Awarded for those with special merits Henk van Kessel was appointed Kinght of the Order of Orange for his service to the Zambian people and Church over the past 62 years.
By Jean-Luc Gouiller, Kalongwezi, Chipata, on 10th March 2015
The ceremonial decoration took place on 21st February 2015. Henk remembers well the name of the Lady Ambassador: “Gera Sneller”. She cares for three countries: Zimbabwe where she lives as an Ambassador, Malawi and Zambia. She came by road to Chipata as a tourist.
She arrived at our place in mid-morning. I welcomed her, then presented Henk the hero of the day, the Auxiliary Bishop Mgr. Benjamin Phiri, Fr. Christopher Sakala Parish Priest of the Cathedral and Fr. Jacob Zulu in charge of communications in the Diocese. Then the whole Kalongwezi community was presented, plus of course Toon van Kessel from Lusaka – Henk’s cousin, and our cook Evarista Zulu.
The Ambassador told us a little about her, and then it was the time of the ceremony, simple but pleasant. Toon recalled the life of Henk and especially his sixty two years in Africa, all spent in what is presently the Diocese of Chipata, an extraordinary length of time indeed. Toon ended by saying: May be Henk has not done very great things, but he has done plenty of small things in a great way.
The Ambassador expressed her pleasure to be the one called to decorate somebody with such a life in Africa. Then everything was ready: Henk was decorated as “Knight of the Order of Orange”. Some pictures were taken, which a little later were already presented as a souvenir to him and to the Ambassador. The whole time Henk was at his best. Indeed, even if he was not ready to travel far away for the decoration, he very much appreciated it. And we all enjoyed to be witnesses to his decoration
Blessed be the Lord for such a life and such a day.
To end it all, after a gift or two to be added to the feast, lunch was the occasion to go on talking, listening to some experiences from the Ambassador and talking ourselves about our past and present life in Zambia.
A question remains: what is the historical background of being a “Knight of the Order of Orange”?
The first thing to remember is probably that, after a long history, it is said that the people of the Netherlands (the Low Lands), managed to organise themselves as a Republic in 1579, with Guillaume d’Orange. After many changes along the following centuries, the Netherlands finally became a State of its own in 1830, under the Kings of the Family of Orange. … until nowadays. No wonder that the name of being a “Knight of the Order of Orange” is very appropriate.