On 5 June 2014, Ancilla Nyirenda, a key figure in the SADSEM network, died tragically in a motor vehicle accident in Malawi. She was a staff associate of the Centre for Security Studies at Mzuzu University in Malawi, and a masters student at the Wits School of Governance. Following her death, her colleagues at the Wits School of Governance released the following tribute:
Ancilla was involved in many activities. She was known for her compassion, and listened and paid attention to those around her who were in need. She was quick to share her time, and was always available to help her friends. Her kindness remains a great tribute to her. Her laughter let people know that she was around, and her jovial mood was infectious. You could not stay low when you were around her, and she lifted up everyone who was in her presence.
Ancilla was reading for a Masters of Management in the Field of Security, which she could use to continue her academic career at Mzuzu University. Ancilla had just completed her master’s degree and handed in her draft research report, on the reasons for the underrepresentation of female officers in the Malawi defence force. She also managed a gender review of SADSEM’s academic programmes on defence and security.
Ancilla played a key role in the SADSEM network – notably by liaising between the network’s old and new secretariat, originally based at the Centre for Defence and Security Management (CDSM) at Wits University and currently based at the Centre for Security Studies (CSS) at Mzuzu University.
Ancilla was developing into an emerging scholar with great potential. Her highly relevant area of specialisation would have contributed significantly to her country and the continent, providing the qualities Southern Africa desperately needs. Her passing is a cruel blow to those of us who remain behind, overwhelmed by the realisation of what was and could have been. We miss you, Ancilla, and we feel blessed to have had you in our lives.