Embassy Park: History in one place

PRESIDENT Mwanawasa’s mausoleum.

THREE men lie here. They were leaders of their time. Loved by some and criticised by others because life consists of both supporters and critics.
During the commemoration of Zambia’s Independence anniversary last month, President Lungu and visiting Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, each laid wreaths at the mausoleums where Zambians three past presidents lie.
They lay resting at this site, partly dedicated to the preservation of their memory. Each stood for something for which he is remembered and each mausoleum bears elements dedicated to that memory.
One of the easiest things for a human being to do is forget. Keeping the memory of a country’s leaders even long after they have crossed over to the other side is however critical because attached to their memory are their legacies.
Embassy Park in Lusaka is seldom visited by local tourists, but for the foreign tourists that saunter there or stop over daily, they find a piece of Zambian history in one place.
Joseph Mutale, an assistant curator at Embassy Park, took time to explain what the various features of the different mausoleums denote.
Second Republican President, Frederick Chiluba, was known for various things of course, least of which was his fashion sense and love of exquisite clothing.
The image of him in high heeled designer shoes was captured by both local and international media during his tenure as president.
This undying love of fashion which stayed with him till death, is represented by the outer marble pavement at his mausoleum, designed in the shape of a necktie.
But President Chiluba is not just remembered for his stylish ways.
On December 29, 1991, he declared Zambia a Christian nation, a declaration that is recognised to this day.
As a leader who professed his Christian faith publicly, this declaration has endured even after his death.
“President Chiluba’s mausoleum is shaped in the design of a chapel and has ten pillars to show that he completed two full terms in office,” Mr Mwale explained.
Atop his mausoleum is a cross, the universal symbol of Christianity and just below the cross is a small structure representing a house.
The house highlights another aspect that President Chiluba is specifically remembered for, which was spearheading housing projects in different parts of the country.
Notable is the Bennie Mwiinga Housing Initiative off Great East Road in Lusaka.
One of the hardest things for a country to endure is the death of a sitting president. Zambia has had to experience this more than once in under a decade.
Five wide steps lead into the mausoleum of Zambia’s third Republican president, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa.
The huge stone pillars outside the mausoleum are in the shape of a boot, denoting his commitment to stamping out corruption; a vow whose fulfilment was short lived due to his death.
Despite not completing his second term in office, Mwanawasa’s legacy of having no tolerance towards corruption and his determination to steer the country on the path to economic development, remains the strongest memory imprinted in the minds of Zambians.
The five wide steps which depict the five years he served and completed a full term in office, are followed by three narrower ones to show that his second term in office was incomplete due to his death while serving the country.
Mr Mutale explained: “The first set of steps are meant to symbolise his first complete term in office. Then we have the sixth and seventh steps which are not as wide as the first five to symbolise his second term which was cut short.”
After the three narrow steps is a black surface which demonstrates that President Mwanawasa died during the third year of his second term in office.
Additionally, President Mwanawasa’s mausoleum is shaped like a stool to show that he died as a sitting president.
“We do not allow visitors to step on the black surface. They can only go up to the steps,” he explained.
Despite still being under construction, the third mausoleum at Embassy Park, dedicated to fifth Republican president, Michael Sata, also bears features reflecting different facets of his presidency.
When President Sata was administered the Oath of Office in September, 2011, he made a number of pronouncements that came to define his rule.
One of those pronouncements was that he would rule Zambia according to the Ten Commandments. To depict this, his mausoleum contains ten steps leading to the upper section.
President Sata also created a tenth province which is represented by another ten steps at the lower level of his mausoleum.
The late President’s mausoleum is also the only one out of the three that is two storeyed with a lower and an upper section.

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