African, world leaders hail Dr Kenneth Kaunda for championing unity

06Jul 2021
By Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
African, world leaders hail Dr Kenneth Kaunda for championing unity

VARIOUS leaders have described the late Dr Kenneth Kaunda as a true pan-Africanist, icon of Africa’s liberation, humanist and philanthropist who championed the cause of the freedom of Southern Africa and the entire African continent.

They were speaking during a memorial service held for Dr Kaunda, one of the founding fathers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Zambia’s first President on July 2nd.

Dr Kaunda died on 17th June, 2021 at the age of 97 and will be buried on 7th July 2021.

SADC Chairperson and President Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, described Dr Kaunda as a great statesman who always stood up against colonial oppression and used diplomacy to garner support for Southern African liberation movements.

Nyusi bemoaned the loss of one of SADC’s Founding Fathers who offered his country as a safe haven for liberation movements from Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe who were fighting against colonialism and apartheid in their home countries.

Despite economic sanctions by the then apartheid South Africa and the racist regime in the then Rhodesia, Zambia housed liberation movements such as the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa, FRELIMO, South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) of Namibia, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), both of Angola, and Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), both of Zimbabwe.

As a result of Dr Kaunda’s support to the liberation movements, Nyusi said, Zambia paid a huge price as it became a subject of sabotage by the Rhodesian regime and apartheid South Africa, resulting in loss of lives and damage to its economy.

He said Zambia’s independence under Dr Kaunda in 1964 was an inspiration to other countries in Southern Africa. The name Lusaka is engraved in the collective memory of Mozambique as this was where the agreement for Mozambique’s independence was brokered by Dr Kaunda between the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) and the Portuguese colonisers in 1974, leading to independence in 1975.

President Nyusi said Dr Kaunda was an ambassador of the oppressed as he used his influence to lobby for the Region’s freedom from white minority rule, and that without Dr Kaunda’s vision, Mozambique would not be where it is now.

He said Dr Kaunda had shown that working for the people does not end when one’s presidential term ends as he had gone on to champion the fight against HIV and AIDS and was involved in various philanthropic work after he left the Zambian presidency in 1994.

“SADC has lost its founder and a leader who stood against racial discrimination and inequality,” he said, adding that men of Dr Kaunda’s stature never die but their spirit lives on.

Former President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, speaking on behalf of President Samia Suluhu Hassan, said Dr Kaunda forged friendship ties with Julius Nyerere to work for the liberation and betterment of Africa.

He said President Suluhu Hassan had assured Tanzanians that she will work towards enhancing the existing bilateral ties between Tanzania and Zambia as a way of honouring Dr Kaunda’s legacy.

Chairperson of the African Union (AU) and President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi Tshilombo, described Dr Kaunda as a Pan- Africanist who believed and worked for the betterment of the African continent and its people.

Speaking through his representative, Presidential Affairs Minister Manuanina Kihimba Nana, President Tshisekedi praised Dr Kaunda for being a founding father of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which transformed into the AU, to promote unity on the continent.

Dr Kaunda was an illustrious pan-Africanist and baobab of African politics who was concerned with the well-being of Africa and its people.

President Tshisekedi said Dr Kaunda’s commitment to the independence of African states saw him actively participating in the creation of the OAU and that he played a pivotal role in fostering African solidarity, leading to the independence of many African states and the end of apartheid.

Chairperson of the East African Community and President of Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta, said Dr Kaunda sacrificed a lot to ensure that justice and social rights prevailed on the African continent.

He said Dr Kaunda was not satisfied with the independence of Zambia alone and committed himself to lead the struggle to ensure the people of Africa got justice and were free to determine their future, at a great cost to his country.

Kenyatta said he was inspired by Dr Kaunda, who left Zambia’s presidency graciously and with humility, showing that there was life after leaving presidential office. After leaving presidential office, Dr Kaunda went on to champion other activities, including the fight against HIV and AIDS and ensuring peace and prosperity on the continent.

The Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, said the death of Dr Kaunda signaled the end of an era of great African philosophers and liberation fighters in the mold of founding Ghana President Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Tanzania’s founding President Julius Nyerere, Jomo Kenyatta, Sekou Toure of Guinea and Leopold Senghor of Senegal.

The President of Zambia, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, described Dr Kaunda as an African legend, political giant, freedom fighter, statesman, pan-Africanist, patriot, true icon and international statesman who sacrificed for the freedom of Zambia from colonial rule. He said Dr Kaunda believed that Africans should chart their own destiny and not have their natural resources plundered while they wallowed in poverty and degradation.

President of Malawi, H.E Lazarus Chakwera, said the death of Dr Kaunda should not be in vain but should raise up a new generation of African leaders who will embrace his ideals of pan-Africanism and stamp out corruption in Africa.

Chakwera said a new generation of African leaders in the like of Dr Kaunda were needed to set Africa on the path of economic growth, prosperity and peace. He said the burial of Dr Kaunda will not be the burial of lifeless body, but the planting of a vibrant and finest African seed from which the continent will reap.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana paid tribute to Dr Kaunda for single-handedly ushering Botswana into the OAU. He said Botswana’s independence was not an easy push due to the position of the white minority regime in South Africa and that it all fell on Dr Kaunda’s shoulders to become the microphone and megaphone for Botswana.

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa said Dr Kaunda was a loyal friend to the people of South Africa during the long and bitter struggle against the oppressive apartheid government.

Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa said: “Dr Kaunda was a torch-bearer of freedom for the whole African continent and that his deeds should forever be emulated. Africa had lost a Pan-Africanist, liberator, elder statesman, visionary leader and selfless cadre who dedicated his entire life to the independence and development of the entire continent,” he said.

Namibian President, Dr Hage Geingob described Dr Kaunda as colossal of African independence, an extraordinary personality, an icon of Africa’s liberation and statesman par excellency who had left behind an indelible mark. Dr Kaunda stood for humanity and his influence stretched beyond the Southern African Region.

The Prime Minister of Lesotho, Moeketsi Majoro said Dr Kaunda was a remarkable leader who selflessly worked to ensure Southern Africa was liberated.

The Vice President of Angola, Bernito de Sousa Baltazar Diogo, said Dr Kaunda’s achievements go beyond Zambia’s borders and that he had become so big that there was a part of him in all the Southern Africa due to his efforts in liberating the Region.

African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson, Moussa Faki said the continental body would not be in existence without the input and efforts of founding leaders like Dr Kaunda.

Faki said it was not easy to eulogise Dr Kaunda who is the last of the founding fathers of the then OAU.

British Minister for African Affairs, James Duddridge, said his country mourns with Zambia the loss of a respected statesman and freedom fighter. He said Dr Kaunda worked to secure Zambia’s future and the liberation of Africa.

Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, described Dr Kaunda as an African titan, global leader, humanist and principled Christian.

Scotland said the world needs to heed and apply Dr Kaunda’s ideas of peace, and that his influence and input shaped the Commonwealth into the modern organisation it has become.

The Foreign Minister of Serbia, Nikola Selakovic, said Dr Kaunda was a role model for freedom loving nations.

Selakovic said his country enjoyed good cooperation with Dr Kaunda’s government in promoting a peaceful world, adding that he was a giant whose works will never die but live on.

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