Leaders bid farewell to “KK”


WITH white handkerchiefs, a 21 gun salute, a military flypast, song and praise, Zambia today bid farewell to its famous son, Kenneth Kaunda, its founding president who passed away at 96.

Southern African heads of states and government today paid glowing tributes to Kaunda under whose leadership Zambia played a key role in the liberation of their countries. Kaunda led Zambia to independence from British colonial rule in 1964 and backed freedom movements that overcame colonial settlers and brought majority rule to Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Former President of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete, speaking on behalf of the current head of state Samia Suluhu Hassan, described Kaunda as an iconic leader, a great Pan African and a hero of the African liberation struggle. “KK worked with other leaders to advance the course of the liberation of Southern Africa,” he said.

Kikwete said the Tanzanians remembered, with fondness, the close relationship that Kaunda had with Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the founding President of Tanzania. “His name will always be written in gold,” he said.

Moeketsi Majoro, the Prime Minister of Lesotho, called on southern African leaders to honour Kaunda and his legacy by pulling millions of citizens out of poverty.

Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of South Africa, said Kaunda was Africa’s gift to humanity.

Ramaphosa thanked Kaunda and the Zambians for the role they played in the struggle against apartheid. Zambia was home to the ANC, the current governing party in SA, when it was banned by the apartheid government.

Ramaphosa said: “He stood by us during our long struggle for liberation. Even as the brutal apartheid regime sought to wreak havoc in the Frontline States in its efforts to destroy the liberation movement, Dr Kaunda stood firm, and never wavered in his support for the people of South Africa and the region.  Zambia provided us with material and moral support, and gave refuge to our leaders. South Africa is grateful we could acknowledge Dr Kaunda’s great role in our struggle for freedom during his lifetime.

“In 2002 he was bestowed with one of our highest national orders, The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in Gold. Today is the passing of an era. Dr Kaunda was one of the last surviving leaders of the generation who lit the path to Africa’s freedom from colonial misrule. He has left us, but we know that what he stood for, the standard of leadership he set, and his progressive ideals, live on. Dr Kaunda was a man for all seasons. As a freedom fighter he led the liberation movement to victory and independence.

“As a President he led with humility and selflessness. He walked among the people. He refused to surround himself with the trappings of power and influence. He was a man of extraordinary empathy. He was often moved to tears of compassion against injustice. He was an elder statesman who even after leaving office played an important role in national life, advocating for important causes like HIV/Aids, peace and conflict resolution. He was a lifelong pan-Africanist who worked to advance African unity and integration. He loved young people. “He wrote of how being among youth always filled him with humility and respect. He called on Africa’s youth to work hard, to reject lives of idleness and vice, and to be part of nation- building, saying: “The fate of this country is in their hands. He was a champion of African self-reliance. We draw strength and inspiration for this now more than ever, as we find ourselves in the grip of a deadly pandemic. He would be proud to see us working together to bring a recovery to our continent that is rooted in compassion and human dignity.

“Like the mighty and noble African fish eagle that adorns the national flag of Zambia, Comrade KK has soared into the sunset. He has left a Zambia proud and free. He has left an Africa united and strong. In taking forward his legacy, let it be that Dr Kaunda’s teachings on compassion, empathy and dignity are Africa’s gift to humankind. And that in the words of Steve Bantu Biko, it is we, the peoples of Africa, who bestow on the world a more human face.”

The president of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa, who lived and studied in Zambia,  said Kaunda was an epitome of humility, wisdom and a source of inspiration. “He was a torchbearer of freedom and the emancipation of all Africans,’ Mnangagwa said.

President Nana Akufi-Addo of Ghana described Kaunda as a great humanist and freedom fighter. 

Hein Geingob, who arrived in Zambia as a 34 year-old in exile and went on to become president of Nambia, a country that Kaunda helped to free, paid an emotional tribute to Kaunda.

Geingob said Kaunda’s contribution to the freedom of the people of Namibia was immense. “We will not only celebrate your legacy but we vow to live it,” he said.

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