KASUBA MULENGA, Lusaka
SOME have styled him as an eloquent man who immeasurably contributed to the 1990/1991 political revolution while others have described him as a person who brought excellence to Zambiaâ€™s diplomatic service.
Many will also reminisce the dedicated service to the nation of a statesman in Elias Chipimo Senior, who will be interred today at his Pakawama Farm in Lusakaâ€™s New Kasama.
The career diplomat, veteran politician, former freedom fighter and affectionate father, died on January 18 at Linksfield Cancer Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, after being diagnosed with cancer of the stomach.
â€œIt is with a deep and profound sense of regret that I announce the death of my father, Mr Chipimo Senior. Dad died just after 08:00 hours this morning surrounded by five of his seven children,â€ his son Elias Chipimo Junior announced the demise of the statesman in a statement last week.
Upon being informed that his father had been diagnosed with cancer of the stomach, Mr Chipimo, the National Restoration Party president (NAREP), temporarily suspended his campaigns for last Tuesdayâ€™s presidential election to attend to the hospitalised parent.
And when information filtered in that the octogenarian had died, commiseration messages started trickling in from a cross section of society.
â€œHe will be remembered for his eloquence, and most importantly, his invaluable contribution during the 1990/1991 revolution,â€ said Martin Amukusana.
â€œThe news of the passing of our parent, Mr Elias Chipimo Senior, has spread a sorrowful cloud across our nation, Zambia, more so since even your political stance is about love- pamutima (heart).
â€œMay the Lord strengthen you all and all the members of the Chipimo family during this trying moment,â€ Saviour Katewa stated in a message to Mr Chipimo Junior.
Stephen Banda, another citizen, described Mr Chipimo Senior as a true Zambian son with a passion for a better future for all Zambians.
â€œThe beginning is the same. The journey is diverse, sometimes short, sometimes longer. The legacy may be different, the reputation mighty, yet the end is the same for all humanity. May the once upon-a-time-hero and source of inspiration rest in peace,â€ Mr Banda said.
â€œElias, I will always remember Uncle Elias with very fond memories, both in Zambia and here in Japan. My deepest condolences to you and your family,â€ Japan-based Prisca Molotsi posted on the NAREP leaderâ€™s Facebook page.
Another citizen, Mainza Hatembo, said: â€œCondolences to the Chipimo family on our great loss. I will always remember your dad and his green hands, whatever he planted always grew. He will always live in our hearts. We have lost a giant. Keep walking in his shoes guys.â€
While the general citizenry is mourning Mr Chipimo Senior in a myriad ways, some of those who had a memorable opportunity to work with him have fondly described him as a gallant man who never departed from calling a spade a spade.
â€œI had a privilege of working with him in Government in the early days of independence, and in the early 60s up to the time he was appointed diplomat to the United Kingdom. This is the time when I was also appointed ambassador to the United Nations,â€ recalls Vernon Mwaanga, a veteran politician, former diplomat and Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services.
â€œLater, we worked together to form the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD). I remember him as a seriously independence-minded person who rose up to the National Council meeting of UNIP where he spoke out very openly about decisions government had made. He continued this even in the MMD government.â€
In the words of Dr Mwaanga, Mr Chipimo Senior â€œwas a breath of fresh air in our political system, who spoke out seriously when most people were afraid to speak.
â€œHe will occupy a special place in the history of Zambia in so far as our return to multi-party politics and constitutional democracy is concerned. We will miss him as a friend and I am sure that Zambia as a whole will miss his independence of mind.â€
Having been a career diplomat of his repute, Mr Chipimo Senior is being remembered for his excellence in foreign service.
â€œHe brought excellence to the diplomatic service and his works are there to see. We should all emulate his dedication to hard work,â€ urges Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba.
â€œHe ensured that Zambia had enhanced bilateral relations at regional, continental and global levels.â€
His son, Mr Chipimo Junior, remembers him as a man who loved his family very much, a man whose true freedom entailed speaking oneâ€™s mind.
â€œHe is a man who understood the price of true freedom, thatâ€™s why he joined the MMD when multi-party democracy dawned and spoke against the mighty state of one-party democracy under KK,â€ Mr Chipimo says.
Mr Chipimo Senior was born in 1931 in Chief Shibwalya Kapilaâ€™s Chelengenya village in Mporokoso, Northern Province.
As a father of four boys and three girls, Mr Chipimo Senior loved his family delicately and fended for his children without preferential treatment to any of them.
â€œHe had no favourite child, he loved everyone of us equally. I was named after him because at the time of baptism, they had not yet given me a name. So a priest who was staying with us suggested that I be named after him and everyone agreed,â€ Mr Chipimo Junior recollects.
As a diplomat, Mr Chipimo Senior worked in the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan. When the MMD was formed, the process he deeply got involved in, and when they formed government, he was appointed Lusaka Province Minister in October 1991 by late former President Frederick Chiluba.
And way back in the UNIP government when he was appointed High Commissioner to Britain, Mr Chipimo Senior, who at some point served as chairman of Standard Bank Zambia Limited, said he regarded improving relations between Zambia and Britain as a challenge.
In his view, the events concerning the two countries would be reviewed and an understanding could be reached.
Relations between the two countries, strained as a result of the Rhodesian situation, plunged to an all-time low following the â€œtoothless bulldogâ€ remarks by Mr Ali Simbule, Mr Chipimoâ€™s predecessor.
It was on this premise that as new High Commissioner to Britain, Mr Chipimo felt the role of diplomacy ought to be underscored by Zambia. Strategically placed people ought to be selected to project the good image of the country.
To succeed in playing that role, Mr Chipimo believed a diplomat must not only act rightly and correctly but must also ensure that he or she is correctly interpreted abroad.
On the prospect of working in Britain, Mr Chipimo said: â€œIt is one thing working as a mercenary in a country, and another, working for the pursuit of maintaining the interest of oneâ€™s country. What is more significant is the responsibility in my hand.â€
Mr Chipimo was educated up to secondary school level in Zambia. He graduated at Fort Hare University in South Africa and later pursued a diploma in Education at the University College of Salisbury.
Before he went to The Hague, Netherlands, in 1964 to undergo foreign service training, he taught at Munali and Chizongwe schools.
Here, he was particularly interested in the publication of school magazines. Later, he was co-founder member of New Writing from Zambia of which he became secretary.
In literary circles, Mr Chipimo was co-author of secondary school English textbook â€˜My Land and Peopleâ€™ and assisted in editing a new Longmans series on English Language for Zambian schools.
He also worked as editor and proof-reader in the Zambia Publications Bureau.
Indeed, so many accolades for a great man who would have turned 84 on February 23 if God gave him some more days to live.
If the dead heard the diversity of praises people shower on them, Mr Chipimo Senior could certainly have been among the countless to have risen to thank people for their applauses.
KASUBA MULENGA, Lusaka