I must be honest. I have not been able to properly grieve the loss of my mentor, Milele Chikasa Anana.

The communitywide celebration of life honoring Ms. Milele is postponed indefinitely due to the uncertainty of when the novel coronavirus outbreak will be contained. My thinking is that the memorial event would help me find joy amid my sorrow. 

Since her passing on May 6, phone calls, emails and casual conversations aided in discovering that I’m not alone in wanting to express how much Ms. Milele is loved, is missed and is remembered. The impact of her life is etched into many hearts and minds.

In an effort to acknowledge her revered 86 years on Earth, UMOJA Magazine created this one-of-a-kind commemorative edition. The memories are far and wide. And, Madison artist Jerry Jordan did it again. He painted the special portrait on the cover of Ms. Milele appearing strong, regal, and beautiful.

We complied what we could from her life in this issue. Ms. Milele unarguably left a lasting legacy of the few brave souls who choose to carry a civil rights’ torch of justice for her people, Black people. She was at the helm of UMOJA for 28 years, spawning careers for those who confess that she saw something in them that they didn’t see in themself.

Many recounted her contributions to education and Black entrepreneurship. More than anything, many more seemed to express the times she would pull one aside, ready or not, to lecture or encourage self-love and self-determination.

Now that I think about it, reading the memorials to our beloved publisher and Village Mother, does in fact, bring me joy. But, as with any life lost, I find myself pondering whether I am living the life God has chosen me for? One sleepless night, I found this saying on an Instagram post.  I swear Ms. Milele herself wanted me to find it.

Make moments count.  
Make priorities.  
Make the time.  
Make your gifts known.  
Make a nobody feel like a somebody.  
Make your voice heard.  
Make the small things big.  
Make someone smile.  
Make the change.  
Make love.  
Make up.  
Make peace.  
Make sure to tell your people they are loved.  
Make sure to have no regrets.  
Make sure you are ready.

Thank you to all who made this commemorative issue possible, especially CUNA Mutual Group and its Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Alexzandra Shade. So many throughout the community didn’t hesitate to pay tribute to the courageous, bold life lived by our Milele Chikasa Anana. We thank her family for sharing her with us.