PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says former president Rupiah Banda will be remembered as a man of integrity and one who promoted national unity and peace.

And Banda’s widow, Thandiwe, says he changed her life for the better.

Speaking during Banda’s funeral church service held at the Anglican Cathedral, Friday, President Hichilema said Banda gave everyone deserving attention, even when he had a different point of view.

“We celebrate the dear life of our dear RB, we thank God for giving us him. RB was a son as we have heard already, a brother, a husband, a father, a grandfather, truly a diplomat, a politician, I am happy to say our fellow farmer. We will remember president Banda as a man of integrity, a man who promoted national unity, indeed peace and harmony in our country. In a country where sometimes some of us try to drive more issues of divisions yet there are a lot of things that unite us. The things that unite us must override, must glide over the few things that may divide us. Very important lesson, I think we must all learn it and live it. It will help us to put that glue, all the time amongst our people when we need it the most. Thank you RB for us,” he said.

“RB, as you have heard, looked at many people from their positive side. That too is a very important lesson, God made us, some of us tall, some of us short, some of us dark, some of us lighter. All of us are his creations by his own design. We learn that lesson from RB as well. Fellow mourners, president Rupiah Banda would be remembered for his humility as well. He gave each one of us deserving attention, even when he had a different point of view, he still gave us his ear, he still gave us his attention. Big lesson, because if we have time to listen to each other, we may just pick something that is amiss, which may help resolve the challenge that we are faced with at that particular time.”

He said Banda had the ability to create a calm atmosphere when there was tension around.

“President Banda, as we have heard from those who knew him better than some of us, he had a great sense of humour. President Banda had the ability to create a calm atmosphere even when there is tension around, I think that is important. Sometimes the tension is based on fairly baseless issues and when you look at them in a lighter way, you see that really there is no reason to create dust when we can create calmness. To the Banda family, we encourage you to look to God, the Almighty for strength, for comfort during this difficult time. We celebrate, we just don’t mourn him, we celebrate him as well,” said President Hichilema.

“That aspect of the same coin, one side is mourning, the other side is celebration, I think must be taken as a package. We celebrate RB, the things that we have been saying since he passed on are reasons why we should celebrate him. His was a life well-lived, he has left us with memories and a legacy which will last forever.”

And Thandiwe, who gave her tribute to her late husband through a family friend, Alice Banda, said Banda changed her life for the better.

“You came into my life 20 years ago and I was forever changed for the better. You were larger than life and filled any space you chose to occupy with exuberant joy, warmth, kindness and laughter. It was never a dull moment with you. I can honestly say that there is nobody else I would have rather shared the past 20 years of my life with. You generously shared your memories with me whilst you created new ones of our own. I am so grateful to Jehovah that I was blessed to be beside you, holding your hands and telling you how much I love you when the time came for you to go,” said Banda

Meanwhile, Dean and Vicar General of the Anglican Diocese of Lusaka, Reverend Charley Thomas said Banda ran his race faithfully no matter what the season.

“We are gathered here to celebrate, there is no way we can keep on mourning such a great life, to celebrate the life of His Excellency Dr Rupiah Bwezani Banda. A liberation activist, a visionary, an economist, a parastatal CEO and businessman, member of parliament, district governor, diplomat, foreign affairs minister, Vice president, president and senior statesman. As citizens, we celebrate hope, resurrection and new life, a transition from one seasoned life to another. President Rupiah Banda has reminded us several times that he is who he is because of the opportunity he was given by president Kaunda and indeed by president Mwanawasa,” said Rev Thomas.

“President Rupiah Banda just practiced what Jesus taught, sometimes even without realizing it. He ran his race faithfully no matter what the season. The humble, peacemaker, diplomat, statesman, the achiever of much, not perfect and he never claimed to be perfect. May the life and times of his Excellency Rupiah Bwezani Banda inspire us all to be faithful to the divine purpose of our lives. God bless the Republic, guide our leaders and pay peace reign in our land.”