friend Dr Johanna Fransisca Decker who was also a missionary doctor that was murdered in 1977 and laid to rest in Athlone Cemetery.

She was nicknamed MaKhumalo.

a�?MaKhumalo said only death would separate her and Dr Decker but I guess it has not since they are actually sharing their place of rest,a�? said one Roman Catholic member in Kumalo.

Her parents named her Johanna Franziska after a saint Johanna Fransisca. She was fondly known as Makhumalo, a reputable name as it is the name of royalty in the area under chief Mabhikwa in Lupane, Matabeleland North.

a�?She could have easily worked in any developed country as a medical doctor earning a higher salary, living a comfortable life but she chose a missionary path and served people with great love and initiated the existence of St Lukea��s hospital and St Annea��s hospital in Brunapeng both in Matabeleland,a�? said the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Bulawayo Alex Thomas.

In her autobiography, Mission Accomplished, Dr Davis wrote that she had no will to become rich, just the desire to serve god and she surely lived up to her words.

She was buried in Bulawayo on Wednesday and was accorded a Liberation Heroe status.