Analysis

Kenneth Kaunda: The last man standing | OBITUARY

By Dr MASIMBA MAVAZA

Kenneth David Kaunda was born on the 28 April 1924. He was affectionately known as KK was a Zambian politician who served as the first President of Zambia from 1964 to 1991. He was at the forefront of the struggle for independence from British rule.

Dissatisfied with Harry Nkumbula’s leadership of the Northern Rhodesian African National Congress, he broke away and founded the Zambian African National Congress, later becoming the head of the United National Independence Party (UNIP).

He was the first President of the independent Zambia. In 1973 following tribal and inter-party violence, all political parties except UNIP were banned through an amendment of the constitution after the signing of the Choma Declaration.

Unlike all the leaders of the world Kaunda’ estate is estimated to be only worthy five million US dollars. This speaks volumes of him to the world outside. Kaunda stood out as one of the most humane and idealistic African leaders in the post-independence age. A man of great presence and charm, he played a notable role as a leader of the “frontline states” in the long confrontation between independent black Africa and the white-dominated south of the continent.

Kaunda was the last man standing as many of the frontline leaders had bowed out of this world.

Kenneth Kaunda was at the forefront of the struggle for independence from British rule.. He was married to the late Betty Kaunda who died in 2012. They were blessed with five Children Tilyenji Kaunda Wezi Kaunda Musata Kaunda Banda Cheswa Siliwizya.

This day we have all been touched by the loss of KK who has left behind for us, his legacy of ‘service to others’. His famous words remain ever more important to us, “ONE ZAMBIA ONE NATION.”

Today, Kenneth Kamunda’s earthly remains lies in the cold room lifeless. Death never fails to make us review what life is all about; how precious it is and sometimes how undervalued too, by some. How fragile is this life we live when we are here today and gone tomorrow.
Death is the great equaliser for there is no regard for age, colour, class, creed, social status or material wealth. Death surely will visit every one of us sometime. We know no knowledge when or how, for it is a circumstance that very few of us have or can take control of.

There is no doubt in my mind that, in general African standards, KK has done quite extensively for the material, intellectual, economic and political development of Africa. He kick-started the removal of arrogance, political intolerance and at worst cultism which was implanted by the oppressor. As a hero, KK could not banish dangers, but could banish fears.

We mustn’t demean life by standing in awe of death.

Death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity. Eternity…such a small word to describe such a haunting vastness. And so, we ask ourselves: Will our actions echo across the centuries?

Will strangers hear our names long after we’re gone and know who we were?

Kenneth Kaunda silently did that.

Kaunda is described as an Idealistic president of Zambia at the heart of the fight for African independence. He sacrificed the prosperity of Zambia for others. He endured the sabotage by South Africa for the freedom of black South Africans. Kaunda gave his country to be a launching pad for Zimbabwe and with his white cloths celebrated the independence of each and every African state.

The president of Zambia from 1964 to 1991, Kenneth Kaunda, who has died aged 97, stood out as one of the most humane and idealistic African leaders in the post-independence age. A man of great presence and charm, he played a notable role as a leader of the “frontline states” in the long confrontation between independent black Africa and the white-dominated south of the continent, which came to an end only in 1994 with the election of Nelson Mandela as president of South Africa.

Those who knew him best will tell stories of his bravery, his heroism, and his sacrifice.
We will talk of how he stood by us through thick and thin, and how he saved others’ lives more than a few times.

We will carry the memory of Kenneth Kaunda in our hearts forever. We will celebrate his life and we will cherish the memories of his fierce loyalty, unwavering convictions, and deep, faithful love for the country and for the people. This hero went from this life, but he is not forgotten; he will live on within us.

His memory will live on through us, and it is our privilege and responsibility to ensure he is remembered forever for how honourably he lived, how bravely he fought and how fiercely he loved.

It is very difficult to say words in memory to this hero of the beloved Zimbabwe and all Africa because of what he was and represented.

A feeling of sorrow, an infinite grief catches our throats — sorrow for the loss of the nation yet great joy that we gained so much from such sacrifice.

He went away, the soldier of the highest ideal of human redemption, exiled from his own country, persecuted by the tyrants and again true to his word died in his own country. We grieve for the whole of Zambia and Africa who remained, but in the very depth of our hearts, we are hallowed by our feeling of eternal gratitude to what he fought for, lived for and died for.

From all aspects of life, Kenneth Kaunda came to us like a child of immortal Zambia and in the hardest days of the war, when our being was being trampled and threatened, it was Kaunda, the gallant son of the soil, who helped save the country with his fighting enthusiasm, heroism and spirit of sacrifice.

Today we remember the hero who helped save a threatened country’s freedom and independence – the freedom and independence of our people and yet, profoundly loving liberty and justice, he came and offered himself to us unconditionally.
Kenneth Kaunda gave us everything; his youth and his maturity; his science and his experience; his blood and his life, his hope and aspirations and he asked us for nothing in return.

He made history in life and made history in death. Parents, when the years pass by and the wounds of war are healed; when the memory of the sad and bloody days dissipates in the presence of liberty, of peace and of well being; when the rancours have died out and pride in a free country is felt equally by all Zimbabweans, speak to your children about Kaunda the man from Zambia who saw no boundaries in his help and his quest for the freedom of others.

Tell them of this man of valour. We shall never forget Kenneth Kaunda the great Zambian.

Kaunda hast made Africa’s future, our political circumstances, and how we could contribute to the common good. His conversations and enlightenment will be missed dearly, as we take time to get accustomed to the fact that he is no more present in the body.

Kaunda was an emotional man who often wept in public, Kaunda liked singing hymns and folk songs, and was a Christian inclined to his God.

Kenneth Kaunda was a voice of reason together with African-Frontline-leaders like Sam Nujoma,Samora Machel, Julius-Nyerere cde Robert Mugabe. He was in the league of Nkiwane Nkurumah and Jomo Kenyatta.

This writer had the rare opportunity to sit on the same table with KK. His presence was electric and still filled with dignity. He was born at Lubwa near Chinsali in the northern province of Northern Rhodesia, as Zambia was then called; his parents were immigrants from Nyasaland (as Malawi was then). His father, David, was a priest who became a teacher and his mother, Helen, was one of the first black teachers in the colony. They had been married for 20 years, and had seven children already, and he was christened Buchizya, “the unexpected one”.

He was educated at Lubwa Church of Scotland mission school and then at Munali school, Lusaka – the premier secondary school for Africans in Northern Rhodesia. In 1943 he began teaching at Lubwa mission; he then spent time in Tanganyika, as Tanzania was then, before returning to become head of his old school in 1947. Kaunda now became involved in politics, first as secretary of the local young men’s farming association, which was a stepping stone to the Northern Rhodesian African National Congress (a separate organisation from the South African ANC, but with similar objectives of independence).

In 1948 he founded and became secretary general of the Lubwa ANC branch; in 1950 he was appointed organising secretary of the ANC nationally. He showed energy and administrative capacity in this role, and soon rose to become secretary general of the ANC and deputy to its leader, Harry Nkumbula.

He found himself having increasing brushes with the colonial authorities. He was firmly opposed to the Central African Federation (CAF), which came into being in 1953 as an attempt by Britain to unite the three territories of Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland in what would have become a white-dominated dominion.

In 1955 he was jailed for possessing banned literature and while in prison vowed to give up smoking and drinking, a vow he was to keep all his life. Widening his political horizons, he visited Britain for the first time in 1957 and then went on a trip to India, where he was seriously ill with tuberculosis.

The Zambian observer reported that Kaunda loved music. Music had been a life-long passion for Kenneth Kaunda from the time he was a teenager in Chinsali when he discovered the guitar.On his lonely assignments to drum up support for independence, the lanky young man spotting a Zonk-hair cut would ride long distances with a guitar slung across his shoulder.

He would hold meetings and sing to his audience his own compositions.When he ascended to power, it was a common feature to see him strum his guitar singing a patriotic song or a love song dedicated to his late wife Betty.

A song Zambians will fondly remember Dr.Kaunda by is “Tiyende Pamodzi nimu ntima umo” which is a song of unity.

Kaunda will live in our hearts forever and ever.
May his dear soul rest in peace.

Vazet2000@yahoo. Co.Uk

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