By Noah Hassan Abbaker
LATE pan-African icon and Zambia’s first President Dr Kenneth Kaunda was among a very few great African leaders.
This is due to the fact that he had not only led peaceful political campaign to liberate Zambia but also pioneered a practical initiative to liberate human beings from oppression and unjust treatment.
He joined the international community, represented by the United Nations (UN), to call for speedy independence of the remaining countries that were still colonised after the devastating Second World War.
Immediately after Zambia gained independence in 1964, Kaunda embarked on vigorous campaigns to liberate Africa, and South Africa in particular, from the shackles of colonialism. He played a very significant role in advocating for peaceful exit of colonialism.
He made collective efforts with Josip Broz Tito of former Yugoslavia, Fidel Castro of Cuba, Jamal Abdulnaser of Egypt, Azhari of the Sudan, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia as well as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Ben Bela of Algeria to see to it that the rights of oppressed people were observed.
Kaunda not only thought of world freedom but made sure that Southern African countries were liberated.
He supported Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and other neighbouring countries to gain independence.
Zambia’s founding father hosted, in Zambia, freedom fighters from neigbouring countries and also supported them materially and spiritually as he gave refugees shelter and allowed them to establish their countries oriented radio stations and admitted refugees at Zambia learning institutions.
Dr Kaunda played a decisive role in ending the apartheid regime in South Africa through tough negotiations until the regime it succumbed and surrendered power to black majority rule.
It is believed that Nelson Mandela took a leaf from Dr Kaunda’s commitment to non-violence and forgave perpetrators of the apartheid regime who imprisoned him for 27 years.
Internationally, Dr Kaunda supported the right of the Palestinian people to have their own independent land and called for co-existence between Palestinians and Israelis.
Dr Kaunda also cemented relations with countries in the Middle East, having been a good friend to the Saudi Arabia monarchy.
He maintained close friendly relations with late King Faisal Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia and established an embassy in Riyadh in the early 1980s.
Dr Kaunda, also cemented relations with the Americas and European countries while maintaining socialism policies.
He was not only interested in politics but also played an instrumental role in economic development beyond Zambia.
He initiated the establishment of the Preferential Trade Area (PTA), which is currently known as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), was initiated by him in the early 1980s.
PTA almost collapsed due to financial challenges but a quick intervention by Kaunda saved the organisation as the man who engineered its establishment provided a building to be used as a secretariat.
He also encouraged PTA and Southern African Development Community (SADC ) countries to march forward for the sake of socio-economic development.
Today, COMESA countries working to harmonize trade and freedom of movement of people and goods.
Due to the wise leadership of Dr Kaunda who also played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Southern African Development Community (SADC ), the regional community has been united and helping to settle internal disputes such as the power struggle which arose in Madagascar, as well as the border conflict the arose between Zambia and DR Congo.
Both cases were peacefully resolved within the SADC initiatives.
Zambians should feel proud that Kaunda lifted the name of their country to the highest level.
Zambia is internationally known as a bearer of peace and has frequently provided peacekeeping troops to the UN.
As Zambia draws close to holding general elections on August 12, stakeholders in the country should inherit Dr Kaunda’s love for peace so that the politicians can remember that Zambia managed to maintain peace and became a second home for tens of thousands of refugees who had run away from conflict zones in Zambia’s neighbouring countries.
African countries must learn from how Zambia has managed to maintain peace from independence.
For people in Zambia, the only way to honour and remember Dr Kaunda is to stick to peace. Though Zambians and Africans in general have lost a great leader, Zambian’s must demonstrate their respct for their founding father Dr Kaunda and keep his spirit of “One Zambia One Nation” alive together with his famous patriotic song, Tiyende pamodzi ndi m’tima umo.
As Zambia mourns, I propose that April 28, which is Dr Kaunda’s birthday, be declared as a national day of peace so that people may reflect on the life of the KK who influenced events across the entire continent.
I also suggest that his history be taught in schools as it is a very rich topic for masters and PhD research.
I equally urge the African Union (AU), which recently honoured Dr Kaunda during the 2021 Africa Freedom Day, to also benefit from Kaunda’s wisdom in managing conflicts in Africa through establishment of an institute, named after Dr Kaunda, of conflict management and resolution, which is most needed in Africa.
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