Coronavirus claims life of UK Citizens former admin chief and devout church warden Jo Mukanjira
- Credit: UK Citizens
Josephine Mukanjira was a devout Christian sending clothes to her family living abroad and furnishings for their home — right up to the week she caught Covid-19 and died.
The former administrator at UK Citizens’ Whitechapel HQ and a dedicated church warden in Plaistow was still busy packing boxes to send when she fell ill at her home in Rainham.
But the funeral on Monday, June 15, had to be delayed eight weeks and a service held outside St Martin’s Anglican Church because of the pandemic emergency.
The 46-year-old campaigner was warden and treasurer at the church in Boundary Road using her admin skills to raise funds for the congregation.
Josephine came to London from Uganda in 2005 to study IT and began work at Citizens UK in Whitechapel two years later.
She was responsible for a £5million yearly budget and £300,000 monthly salary bill for 100 full and part time staff up and down the country.
Citizens’ founder Neil Jameson recalled her as “a friend and ally” to all who joined the organisation.
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“She always sat close to the entrance so hers was usually the first face people saw when they came in,” he recalled. “Jo was also the last to bid farewell and ‘safe journey’ when they left.
“She stayed late and worked at weekends if there was a rally or event to organise during her 13 years with us.”
Those events included the 2009 Strangers into Citizens rally with 20,000 people packing Trafalgar Square which won a one-off amnesty for long-term illegal immigrants who had put roots down in Britain.
She was also behind the 2016 London Citizens mayor election open assembly at the Olympic Park’s Copper Box venue when 6,000 members of the public held candidates to account.
Jo later struck a good working relationship with the new mayor, Sadiq Khan, that eventually led to City Hall handing over disused railway land in Shadwell for land trust housing at Cable Street, campaigned for by UK Citizens members, which was given £2m only last week to start the work.
Josephine used her own income to pay for building a new house for her family in Uganda and for fittings to be sent out from London.
The boxes remained packed and overflowing in her living room in Rainham, ready to send after her funeral.