Family, friends pay respects to Wadiya Jamal

By Betsey Piette
January 4, 2023

Wadiya Jamal has spent most of her adult life fighting for her husband’s release. The beloved wife of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal died unexpectedly from a heart attack Dec. 27, 11 days after a historic decision by a Philadelphia judge in his case.

Family and friends attended services for her Dec. 30 in Philadelphia.

Wadiya Jamal during visit with Mumia.

Those who knew her best described WaWa, as she liked to be called, as devoted to her family life, for her the cause of joy but also great sorrow. She was separated by prison walls from Mumia since his arrest Dec. 9, 1981. Her youngest child, Samiya — known as Goldii — died Dec. 17, 2014, after a long fight with breast cancer. Wadiya was buried next to her daughter’s grave.

In talking about Wadiya with friend and supporter Johanna Fernandez, Mumia noted that December was always a “dark time for her because of this.”

In the funeral handout, Wadiya Jamal was described as “lively and outspoken, often at the center of any social gathering she attended. She was always well versed in the social and political news of the day, adding her well thought-out opinions to the conversation. … She was a frequent participant in forums, rallies and cultural events designed to raise awareness of injustice perpetrated against Black people. …

“[Wadiya] often hosted movie nights for her grandchildren, nephews and nieces. [She was] revered as the “Aunty” of her neighborhood, her home a safe space for all who may have needed her love and affection.”

While kept from attending the funeral in person by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Mumia was able to watch the proceedings for about an hour by zoom. He told Fernandez he wished Wadiya could have seen the outpouring of love for her that he witnessed during the ceremony.

When asked to name one of his fondest memories about Wadiya, he told Fernandez “She let me be silly.”

Wadiya Jamal will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved her. Condolences can be sent to Mumia Abu-Jamal at Smart Communications/PADOC, Mumia Abu-Jamal / AM8335, SCI Mahanoy, P.O. Box 33028, St. Petersburg, FL 33733.

Those who are on Abu-Jamal’s visitors list are encouraged to make every effort to see him.

Wadiya Jamal, my beloved

The following message from Mumia first aired on Prison Radio Dec. 30, 2022.

Wadiya Jamal and Mumia Abu-Jamal

She was a spring baby, born in the first week of April 1953 — a West Philly girl, whose beauty made her shine in a crowd. She loved fiercely like a lion. This love blessed the lives of five beautiful children, and it blessed me.

As mother and grandmother, she radiated like a sun over her planet; and when anyone was lost, her mighty love was cracked by such loss — her mother and father, her brother Jimmy, and perhaps deepest, the loss of the family’s baby, Samiya, was the deepest crack, the deepest past.

After that, every December was a trial through darkness. We were all waiting for the first light of spring, for this dark fog to break. But it was not to be. Just after the holidays, her heart, her mighty heart, gave up. She loved like no one else ever.

I love you, I will always love you. All the children and grandchildren love you and will always love you. Your smile was the only sunshine we ever needed, and we need it now. We love you, Wa-Wa. We miss you.

With love, not fear, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.