Summary: It is impossible to talk about Kenneth Kaunda without timelines. He defies a general or linear description. He was, at different times, many things good or many things bad about people. In the end, he was, like the rest of us, simply human. Kaunda’s place in Zambia’s political history is guaranteed by the fact that he was a central participant in the key developments and turning points that define the origins of Zambia. He was a freedom fighter who led Zambia to independence in October 1964. He was a nationalist who believed in nation-building. He was a pan-Africanist who supported liberation struggles across Southern Africa. His pragmatism in the context of his time made him employ the unpopular one-party state both to wade off his personal political competition, and to advance his vision of Zambia as a nation state in a hostile Southern Africa. We Zambians will forever celebrate him as an elder statesman who peacefully accepted defeat having lost the 1991 general elections. He was all of these things, embodying both strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures. Yet above all, Kaunda is mostly remembered, against the backdrop of his often corrupt and repressive successors, as a man who was ultimately willing to put the national interest ahead of his own.
The rise to power
Kaunda, popularly known as KK, was born on 28 April 1924 in Chinsali to parents who were teachers; and, significantly, to a father who came from what is now Malawi. This gave Kaunda a distinctive position in Zambian political life. On the one hand he hailed from an area dominated by the Bemba and spoke the Bemba language, and so could effectively mobilise one of the country’s largest ethnic groups. On the other hand, his mixed heritage encouraged him to stay above ethnic politicking and to seek to balance the representation of different groups in his cabinet.
Having initially followed in his parents’ footsteps as a teacher, Kaunda resigned in 1951 to become the organising secretary of the Northern Rhodesian ANC in the Northern Province. In time, he became disillusioned with the moderate stance of ANC leader Harry Nkumbula and quit in 1958 to set up the rival Zambian African National Congress (ZANC). This new political vehicle, which argued for rapid decolonisation, was quickly shut down by the colonial government, and Kaunda was imprisoned for nine months.
Upon his release, and with a reputation bolstered by the time that he had spent in jail, Kaunda took up the leadership of the United National Independence Party, which had been formed while he was in detention. By pushing a more radical message and developing a strong structure in urban areas along the line of rail, UNIP quickly eclipsed the ANC and so it was Kaunda who emerged as the country’s first Prime Minister and then President following independence in 1964.
In power, Kaunda sought to strike a delicate balance by not offending the country’s powerful trade unions — which frequently demanded improvements in pay and conditions — international donors, who wanted to see a reduction in government spending, its religious leaders who exerted a strong influence over Zambian hearts and minds, and the country’s different ethnic groups, each of which feared being outmanoeuvred by the others. The multiple compromises this resulted in are well demonstrated by his professed ideology, Zambian humanism, which was left-wing without being explicitly socialist, focused on the struggle for human progress without being “godless”, and was community minded while rejecting the principle of tribalism.
This was not simply a political manoeuvre — Kaunda really did believe in these things and was in many ways more of a moderate than his counterparts elsewhere on the continent.
Yet, in consistently trying to balance these competing pressures, Kaunda risked pleasing no one. He failed to make the country less dependent on copper, but this didn’t stop damaging trade union strikes. Meanwhile, leaders from the Bemba rejected his efforts at ethnic balancing, complaining that they had not been sufficiently rewarded for the prominent role that they played in securing independence.
As economic conditions worsened, the greatest threat to UNIP was not defeat by the ANC, but rather that a group of Kaunda’s supposed allies would break away to challenge his rule. When his long-time friend and former vice-president, Simon Kapwepwe, left to form the United Progressive Party (UPP), Kaunda realised that a UPP/ANC alliance might defeat UNIP, and so began proceedings to introduce a one-party state in 1972.
Kaunda officially justified the one-party state on the basis that it was necessary because the country was at war. This was self-serving, because the real motivation was domestic not international, but it contained an element of truth. Kaunda had offered support to liberation movements in Southern Africa, offering fierce criticism to foreign leaders who supported white minority rule such as Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, and so feared attacks from apartheid South Africa.
Zambia also suffered in other ways. When sanctions were placed on Ian Smith’s Rhodesia, it cut off landlocked Zambia from important trading routes, making a challenging economic situation even more difficult. Initially Kaunda and UNIP’s legitimacy as nationalist heroes allowed them to ride this out but, as the economy continued to suffer, popular support ebbed away, and the government was increasingly forced to use repression instead of co-optation and persuasion. Some dissidents were beaten and locked up, others fled the country.
By the late 1980s, Kaunda had run out of ideas, UNIP’s official structures were little more than a fiction, and the one-party state was on borrowed time.
A leader reborn
This is the point at which most African incumbent leaders agreed to reintroduce multiparty politics only to use violence, censorship, and intimidation to manipulate the polls and stay in power. But Kaunda took a different path,and in so doing revived his reputation. UNIP tried to manipulate the elections but without the repression seen in places such as Kenya and Togo. The result was a landslide defeat, after which Kaunda gracefully accepted defeat and congratulated his successor.
“The inability of those in power to still the voice of their own conscience is the great force leading to change”, Kaunda had earlier written in one of his books. His willingness to concede defeat and relinquish power was thus a matter of conviction. That act allows Zambians to remember KK as a leader who put the national interest before his own and set the tradition of incumbents conceding defeat whenever they lose. The relatively poor performance of the leaders who succeeded him only served to boost his political rehabilitation. His immediate replacement, Frederick Chiluba, tried to use the fact that Kaunda had Malawian ancestry to claim he was not really Zambian and bar him from contesting the 1996 general election. Viewed against the backdrop of other presidents who divided the country, mismanaged the economy and manipulated elections, Kaunda’s record appears to be considerably more impressive.
The memory of Kaunda as a nation-builder will also be sustained by the contrast between his manner and the brash style of the contemporary political class. Despite being a national liberation hero, Kaunda never lost his human touch. I interviewed him several times and saw at first hand his modest lifestyle and lack of pretension. It was a reminder of a less cynical and more idealistic time when leaders were not assumed to be corrupt, arrogant, and flashy. It was also characteristic of Kaunda that at a time when so many of Africa’s elite fly to the United States, Europe or India for medical treatment, he was treated and died in a Zambian hospital.
There are at least nine key lessons that stand out from Kaunda’s political career
“Independence” means the restoration of the full respect, dignity, and humanity of the “African colonial native” by primarily restoring the lost connection of the African with their land, their natural resources and therefore their independent existence and spirituality. Kaunda understood this very well. This informed his struggle against colonialism: he hated the racism, oppression, domination, suppression, and exploitation of the African and their natural resources by the British colonialists. Colonialism was a negation of the humanity of the colonised African. Kaunda sought to restore our humanity. The African, to him, was just as equal to any human being as he or she has always been.
In the immediate post-colonial countries, “development” means investing in people by guaranteeing food, health, education, housing, transport, and other basic services to rapidly lift the material and cultural standards of life of the previously suppressed and dominated colonial native. This is because the departing colonial power left behind a carefully and consciously underdeveloped human population which served their interests best. There was no teeming educated Zambians at independence to run the country. Native engineers and managers were non-existent. And yet Kaunda and his small band of nationalist leaders believed they could create a self-governing independent country from “Northern Rhodesia”. Kaunda and his generation of leaders, who themselves were barely “educated” by current standards, were not defeated by the massive challenge they confronted; the challenge of rapidly raising the material and cultural standards of life of Zambians and wielding them in a single nation state.
It is fatal for developing countries like Zambia to cede state power to the private, mainly foreign, sector. Kaunda and his friends begun to construct Zambia in a world not of their choosing, a world in the grip of imperialism and the Cold War. Only men and women possessed of extreme faith in the equality of all human beings could hope to create a modern state out of the colonial human mess the British left the Zambian people with. Kaunda and his colleagues quickly realised that they had no control over key sectors of economic production, no markets other than the existing colonial markets; and that the native was not educated enough and consequently had no skills that would sustain the economy of the nation state. As a result, they could only negotiate an independent existence in the dependent structures and institutions that colonialism had conferred on Zambia at birth. In short, they realised that we were a vassal state, without the capacity to run that state. This compelled them to embark on revolutionary changes. They set out to simultaneously wrestle control of the national economy from the departing British while at the same time creating an educated and skilled Zambian cadre to run both government and the economy, and thus build a country. History has yet to pass a verdict on their efforts. Today, we often think Kaunda nationalised only the mines. This is not true. Large tracks of foreign owned companies were nationalised to pave way for Zambians to directly participate in their economy. As the state was the only organ then capable of marshalling the necessary human and other resources to lay the foundations for a national economy, with hindsight, we can now see why “nationalisation” took place, especially the way it did.
Kaunda was a progressive nationalist. Nationalism is used here to refer to a process that restores the human being to the earth (the land, minerals, fauna, vegetation, everything that produces that human bring). Such a process culminated in the creation of not only a multi-ethnic nation but also the developmental statethat provided for citizens and is now on its way out thanks to the crafty efforts of those who seek and stand to benefit from the absence of such a state. Whatever the critics say, the truth is that the developmental state was central to the significant gains that Kaunda and his colleagues recorded in different social sectors in the first decade of independence. It was as if Kaunda’s vision on the role and commitment of the state to development was spurred by the words of his mentor Julius Nyerere who once said, and I quote:
“Don’t listen to this nonsense that the state should give up the direction of the economy. It’s nonsensical. And we have so many stupid leaders who think that somehow you can hand over the development of your country to something called ‘private enterprise’ unregulated. That you just abandon it to them like that. That is idiocy. Which country has ever done that? The Japanese have not done it; the British have not done it; the Germans have not done it. The Big 7 are going to meet in Halifax. To do what? To discuss how to control the economy. It’s not a meeting of bankers. It’s a meeting of presidents and prime ministers on the economy. [By Big 7, Nyerere was referring to what today is called the G7 –a coalition of seven of the world’s advanced economies and industrialised democracies – the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom, alongside the European Union – founded in 1973 in response to the collapse of the exchange rate in the 1970s, the energy crisis, and the recession that followed. This grouping dominates global trade and the international financial system and meets annually to discuss issues such as global economic governance, international security, and energy policy.]
And these ignorant people in Africa are being deceived. Don’t do this…leave it to the private sector. Where is the private sector? Where is this private sector…to which you are going to leave the development of the country? Where is it? It needs nursing; it needs nursing before you can have it. So you nurse it. And this is what the Asian countries have done. And you go on nursing it. The Japanese did it. Korea…tough; tough. It’s only now that they are beginning to open up their market. How do you open up your market to big competitors when you have no power to compete with big competitors? It’s ridiculous. It’s like…in the world of boxing there are heavy weights; middle weights; fly weights; feather weights. And although the rules are the same you put them separately, in separate rings. The heavy weight in their own ring; the middle weights in their own ring. You don’t put in the same ring a heavyweight and a feather weights. Never. Never. How do you do that? That is murder.
But that is what The Big 7 are telling us to do. That Germany and Burkina Faso should get in the same ring. And that is called globalisation; freedom; liberalisation. This is absolute nonsense. You protect the weak until they become strong before they can compete. Always. This is the rule. This is the rule everywhere. But our leaders even when [the Group of 7] tell[s] them, they do not argue. They are afraid. You can’t say ‘no’?
[So yes, one factor that explains our underdevelopment is our own internal weaknesses [such as corruption]. [But] the internal weaknesses are not the only problem. The problem is the pressure from the rich that we should open up our markets for competition.”
Today, Kaunda and Nyerere are gone. In their place is a new cadre of political leaders without any iota of nationalism in their veins and who have lost any desire to re-build the developmental state and to identify and mobilise the social forces capable of leading the struggle for renewal and transformation such as the working-class youths from both our urban and rural social environments. Today, the region and indeed Africa face a huge leadership deficit. Where there was a Kaunda, a Nyerere, a Nkrumah, an Obote, a Kenyatta, a Sankara, a Mugabe, a Mbeki, a Senghor – in short, pan-African visionaries who governed through their own distinctive political and economic philosophies – there is now something else. To be specific, there is a new breed of leaders that is only too happy to receive and implement all manner of instructions in economic policy from the G7 and its surrogates. Totally lacking the pan African spirit of the Kaunda generation, this new generation of leaders has effectively relinquished their countries’ economic direction to the so-called private sector, falsely believing that what will facilitate investment and development is the investor from China, Canada, the EU, and the United States. The distance between them and the nationalist generation is far and wide. I celebrate Kaunda not only for believing that we Africans are full human beings capable of owning and managing our own part of the earth but also showing greater understanding, despite his limited education, that those who come here with their investment have no obligation to develop our country. They are doing it for themselves and their own countries and in the process pushing us further down.
We must neither subordinate our minds to others in ways that suggest that we Africans are inferior nor give away our natural resources through poor economic policies that perpetuate our own degrading conditions. Yes, Africa must work with others and more importantly learn — from itself and its history, from China, the US, Europe, etc. But those lessons should never be the ones prescribed to us by global powers. As Kaunda and his colleagues did, we must resist the subordination of our agendas and priorities to outside forces. Instead, we must draw from the wealth of our distinct and accumulated experiences to chart a clear course for ourselves. I acknowledge that this won’t be easy. Today, it is almost impossible to find or identify a single African leader who is pan Africanist. The mass progressive movements of the earlier decades – be they political parties, youth, women, or students’ organisations – are either dead, dysfunctional or lack a clear Africa policy, while the continental body, the African Union, appears to have lost direction.
The international context has shifted drastically and the distribution of power that existed during the Cold War era has changed. China and Russia are no longer communist societies and Africa does not have its old ideological complexion. The thrust of neoliberalism has wiped out any ideological pretensions on the continent. But our leaders must rebuild its resistance again. To do that, they must see the actual dangers posed by the US, European countries, and China, in the same way that we should have seen the seemingly innocuous arrival of David Livingstone as a hazard. We now have the experience to learn and respond better. As we do so, we must remember Thabo Mbeki’s warning: “We must free ourselves of the ‘friends’ who populate our ranks, originating from the world of the rich, who come to us, perhaps dressed in jeans and T-shirts, as advisers and consultants, while we end up as the voice that gives popular legitimacy to decisions we neither made, nor intended to make, which our ‘friends’ made for us, taking advantage of an admission that perhaps we are not sufficiently educated.”
True human progress rests on never losing sight of the significance of the individual in society! Kaunda and his colleagues understood an important point that was to be made later by former South African president Thabo Mbeki that “the dignity of the individual is both an objective which society must pursue, and is a goal which cannot be separated from the material well-being of that individual”. “The moment you have protected an individual, you have protected society”, Kaunda wrote in one of his works. It is this understanding that shaped official thinking and indeed found expression in government policy in the years after independence, as he and his colleagues attempted to create a community of human beings who then begun to develop themselves. Today, the country is lagging in the provision of services such as roads, hospitals, and schools, and the average citizen has been left without protection on all major fronts, as a result of the loss of the nationalism Kaunda struggled to plant in Zambians throughout his period in office. The overriding significance of Kaunda was that he fought for the African to be respected as a full human being, connected to their land, minerals, water, and other resources, which determine who we are. To be human, in my view, is to have mastery of the earth upon which our feet walk.
If we are to carefully scrutinise the key human development indicators in Zambia since 1991 when Kaunda left office, the regression would be shocking. We have had an inverse relationship with development over the last 30 years. For instance, we have had massive economic growth rates at different intervals and huge capital investment especially in the crucial mining sector. Yet the position of the African native is getting worse. Why? In addition, social sectors have been destroyed in a manner that reflects the weakened state’s inability to fund these things, poverty has widened, informal colonialism has acquired for itself the natural resources that Kaunda and his colleagues had reclaimed after independence, the State has been stripped off its power to pave the way for the foreign private sector, and the country’s natural wealth has no visible bearing on the material condition of the native African.
Today, we have a reliance on foreign investors not because we need them but because we have negated the development of our collective capacities and uncritically accepted the false but pervasive notion that we cannot manage our natural resources. Today, we are having a new breed of leaders with a disturbing adulation for much that is white, and who believe that only those who are imbued with superior mystical qualities than the African, represented most notably by people from faraway places such as Europe and America, can be investors and develop our country. This is not just a betrayal of independence but also the level of consciousness to which Kaunda and his nationalist colleagues tried to elevate the native.
Today, when we examine the average quality of life of a Zambian and the poverty that continues to deepen in the country, it is impossible to escape the direct co-relationship between our loss of radical nationalism as espoused by Kaunda, and our post Kaunda politics and politicians, logically culminating into the current administration which is diametrically opposed to radical nationalism! Since 1991, and now being fast tracked by the current government, Zambia is ceding its mineral, economic and political sovereignty to foreign interests. We have lost all trace of faith in the ability of Zambians, 58 years after independence, to own and manage their land and natural resources for themselves. We have severed our ambilocal cord from our land and natural resources, and the end result is jobless and poverty inducing growth throughout the country.
The combined history of slavery and colonialism has produced who we are, a people without any confidence in ourselves, constantly looking to others elsewhere for example and approval. To run away from recognising this history is to fail to recognise what will truly emancipate us. Kaunda understood that without recovering the native as a full human being, there will be no country. We must regain our humanity and collective agency, and unearth the factors that explain the degrading condition of the native nearly 60 years after independence. What is it that has reduced many of us to being scavengers in a free Zambia? Why is it that very little penetrate our consciousness outside transient or immediate concerns? What kind of a people are we?
The lack of ethical leadership has led to Zambia’s loss of partial economic sovereignty as secured by Kaunda and his friends. The results are to be seen in the country’s transport, health and education sectors. As a landlocked country, Kaunda and his colleagues understood that a first-rate and well-managed road network is critical to the imports and exports that sustain the economy, and to linking the country to the markets of Southern Africa. Today, Zambia’s main roads are in a terrible state. I am focusing on road network deliberately because the rail network is in too poor a state to even mention, having suffered decades of sustained neglect and corrupt mismanagement. Major roads between Zambia’s cities are littered with potholes with wide sections missing and no prospects of an upgrade seemingly imminent. Motorists are often obliged to go off the road and into the bush. This should be a national embarrassment. And yet the state of Zambia’s roads is taken for granted. Has our nation really sunk so low that we now have no aspiration even to have a functioning transport system?
It is hard to say what is more dangerous: the country’s roads or its hospitals. Once upon a time, we had a health system and network of provincial hospitals that, though not without their problems, at least functioned and could provide a range of basic medical services. Now, outside of a few quite good hospitals in Lusaka, it seems that a patient is more likely to survive if they stay outside any public hospital than if they entered it. This is another testament to the decades of neglect in maintaining our national infrastructure. Hospitals are crumbling with insufficient staff, shortages of medicine and a lack of basic medical equipment. Again, this should cause an outrage, since it is something that affects all of us – that is apart from those who can fly abroad to receive medical treatment.
What is worse is that this is not a problem that is concentrated in one area of the country. It is a nationwide crisis. When I visited Lewanika General Hospital in Mongu, Solwezi General Hospital in Northwestern Province and Mansa General Hospital in Luapula, for instance, I found patients lying on the floor, with no beds, let alone doctors to attend to them or medicine to cure their basic ailments. These fellow citizens had come to these hospitals for treatment and yet they were being left to die. The collapse of provincial hospitals has wider consequences. Patients, if they can survive the journey on Zambia’s deplorable roads, now travel to Lusaka’s University Teaching Hospital (UTH) and consequently place an overwhelming burden on the resources of the nation’s highest health facility. This influx of patients who are unable to obtain medical care outside the capital city has reduced UTH to the kind of death trap that mirrors the provincial hospitals these patients were trying to avoid in the first place. Instead of saving lives, our public health facilities are now dispensing death en masse. Mortuaries, rather than operating theatres, are increasingly becoming the busiest parts of our public hospitals.
The education sector is not better. At one time, Zambia’s schools were the envy of the region as the first post-independence government made strenuous efforts to create an education system in a country that had not previously possessed one. Kaunda and his nationalist friends had a hard task as, even by colonial standards, Zambia’s education system was minimal. It would appear however that recent governments have sought to rival that record. School buildings are allowed to decay. Teachers are poorly paid, with many consequently indebted as they seek to cover for what the government is not providing. Science laboratories exist in name only, while institutional houses, where these are present, look like relics from another era. Public secondary schools that were built as recently as the 1970s are now in dire need of repair. For those schools that offer boarding services, pupils are packed into filthy and overcrowded dormitories and classrooms that are falling down around them. As a result of this unfavourable learning environment, our public schools are increasingly becoming deathbeds of reason, creativity and thought, churning out social delinquents who resort to substance abuse and are useful only to political parties as these organisations engage in a vicious struggle to acquire state power through ways that break all laws and ethical norms.
Sadly, this decline in public physical infrastructure is not restricted to secondary schools. One does not have to travel far to see what has happened to the nation’s most prestigious university, the University of Zambia (UNZA). In many ways, UNZA is a microcosm of a national dream in ruins, for it has effectively become an upgraded secondary school. It is discretionary to continue calling the institution a university and miraculous that there is anything left to see at all. Many buildings that form the University of Zambia, both at Great East Road and Ridgeway campuses, look to be on the verge of collapse while some are engulfed by raw sewage from the institution’s long broken and effectively dysfunctional toilet system. When it rains, water pours into some buildings and the few resources we do possess are damaged irreparably. What is not damaged is hopelessly out-dated. The university’s main library, for instance, is like a museum of the 1970s, retaining as its latest collection books that were published when Kaunda was still a youth. Little, if anything, has been added to the collection since then. I am embarrassed when visitors come to Zambia and see what our main national university, which at one time was one of the leading higher education institutions in the region, has been reduced to.
Little to no research takes place, largely because the government no longer makes significant investment in research, science, and technology. It is no wonder that many of our university intellectuals have been retooled to primarily function as in-house advisers and consultants of multinational corporations and the so-called ‘development partners’. The smartest stars among us, continuously ignored by their own government when it comes to the formulation and implementation of policy and strategy, have been unwittingly hitched to a foreign official agenda that advances the interests of those who fund their research efforts to the detriment of our own. The university is the site of making critical knowledge and it is a shame that there is minimal support for this project from national leaders who, when it is convenient to them, decry foreign influence.
The truth is that we are a nation in terminal decline, a rot that cuts across several decades and the efforts of successive governments and one that is likely to get worse because of population growth and the mounting bill for debt service. Many people are resigned to accepting the mediocrity of our lives and leadership and what I have described above as an unfortunate but ultimately unchangeable fact about Zambia. They insist that there is little we can do to change our plight and consequently refuse to rebel against the pitiful state of our sub-human existence. This represents another kind of poverty: the poverty of ambition. At a time when the country needs a new vision – inspired in part by the very decay in both the physical infrastructure and the social supper structure I have mentioned – to enable us to transform ourselves or to create a new future by destroying the present and building in its place that which will be new, Zambia’s national politicians and educated population expend an astonishing amount of effort and energy on trivial issues, ignoring major and pressing questions of national importance: work, food, health, education and transport.
Ethical leadership results from family and community (churches and schools). Kaunda did not drop from heaven. He came from within our society, meaning we can give birth to new Kaundas. Like many of his contemporaries, Kaunda was shaped by three institutions: the family, the school, and the church. The value system that his leadership gave expression to was cultivated and nurtured by these social forces. What they lacked in formal education, they had in ethical values – courage, compassion and love for fellow human beings, moral force of character, integrity, genuine humility, honesty, a predilection for consultation, consensus-building, communication, co-operation, active listening, and the selfless pursuit of the public good, and not the selfish striving for personal gain. It is hardly possible to look at today’s leaders without being struck by the calamity of the absence of this kind of leadership. Kaunda was part of the earlier generation of public leaders who conducted themselves with dignity, grace and within the context of a value system at whose centre is the obligation to only serve the country, not self. The currency was values, not wealth or accumulation. He and his generations showed us the way. We should never dishonour their sacrifices and the cause for which they fought, for our freedom.
Democracy is additive; Zambians love having a say in how they are governed. No leader can contain this desire. Coup attempts and protests are a symptom of closing political space. It was Elias Chipimo Snr who said that ‘the multi-partyism is the surest way of avoiding coups and eliminating the disgraceful tendency of presidents ending up with bullets in their heads.’ Trade unions and churches have long defended democracy. Kaunda taught us to be resilient, never to accept rubbish, even if that rubbish came from our political leaders.
The need for leaders to invest in succession, lasting constitutional reform, build on a predecessor’s work.
There is life after State House. A leader’s willingness to leave office is informed by what they did when in power. If they stole, they would rather continue until they die or identify a pliant successor. Kaunda was involved in HIV AIDS work; mediation efforts and he became revered after 1991.
As a country, we are yet to fully comprehend what we had and then lost in Kaunda. His star is shining now and is likely to shine even brighter in the years to come, especially during episodes of stark incompetence in public office when the gods will mock us for not appreciating Kaunda and his leadership when we had them. Now that Kaunda is dead, I do think he will live forever, through the values that make us celebrate him today, if we choose to abide by them.