Anna Mahase’s final words: Faith, God

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Anna Mahase. – Photo courtesy Kenneth Shawn Mahase

In a pre-recorded video, the late former principal of St Augustine Girls’ High School (SAGHS), Anna Mahase, shared her own biblical reading, which focused on making contributions during one’s lifetime and God’s promise of heaven for those who live faithfully.

Mahase, 91, died early on May 24 at Medical Associates Hospital, St Joseph. In her video message, she described heaven as a house with many mansions, where angels of the Lord live eternal lives and people are reunited with loved ones.

She was the principal of SAGHS for over 30 years and was awarded the Chaconia Medal (Gold) and Medal of Merit (Gold) for public service, along with two honorary doctorates.

A tribute held on May 26 at the SAGHS school auditorium named after Mahase, was transformed into a reunion as past students, teachers and current staff filled the space. Many shared whimsical stories about Mahase, with many calling her a pioneer in education and urging for her life to be memorialised in writing.

Presbyterian minister David Nath shared reflections on Mahase’s legacy, saying everyone present had been influenced by Mahase’s dedication and unwavering commitment.

He highlighted some of Mahase’s work in academics and how she integrated music, sports, and cooking into the school curriculum. He said she considered this a proper education.

“We have a state-of-the-art home economics room and music room, where she brought violins from the German embassy for the students. She also introduced tennis courts and steelpan music to the school.”

Nath described her as a principal with a vision for improving the lives of others and believes Mahase’s achievements will live on in all her students.

Nath drew on the biblical scripture John 14 for comfort: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

He told mourners to have “eternal solace in their faith” and to be comforted knowing Mahase is with God.

Nath acknowledged the overwhelming emotions that often accompany loss.

“As members of the ministry, it always seems inadequate to supply meaningful answers. But we try to remind you of keeping a strong faith.”

Nath compared life to a tent, saying a tent is a place of comfort and shelter, but it will eventually fall apart and a person will always want to return to the comfort of their home.

“Our bodies are like tents, and as we read in scripture, we turn to our Father’s mansions. He has prepared a room for us.”

He told mourners death is not the end, and is not retaliation or evaporation, but instead, a transition.

“One day, we will trade in our broken-down bodies for new ones.”

He quoted singer Gregory Darling: “Send us all a message loud and clear, that you honour her.”

He ended by saying Mahase will be deeply missed, her legacy and spirit will remain vibrant in the lives she touched.

A former colleague of Mahase read a letter on behalf of past teachers, describing Mahase as a woman ahead of her time who was strong, visionary, energetic and enthusiastic.

She said Mahase created a nurturing environment and always looked outward, bringing the world into the community through the connections and relationships she established with regional and international personalities, members of academia and government and cultural icons.

She said Mahase ensured staff members were active participants in curriculum design and committees for syllabus reviews, and encouraged staff to meet examiners and take leave to enhance their educational qualifications.

She credited Mahase with introducing hockey to the school and said Mahase’s energy and enthusiasm were an example to her staff.

“She valued herself and her staff and she got them to work to their full potential. Her ability to find funding through her activism and marketing skills was legendary.”