Veteran politician Vernon Johnson Mwaanga has urged young Zambians to dream big and work hard if they want their aspirations and dreams to become a reality.

Speaking during a party to celebrate his 75th birthday at Lusaka’s Intercontinental Hotel, Tuesday, Mwaanga gave an emotional speech where he reminisced about his early life as a young and dedicated public servant who worked hard to fulfill all his dreams.

“When I was growing up as a boy, I had a dream. It was my special dream. I had a dream to become a husband, a father, a grandfather and great-grandfather. I had a dream to become a public servant and travel all over this beautiful world and this beautiful country traversing the terrain over hills and valleys and meeting people from all provinces from our great country. I also had the aspirations to travel all over the world and meet people from all walks of life. I am grateful to God, our creator, for making my dream come true. Today, I am a very proud husband with a wonderful wife in whom I am still very well pleased. I have been a public servant and I have travelled to 146 countries around the world, 47 of them in Africa alone, and these are on all the continents. I have travelled each and every island, but much more than this, I always did it my way. So, ladies and gentlemen, Zambia is also a land where dreams can be realised. In fact, it is a land where dreams come true. It is the land of the Zambian dream,” Mwaanga said.

“I, therefore, urge you, especially the younger generation to dream big! Work hard and watch your dreams unfold and become a reality. As a public servant, I learnt the essence of humility, a quality that I consider priceless. I also learnt to appreciate the importance of integrity in public life. Discipline was instilled in me as well as the importance of hard work. I was taught that the public was, and I would like to believe that it still is, not about serving self. It’s about serving the people; service to humanity is in my opinion a small price we have to pay for the space that we occupy on this earth. I did my best to serve the people of our country when I was working in the public service as a civil servant and also as a leader.”

Mwaanga, who also acknowledged his failures and mistakes, urged the younger generation not to be held back by their past wrong deeds, saying no single human was perfect, except God.

“My best may not have been the best and it may not have been good enough, but then, no man can do more than his best…Yes, there were times when I did more than I could chew. But through it all, when there was doubt, I ate it up and spat it out. I faced it all and stood tall and did it my way. I did so without any sense of bitterness, I did so without any sense of hatred or ill-will towards anybody. I leave these two evils for lesser persons. I may have rubbed a few shoulders the wrong way. I apologise! Life, thus far, has not always been rosy. Yes, I have laughed, I have loved, I have also had my low moments and my share of loss, disappointments and even failure. But as the French say c’est la vie (such is life),” said Mwaanga.

“I always remain optimistic about the future and I believe that no person is perfect; no marriage is perfect; no institution is perfect; no country is perfect; no leader is perfect and no family is perfect. We do have a perfect God, my God has allowed me to live on this earth for 75 years today and for that, I shall remain eternally grateful and feel blessed. I thank God because he has made it possible for me to live what can truly be described as an extraordinary life! I have become more appreciative of the fact that it is important to live each day as if it is the last. Let us all love one another, practice tolerance, forgiveness and work hard to make our country and, indeed, the world, a better place for all.”