Zambia: Ode To A Great Pan-Africanist and Peacemaker Kenneth Kaunda

By Prince Kurupati

Kenneth Kaunda was the founding President of Zambia

The first President of independent Zambia Kenneth Kaunda died on 17 June 2021. Kaunda was president of Zambia from 1964 to 1991. Working under the United National Independence Party (UNIP) ticket, Kaunda recorded many great positives some of which have helped Zambia to reach the level of political, economic and social status it now enjoys. In remembrance of his great work during both his presidential and post-presidential days, his party UNIP picked the 28th of April to be the special day that the nation remembers Kaunda. The day is now affectionately dubbed Kenneth Kaunda Day.

Speaking on the official opening of Kenneth Kaunda Day, the current UNIP President the Rt. Revd. Dr. Musonda Trevor Selwyn Mwamba said Zambia’s founding father was a great pan-Africanist and peacemaker. To begin his address in line with Kaunda’s strong Christian beliefs, President Mwamba repeated the prayer composed by Kaunda which says:

“I release the nation, its people and the presidency from every negative force made against Zambia. I submit the souls now living and posterity and also its presidency to the salvation and Lordship of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Father. I further declare that Zambia shall forever enjoy tranquillity and remain a united and peaceful people under the motto; One Zambia, One Nation. The Lord bless Zambia and keep Zambia”.

Highlighting one great attribute of Kaunda’s pan-Africanist nature, President Mwamba took the audience inside the University of Zambia (UNZA) auditorium where the lecture was taking place back in time to the time when Zambia hosted the former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere the same university. As the two presidents were deliberating, they came to the same conclusion of embarking on a student exchange program.

The reasoning behind the student exchange program was to allow both nations to understand each other on a deeper level as only through this deep understanding could there be meaningful creation of synergies be it in the political, economic or social spheres. President Mwamba said by agreeing on such an idea, the two former presidents really demonstrated the desire and willingness to support and help each other on their development paths.

Supporting the idea of the student exchange program, President Mwamba said “To understand your own and other peoples, their outlook, their reactions and attitudes to things, you must understand their culture and social systems, their language, their history, and their contemporary life in general”.

Moving on, President Mwamba said another thing that set Kaunda apart from other leaders of his time and something which endeared him to multitudes of Zambians was his love for the people. In explaining Kaunda’s love for Zambians, he broke down the meaning of love according to the Greek language where there are three words that help explain what love is. There is ‘Eros’ which is passionate romantic love. There is ‘philia’ which is family, brotherly or sisterly love. There is ‘agape’ which is unconditional love like the love God has for humanity and the love humanity has for God.

To Kaunda, the kind of love that he had towards Zambians was the ‘agape’ kind of love. Love that “embodies justices and righteousness and opposes all forms of injustices that demean humanity”. The one great souvenir which Kaunda left the world which demonstrates his agape kind of love are the two books which he wrote detailing his life journey and aspirations; ‘Zambia Shall be Free’ and ‘Letter to My Children’. President Mwamba said that these two books are “an extended fatherly letter of love and wise advice and guidance to his children and the youth of Zambia to whom he grateful dedicated it”.

Former President Kaunda with current UNIP President the Rt. Revd. Dr. Musonda Trevor Selwyn Mwamba

Another great lesson that Kaunda left thanks to his strong Christian beliefs is that power is not absolute but rather borrowed. When in power, one is just a guardian of the power and not the owner as God is the Supreme Being who holds all the power. President Mwamba said that Kaunda during his presidency knew and acknowledged “that he was a guardian rather than the owner of such powers and talents as he possessed, answerable for his use or abuse of them to the One who had loaned them to him and would one day require a full reckoning. The sense of responsibility seemed to be a great burden but at least it freed him from worrying too much about popularity or fame”.

For all those who are bestowed power, Kaunda believed that they had the duty to affirm to God and the spirit as the “spiritual dimension (is) an integral part of the human personality”. Those who failed to realise and abide by this “became corrupt and immoral… and could be destructive in later life as an immoral force”.

Tolerance was also something that Kaunda held in high regard. Taking a cue from the statement uttered by Kaunda during his presidency days, President Mwamba repeated the statement saying “I happen to be one of those odd people who feels equally at home in a cathedral, synagogue, temple or mosque”.

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