Mbuki V. Mwamufiya, Ph.D, a former agricultural economist and entrepreneur, died on Monday, Dec. 23, 2019 in Media. He was 80.
He was born on Nov. 25, 1939 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to Mwamufiya Bumba and Ihwmba Felicité. He was born to the Tshokwe tribe in the village of Shamukenani, Bangu sector of the Kahemba territory within Kwango province.
Mwamufiya was educated initially by his father who was a teacher at the local Catholic village school during colonial days. From an early age, he and his brothers were identified as gifted and sent to study in Jesuit schools led by Belgian priests in the DRC. He and his brothers and others were dispatched by the Congolese government to universities around the world with the intent of educating the best and the brightest to come back and lead an independent Congo.
Mwamufiya obtained his bachelor’s degree in commerce and finance from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium in 1967. From 1967 to 1970, he was involved in various projects in DRC promoting agriculture for development of the country, while also teaching economic development and accounting at the Lovanium University in Kinshasa and the Ecole Superiere de Commerce de Kinshasa.
In 1972, he obtained a master’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of California, Davis, after first mastering the English language through a USAID run program in Washington, DC. From 1974 to 1977, he worked at the Zaire Maize Research Center in Ngandajika, DRC. Work from this research was published in a 1976, Ph.D. dissertation presented at Oregon State University, where he met his wife, Janet Wozenski, who was completing a doctorate in nutritional sciences at Oregon State.
He lived with his wife in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) for many years starting in 1980. More recently, they shuttled back and forth between the U.S. and Côte d’Ivoire as they were transitioning to retire closer to family. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2018.
From 1977 to 1980, Mwamufiya worked for the Panafrican Institute for Development (PAID) in Douala, Cameroon. For most of the 1980s and 1990s, he worked as an agricultural economist for the African Development Bank (ADB) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire and moved through the ranks to become director, for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Education and Health. From 1991 to 1994 he was stationed in Harare, Zimbabwe where he worked as director and ADB regional representative for Southern Africa. When he returned to Abidjan in 1994, he assumed the role of director in the Computer Services Department at ADB.
After retiring from ADB in 1996, Mwamufiya was chairman of the Board and CEO for PAID from 1998-2007. He also took on entrepreneurship, establishing a pharmaceutical resale company in Côte d’Ivoire to market and sell generic brands of medical products from South Africa, India and Spain; a consultancy for the ADB in various African countries and running a taxi business and a fish business.
Mwamufiya worked as a part-time/adjunct professor at the International University of Grand Bassam (IUGB), a university that his wife, Janet helped to establish. At IUGB, he taught several courses in international relations, politics and economics and was a student advisor.
Mwamufiya was an active member of his community. He was a founding member of the Association of Congolese citizens living in Cote d’Ivoire (BONDEKO) and of the Association for the Development of Kahemba and Kingwala in the DRC. Mwamufiya and his wife were founding members of the Ste. Cécile English Speaking Catholic Community in Abidjan, where he coordinated church activities including religious education for children and adults as well as charitable operations. He enjoyed conducting the choir at Ste. Cécile.
Mwamufiya was a devout Catholic who prayed the rosary every day, and enjoyed singing Gregorian chants from his education in the Jesuit order. When he could no longer walk to church from his apartment in Media, he followed the daily masses, prayers on the EWTN network.
He was preceded in death by his wife; brothers, Alexandre Usona wa Ihemba Mwamufiya, Remi Shakutunga Mwamufiya and Baudouin Kasopa Mwamufiya Makuba of the DRC.
He is survived by:his children, Ihemba Mujinga Mwamufiya, Malela Mwamufiya Werner, Session Ndambi Mwamufiya, and Edward Makuba Mwamufiya of the U.S.; grandchildren, Imara Lewis, Kalimba Lewis, Inaya Lewis, Frannie Stedman, William Stedman of the U.S; sisters: Louise Mujinga – Jina Mwamufiya of Kinshasa, DRC and Clementine Kambinza Mwamufiya of Kahemba, DRC.
Services will be held Jan. 17 at Nativity BVM, 30 E. Franklin St., Media. Viewing is at 10 a.m. Services will follow at 11 a.m. Burial is in St. Mary Cemetery in Terryville, Connecticut.
J. Nelson Rigby Funeral Home handled the arrangements.