Victor Kanu passed away on 3 September from a heart attack. He was 83.
Our hearts go out to his wife, Genoveva, but we know that she is strong in her belief in Swami and knows that VIctor is now with Him. All of those who knew him closely will sorely miss him. He was a great devotee of Swami, a great leader, and a great friend.
Victor was born in Sierra Leone and was involved at an early age in both education and politics —he was the Sierra Leone High Commissioner to the UK, living in high style in London for some time. But he was forced out of that position in the early 1970's, and he and Genoveva took to the field of education, in London. They learned about Swami in about 1975, and that started a close relationship with Swami that resulted in he and Genoveva starting the Miracle School in Zambia, which in 2005 received an International Gold Trophy in Paris in 2005for quality in terms of leaderhip, innovation, training, and excellence in education.
Victor has written an autobiography, which is expected to be published soon by the Prasanthi Trust bookstore. He wrote it because he expected his life on earth to end soon and felt it might be useful to others. He went blind in 2008 —and said it was a blessing because he could now focus inward, and he jokingly said that new everyone kneeled down to him. He had had nine admissions to hospitals and clinics is recent years and just felt the end might be near.
Victor's new book will be a treasure for all to read
(The picture to the right is of Victor and Genoveva; click on it to obtain a larer image.)
In the introduction to his book, Victor says,
"This autobiography tells of the long and thorny road that I have trodden before being called by God, who has taken the name of Sathya Sai Baba and whose physical form lives in Prasanthi Nilayam at Puttaparthi in South India.
"I believe that Sathya Sai Baba is God, who is in everything on earth and in the heavens. Issa Vassyam 'dam Sarvam — all this is enveloped by God. All this is soaked in God, saturated by God. Everything is the substance of God. ...
"... it was with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's coming into my life that I learned the indisputable and absolute TRUTH: all this is God. Moreover, by His divine Grace, I have been a living witness of the Omnipresence of God. Not even Oxford University, where I studied philosophy, could enlighten me on this all-important subject. Some may argue that this is an over-exaggeration, for surely philosophy as taught at Oxford debates elements of God's existence. ... By receiving spiritual enlightenment from Bhagavan Baba, the veils of ignorance and intellectual prejudice have been destroyed at the same time, never to return again.
"The evidence of His Omnipresence will be based not on what other people say or have said or what I have read about Bhagavan Baba but instead on my own first-hand personal experiences at different levels of consciousness viz. the working, sleep, and dream states consistent with biblical affirmations. Thus, God uses dreams and visions to communicate to prophets and to His people, as we find in: Daniel 1: 17; Mathew 1: 20 ; Mathew 2: 12; Numbers 12: 6; 1 Kings 3:5; Psalms 89: 19; and Acts 18:9."
Interview with Radio Sai
Below is interview of Victor Kanu given to RADIO SAI. Refer also to Heart2Heart 'Archives', Dec 01 2003, Vol 1 Issue 7, for Victor Kanu's complete Radio Sai interview on water education, "Valuing Water".)
How did you happen to choose Zambia?
Mr. Kanu: Well, actually it was Swami Himself. We had visited Zambia very briefly to conduct an EHV workshop. That was all. We knew no one there except three or four devotees. But when we came to Baba in 1987, He said to us, “Go to Zambia and spread My message of love through education. Build a school and help the people.” And, do you know why He chose Zambia for us? It was for a very good reason because Zambia happens to be, in my judgement, a very stable country. The people are very mature spiritually.
It must have been very difficult for you to start a school in a country you were not familiar with. And you must have been short of resources – physical, financial, and manpower resources. Tell us something about how you braved it all.
Mr. Kanu: I very well still remember what happened in the interview room when Baba told us to go and set up this school. My wife was brave, I was not. She turned towards Baba and said, “Baba, what about funding?” Swami said, “Sell your house. If funds are not enough, borrow from banks.” Well, we were delighted when He told us to sell our house. Being brought up as Christians, we remembered the story in the Bible when a rich man went to Jesus and said, “Oh Lord, what can I do to come near God?” Jesus said, “Sell all that you have and give to the poor and follow me.” The man ran away when he heard these words. We were overjoyed.
This was the Father speaking to you.
Mr. Kanu: Yes, this was the Father. We were so thrilled that Sathya Sai Baba whom we believe to be God Incarnate and the Father who sent Jesus had directed us to go to Zambia. It was not that He could not have given us funds, but that was a test. We knew that straightaway and we did exactly as He wanted us to do. We also remembered the stories of Hanuman, and other great disciples how they went to distant lands because the Lord was with them. So, that was enough for us. We knew Baba would be with us throughout. When Baba said, “Go to Zambia,” He did not say there would be no difficulties. Difficulties are part of life.
It is my experience that when you do God’s work, you face more difficulties.
Mr. Kanu: Yes, more difficulties, more tests. We enjoyed every bit of them, we knew that Lord Baba was testing us.
Your school has been invariably described as a miracle school. Now tell us something about why it is called a miracle school.
Mr. Kanu: The school is located in a socially and economically disadvantaged area. Many boys had failed the national primary Grade 7 examination (a precondition for entrance into secondary schools). They failed because they were truants, poor attenders and difficult to teach. They were rejects. These were the same boys the Sathya Sai Secondary School in Ndola admitted. After two years and upon taking the National Grade 9 examination, not only were they among those who obtained the highest marks in the country, they all passed (100%). This success rate has been repeated at Grade 12 later for the past 10 years. They are at various institutions of higher learning in the country. This is the “Miracle” – the “Sai Miracle”.
That was in which year? I suppose, it was all part of the Divine plan.
Mr. Kanu: That was in 1994. This was marvellous; the nation was stunned. How come a school which was located in a village among poor children do so well! This had never happened in the educational history of Zambia. It was all part of the Divine plan. It could not have happened without Swami’s intervention.
I presume there is no fee. Do you get any subsidy from the government?
Mr. Kanu: No fee at all. We only ask a little for commitment purposes, but no tuition fee. There is no subsidy from the government. Swami is the provider of everything. So, the results were astonishing. The character of the children improved and they became good boys in a short period of time.
Did these students make any impact at home on their families?
Mr. Kanu: Yes. There was a lot of impact on their families. I can give you two instances. A boy persistently told his father to take him to Sathya Sai School very early in the morning, because he did not want to be late. After dropping him at school, the father would report for work and was the first to do so. Within six months, the father got promotion because of his punctuality and regularity at work. Also, a Managing Director who was the last to go to work began dropping his child very early in the morning at Sathya Sai School (at the insistence of the child), and he also became the first person to open his office; his late coming was reduced and so was that of his employees. There are many testimonies of this nature from parents as well as from children. The boys who never used to study, began to tell others at home to study and not to make noise.
I think Ndola is not a big town. How much is the population?
Mr. Kanu: It is relatively big enough. Population is about 250,000 people. We had a choice between building the school in the heart of the city or in the poorer area. So, I sent Genoveva (Mrs. Kanu) to Baba. I said, “Please ask Him where we should put the school.” He said, “Go to the poor area, train them.”
And apart from classroom instructions, you also have social services and things like that?
Mr. Kanu: Yes. We are very much involved in community work – helping the old and orphans.
Is it not amazing to learn what Baba can accomplish through His instruments. Let us pray that we also can be such trusty and capable workers to the Glory of God and a better world.