Dr Duncan Mugala

On Tuesday, October 16, 2018, we woke up to the heart-wrenching news of the crossing over from this earthly life to the realms of the blessed of Dr Duncan Dan Chiduliko Mugala. He was 64 years old at the time of his death. He was affectionately known as “DD” among his peers, or “Uncle Duncan” to his medical students, “Ba Elder” among the believers, or simply “Doc” by many.
Great and remarkable men and women have graced this world in every
period of the Christian church, fulfilling their calling and becoming eminently useful. Our sovereign God in his love and mercy endows them with notable gifts and gives them to their generation for a season. Such was Dr Mugala, a rare monument of God’s grace. He was a man who wore many hats, and they all fitted him perfectly. An all-rounder, he was gifted with intellectual abilities that he dutifully applied in the various spheres of his life. Throughout his life, he displayed magnificent abilities and straddled his world as an unchallenged colossus. He was the kind of man that made you turn to God in profuse gratitude that such a one walked this world during your time, and that you got to know him and stood in the shadow of his greatness.

His birth and early childhood
Dr Mugala was born in Chinsali on June 7, 1954. Chinsali is the place that has given us some of Zambia’s greatest names on the political scene, such as
Kenneth Kaunda, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, Kapasa Makasa, Mama Kankasa and Nevers Mumba among others. Although the political path was never Dr Mugala’s dream, he rose to greatness in his own right and rubbed shoulders with the great, some of whom came under the cure and therapy of his surgical knife.
Dr Mugala started his primary school in Chingola, before moving to
Kabwe after the death of his father. His was a child that knew much pain and grief, but all these did not stand in the way of his dream of becoming a medical doctor. He did so well in the Grade 7 exams and qualified to go to Form 1 at David Kaunda Technical Secondary School (DK), where he was from 1971 to 1975. There he met several friends, some of whom are still among us: Misheck Daka, Sylvester Hibajene, Alfred Nyirenda, Gershom Musonda, Mazuwa Banda, to name a few.

His second birth
Dr Mugala was brought up in the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) and was actively involved in the activities of the Boys Brigade. He went to DK believing that he was a Christian. One evening, by God’s providence and not by his own choosing, he attended a Scripture Union meeting. He enjoyed the hymn singing and the preaching. He felt happy to continue attending these meetings and soon developed a new set of friends. One of these friends invited him to Lusaka Baptist Church (LBC), and soon he became a regular visitor of this church. The sermons there began to stir young Duncan’s heart until one Sunday in 1972 when the Lord saved him after the preaching of Pastor Graham Ingram. There was a complete and dramatic change in his life. Soon he became a preacher to his peers and his desire was to serve the Lord. He matured so quickly as a Christian that when he was only in Form 2 he was elected leader of the Scripture Union at his school, leading people older than himself and his seniors.
It was during his early days at LBC that he met his childhood sweetheart Mary Walubita. This was in 1973 and he married her twelve years later. They courted for five years! Later in his senior grade, Dr Mugala was appointed school head boy. His leadership was tested one day when the pupils vowed to protest and boycott meals over poor diet at the school. The situation was volatile and tense,
and young Duncan stepped forward to address the students. Without a raised voice, the students calmed down and called off their plans to protest. Such was this brother!

His professional career
After graduating from high school with brilliant results, Dr Mugala was accepted to the University of Zambia (UNZA) in 1977, and he went there with one goal and passion in his heart—to become a physician. He graduated from the school of medicine as a medical doctor in 1985. Two years later, he was back in class to study surgery at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH). He also did specialized training in Gastrointestinal (GIT) surgery at Sheffield University in England in 1993. Much of his professional life was spent with the then Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) and later with Konkola Copper Mines (KCM). He retired prematurely from KCM as a Senior Consultant in General Surgery in 2011. This early retirement came about because he was invited by the then Minister of Health to join the faculty of the newly established Copperbelt University (CBU) School of Medicine in Ndola.
This was a test of his faith and patriotism for it meant prematurely leaving a lucrative job with KCM in order to accept a government job for less than half of his previous pay! Until his death, Dr Mugala was a senior lecturer in surgery at the CBU School of Medicine and also coordinated their postgraduate studies.
Dr Mugala was one of the founding members of the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA), under the auspices of which he fulfilled his vision of contributing to the training of surgeons in the region. He was a true patriotic Zambian who resisted the temptation to leave the country to look for greener pastures elsewhere. In an obituary written after his demise, Prof Bowa paid his high tributes to Dr Mugala. He wrote, “Dr Mugala distinguished himself in teaching, research and clinical service. His surgical skills in the operating room were legendary. He was as proficient in the chest as he was in the abdomen. He had a natural knack for both open and endoscopic surgery. He was also exceptionally gifted in the use of ultrasound in surgical diagnostics.” Through his mentorship the Ndola Teaching Hospital has established itself in training some of the best young surgeons in the Master of Medicine (Surgery) programme.

His Christian life
The light of evangelical truth that shone upon Dr Mugala’s heart in his teens became brighter and brighter with each passing year, manifesting traits of a pious heart and mind. He was a diligent student of the Bible, and God’s truth set his heart on fire with love and devotion for the Lord. Wherever his medical profession took him to work, his leadership qualities and knowledge of the Scriptures soon became evident to those around him. He served as a deacon at Kamenza Chapel in Chililabombwe and as an elder at Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka as well as at Central Baptist Church in Chingola. He loved teaching and preaching the gospel of his Saviour. He preached some of the finest sermons
I have ever heard from the Old Testament. I was privileged to serve with him in the eldership at Central Baptist Church in Chingola for three years from 1998 to 2001, and I learnt much from his wisdom and maturity.
Dr Mugala was a godly husband and father. He was dedicated to the church and to his medical profession, and served the Lord with simplicity and humility. He liberally gave his time, resources, gifts, talents and the treasures of his profession to the work of the Lord. He exhibited multiple talents as an author of short stories, plays and gospel songs. He was also a gifted guitarist and vocalist. Towards the end of his life, he wrote two books on contemporary life issues and two on clinical sciences for post and undergraduate medical students that are yet to be published. Dr Mugala considered his medical practice as a service to God and the nation. He was known to pray inside the theatre before operating on his patients.
He was a man of deep convictions, and sometimes remained inflexibly committed to what he believed was right. After some differences at Central Baptist Church in Chingola, he resigned from the eldership and membership to join Bethel Chapel in the same town. He was a man of tremendous self-control and remarkable fortitude when confronted with personal hardships and challenges. Even when in pain, he would suffer quietly without complaining. It
is not a wonder then that when he collapsed, he was actually at work about to do his medical rounds.
Hundreds of people that gathered at his funeral in Chingola on October 18 to send off this gallant soldier of Christ bore testimony to what a blessing he was to many people. His wife Mary, children (Dr Anchindika Tabo Mulenga, Inaka Mutende and Lukundo Musa), wider family, church, CBU management, and friends from his secondary school days eulogised his life of faith and labour of love. Someone has said, “Those who are born twice will die once. Those who are born only once will die twice.” Dr Mugala was born twice and, despite our personal sadness, we have joy in knowing that he is now with Jesus and at peace.
PS: I thank Mrs Mary Mugala, Dr Henry Mugala and Dr Anchindika Mugala Mulenga for helping me with information that enabled me to write this.

His professional career
After graduating from high school with brilliant results, Dr Mugala was accepted to the University of Zambia (UNZA) in 1977, and he went there with one goal and passion in his heart—to become a physician. He graduated from the school of medicine as a medical doctor in 1985. Two years later, he was back in class to study surgery at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH). He also did specialized training in Gastrointestinal (GIT) surgery at Sheffield University in England in 1993. Much of his professional life was spent with the then Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) and later with Konkola Copper Mines (KCM). He retired prematurely from KCM as a Senior Consultant in General Surgery in 2011. This early retirement came about because he was invited by the then Minister of Health to join the faculty of the newly established Copperbelt University (CBU) School of Medicine in Ndola.
This was a test of his faith and patriotism for it meant prematurely leaving a lucrative job with KCM in order to accept a government job for less than half of his previous pay! Until his death, Dr Mugala was a senior lecturer in surgery at the CBU School of Medicine and also coordinated their postgraduate studies.
Dr Mugala was one of the founding members of the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA), under the auspices of which he fulfilled his vision of contributing to the training of surgeons in the region. He was a true patriotic Zambian who resisted the temptation to leave the country to look for greener pastures elsewhere. In an obituary written after his demise, Prof Bowa paid his high tributes to Dr Mugala. He wrote, “Dr Mugala distinguished himself in teaching, research and clinical service. His surgical skills in the operating room were legendary. He was as proficient in the chest as he was in the abdomen. He had a natural knack for both open and endoscopic surgery. He was also exceptionally gifted in the use of ultrasound in surgical diagnostics.” Through his mentorship the Ndola Teaching Hospital has established itself in training some of the best tribute.

Isaac Makashini
Pastor, Emmasdale Baptist Church