MIAMI — Beginning and ending with the sound of an African talking drum, the life of a young son of South Miami-Dade County was celebrated Saturday at the Storer Auditorium on the Coral Gables campus of the University of Miami.
Chief Otunba Fosungbade (Nathaniel Styles), assisted by Edmund Abaka of the University of Miami, presided over a libation ceremony that implored the spirit of the Ancestors to receive Mupalia Sakwa Wakhisi of Cutler Bay, who died in his sleep on Jan. 19, at age 30.
Some 8,000 miles away, in the ancestral Kenyan homeland of his father Francis Wakhisi, a similar service was being held, according to the Wakhisi family.
Saturday’s service included a soulful rendition of Psalm 121 on the trumpet by Cyril Bullard, who then sang the words, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills…”
Wakhisi’s aunt, Carol Brooks, recited the Edgar Albert Guest poem, “I’ll lend you a child.”
“All of us have unique memories of Mupi,” said state Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, a close family friend who offered words of comfort for the occasion. “His lasting memory will live on with us.”
Wakhisi was known for his passion for the arts and was a self-taught musician, composer and visual artist. He received his bachelor of fine arts degree from Cornell University, where he was inducted into the prestigious Quill and Dagger Senior Honor Society.
Back home, he was involved in the summer high school journalism workshop at the University of Miami. Many of those who recounted their experiences of him were young people who passed through those sessions.
Coming from a noted civil rights activist family, he was a leader of the South Dade Connection of the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP.
Wakhisi’s survivors also include his mother, Tsitsi Wakhisi, a journalism professor at the University of Miami and a writer for South Florida Times, brothers Kofi and Wanakhavi and sister Naliaka.