A somber atmosphere enveloped Ndola on Friday morning as mourners from diverse backgrounds gathered to pay their respects to the late legendary local filmmaker, Jeff Sitali, who tragically lost his life in a fire incident last Tuesday.
Mr. Sitali, a revered figure in the Zambian film industry, passed away at the age of 75. The family spokesperson, Tonge Sitali, has announced that the late filmmaker is expected to be cremated in Ndola by Saturday.
The funeral service, held at the Bread of Life Church in Ndola, saw a notable turnout of mourners, including government representatives and prominent figures from the arts and entertainment industry. Former Arts Council Chairperson Mumba Kapumpa, former Information Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga, renowned comedian Bob Nkosha, and musician Saga were among those who paid their respects.
Addressing the gathering on behalf of the government, Ndola District Education Board Secretary Chanda Chewe expressed profound condolences and described Mr. Sitali as a national icon. She urged others to follow in his footsteps and continue his legacy of excellence.
“We need to emulate the good works that were done by our gallant man Mr. Jeff Sitali. I was still young at Fatima School when we used to see him on TV as he was representing Colgate Palmolive by that time,” Ms. Chewe said. “We used to look at him as an icon of the country, and even now he is an icon because he has done so much work not just for the family but for the country.”
Ambassador Kapumpa, in his tribute, remembered Mr. Sitali as a perfectionist and a true believer in God, highlighting his remarkable accomplishments dating back to the 1970s.
The late filmmaker’s widow, Diana, and daughter, Naleli, shared their memories of Mr. Sitali, describing him as a loving and forgiving individual.
Mr. Sitali leaves behind seven children and several grandchildren. His tragic demise occurred when he was reportedly overcome by smoke while disposing of burnt waste in his Northrise studio in Ndola. He was discovered in a sitting position by passersby.
As Ndola bids farewell to this cinematic icon, Jeff Sitali’s enduring contributions to Zambia’s film industry and his impact as a national figure will be cherished and remembered by many.