In the painful aftermath of the alleged murder-suicide of Anthea M. Williams '93 and Chinua O. Sanyika '93, there have been many questions and few answers. The confusion and sadness surrounding Chinua's decision to take Anthea's life and his own prompts us to write.
As friends of both Anthea and Chinua, we have a difficult time reconciling our memories of two wonderful people with the events occurring in California on January 13.
A few friends have collaborated for this piece to share our memories and humanize the two people whom newspaper articles have treated as just another case of violence in our society. An official memorial service will be held Thursday, February 8 at 2 p.m. in Appleton Chapel at the Memorial Church.
I knew both Anthea and Chinua as two very caring and giving people. The events that have happened are just so inconsistent with the people we knew. That's what makes it so painful and confusing.
--Nana Twum-Danso '94
Anthea was my roommate freshman year, and Chinua lived downstairs from our Matthews Hall dorm room. They got along well from the beginning, and they began dating in November 1989. I remember them celebrating their one week, one month, two month, etc., anniversaries for a very long time. I lived with Anthea again her junior and senior years in Mather House, where Chinua also resided. In the four years I knew them, there was really no way of thinking about only one or the other.
Both Chinua and Anthea spent much of their time helping others. They were heavily involved in Aids Education Outreach (AEO); Chinua was the student director of AEO. They were also in charge of the Mather House HAND Algebra Afterschool Tutoring Program. As a volunteer, I saw both how they devoted themselves to these inner-city students as well as how these students looked to them and came to trust them in return. They also organized, and Chinua founded, the Charles Drew Society of Black Future Physicians and Life Scientists. And the list of accomplishments and activities goes on and on.
Regardless of who held an official title, I remember both Anthea and Chinua working together to get all things done. For the Mather House Senior Awards, one student each year is given the public service award. In 1993, the decision was made that two Mather seniors deserved the awards: Anthea and Chinua, of course. The two were rare individuals.
Anthea and Chinua were equally dedicated to their respective families. I will always remember Anthea remarking during her freshman year, "Oh, I wish my little brother could be here," or "I can't wait until you meet my little brother." Her brother, who was two years younger and two feet taller, was eventually accepted to the Harvard class of 1995. She was also excited to share with her friends pictures and stories of her sisters and parents back home in Cape Town, South Africa.
Distance from her home was an unfortunate reality in Anthea's life. My family lives in Los Angeles, and though I feel as if I were a world away from them at times, I know that if need be, I could be home in one afternoon. Anthea, and many other foreign students, lived with an additional anxiety: In an emergency, it could take her days to get home.
In January 1993, our roommate received the terrible news that her father had just passed away. Leaving on the next available flight, she would reach her home in Botswana some two and a half days later. Anthea, caring deeply for our roommate, remarked that while it is terrible to have a family member die, the distance only compounds the pain. To have to deal with additional pain of distance seems unreal to me. I am sad that Anthea is no longer with us, but I also feel the additional burden of sadness her family suffers due to the fact that California is a long way from South Africa.
Anthea was a close friend and a roommate and Chinua was also a dear friend. I cannot doubt the goodness I saw in Chinua. During his junior year, he often had to go out to print papers at a commercial location. I asked him once if his computer was giving him problems. His computer was fine, he said, but he had shipped it to his little sister in California so that she could get a head start with computers that he had not had. His senior year, I also remember him working an incredible number of hours each week. I later learned that he did this to help his mother financially.
Both Anthea and Chinua had more than their share of obstacles in life, but they were strong and never lost faith; I remember them both being so willing to overcome. Perhaps it is because I knew them both so well that it is so difficult to believe what has happened.
--Leticia Arias '93-'94
I also knew both Anthea and Chinua as two very caring and generous people. In particular, I will always be inspired by Anthea's examples of generosity and devotion to her family and country. She was instrumental in helping and inspiring her brother to come to the States and to Harvard. Working in the South African Consulate in Los Angeles at the time of her death, Anthea was a very gifted and dedicated woman.
The loss of her creative energy and personality is great. The confusion surrounding the death of Anthea and Chinua stems from the fact that the seemingly impossible has happened. Violence erupted where I had only seen caring and love before.
--Rebecca Miksad '95-'96
These words of ours can only begin to express the depth and variety of memories and emotions of those who knew Anthea and Chinua. For more information about the memorial service or to be included in the list of speakers, please contact Nana Twum-Danso (493-6122) or Rebecca Miksad (493-6029).