He was known for numerous appealing traits, for being a unifier, liberator, peacemaker and founding father of the nation. This is what stands out to Zambians and Africans at large when they talk about Zambia’s first Republican President Dr Kenneth Kaunda, fondly referred to as KK, who breathed his last on Thursday, June 17, 2021.
Dr Kaunda was a selfless man who helped African states in their struggle for decolonisation. In 1964, he led Zambia to independence from British rule, and made sure that other countries in the region freed themselves from colonial rule.
One would call Dr Kaunda’s dedicated patriot who loved and believed in his country wholeheartedly, such that it is impossible to utter the slogan, One Zambia, One Nation without referencing Dr Kaunda. KK detested tribalism and made sure that all the 72 tribes in the country were united.
The song, “Tiyende pamodzi ndi mtima umo” means let us move together with one heart, and that was his footprint, symbolising that every man and woman was equal regardless of tribe, race, political affiliations and religious beliefs.
Former Finance Minister, Ng’andu Magande worked under KK’s administration for 20 years, serving as Permanent Secretary for Central Province, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Ministry of Agriculture and Water Development, and the National Commission for Development Planning.
Magande, whose last post in government was Minister of Finance under Levy Mwanawasa’s administration, recalls that KK was inclusive when it came to decision making and always sought a collective decision regarding the direction of the country.
He was speaking when he featured on the Oxfam sponsored ‘Our Zambia’ discussion program that aired on Radio Phoenix last Thursday.
“I first came face to face with Dr Kaunda in 1974, it was at a Cabinet meeting at State House. When I arrived at State house as a young man, I thought I would see this person in a different mood but what amazed me as we were getting to break time, he started serving us tea. It is very rare when you go to someone’s house and they serve you tea. Most of us would call the house maid or your young sons to come and serve the visitors,” Magande said.
“But Dr Kaunda actually served me tea together with senior people who were there and I felt very welcome in his presence. I felt I was before somebody who knew who he was, where he had come from and he knew where he was going but he wanted a collective decision of Cabinet together with some of us to agree where Zambia should be in terms of agriculture development.”
Magande went on to share a message with Zambians on rebuilding the economy, tribalism, and free and fair elections.
“The thing that I would want to appeal, if you are not prepared to pick one trait of who Kaunda was and what he did please don’t go to his house to go and mourn him. He is not interested, he can’t even hear you. What you should do is, do as [he] did. If you are going to emulate Dr Kaunda, emulate him in the right way and don’t shed tears for the cameras. It doesn’t help anybody. This was a great person as an individual,” he said.
Magande challenged leaders to avoid talking about things they owned, but instead, think of the legacy they would leave behind in relation to KK’s favourite scripture “love your neighbour as you love yourself”.
And Lesley Mbula who is former Secretary to the Cabinet said Dr Kaunda was an Africanist and believed that if countries that surrounded Zambia were not independent, Zambia’s democracy was meaningless.
“Dr Kaunda believed that Zambia’s independence alone was inadequate, he believed that if other countries surrounding Zambia were not independent, Zambia’s independence was meaningless. He was truly an Africanist. He was truly the architect of Zambia’s independence. Some people think he was a dictator but to me, he wasn’t, he just responded to certain circumstances that were prevailing at the time. It is a great loss especially to Zambia, Africa and the world. We should mourn, remembering the many things he did for the country. He coined the “One Zambia, One Nation slogan and put it into practice,” said Mbula.
Vice-President Inonge Wina reminisces that Dr Kaunda was enthusiastic and passionate about quality education illustrated by the introduction of free education in the country.
Peter Kaunda, a netizen who followed the program said people like Magande who drew wisdom from KK needed to provide guidance.
“I’m so glad to hear Mr Magande speak. We really do need people like him that have drawn so much wisdom from KK to be around to guide leaders of today that are busy pioneering tribalism,” said Kaunda.
Opangika Odala from Kenya added that the continent needed a collective vision to address high poverty.
“The big question is how can the leaders we have today come together and map a vision for the country? We need a collective vision regardless of political affiliation. In the pre-independence era, colonialism and the desire for independence gave our forefathers a common enemy, a collective dream, a communal cause. I put it to you that in this post-independence era, poverty should be our common enemy, injustice, pandemics, these are our collective enemies,” said Odala.
Indeed, Dr Kaunda was a great son of the world, an educator, activist, freedom fighter, a father of many, a worshiper, a musician, a bold visionary, a pan-Africanist, a humanist and much more.
We end with KK’s call-to-action to all of us, made in his tribute to the late president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela: “This great son of the world, Madiba, showed us the way. Whether you are white, black, yellow or brown you are all God’s children, come together, work together and God will show you the way”.
We salute you Dr Kenneth David Kaunda, may your soul rest in eternal peace. 28 April 1924 – 17 June 2021.
#OurZambia is a Civil Society Poverty Observatory Group and Oxfam governance platform that brings citizens and experts together to share knowledge, experience and speak to power on issues affecting the nation. To join the conversation, follow the link below: