Editor's Comment

Kaunda deserves Africa honour

KAUNDA

VETERAN freedom fighter Sikota Wina says the African Union (AU) should confer a special recognition on Zambia’s first President Kenneth Kaunda for his role in the liberation of several African countries.
Mr Sikota’s sentiments are certainly valid considering the sacrifice Zambia’s founding father made for the liberation of other African countries.
The role Dr Kaunda played in helping other African countries get free from minority colonial rule is well documented.
Today, Zambia stands out in the narratives of African history as one of the frontline states that immensely sacrificed towards the emancipation of the continent.
At the time of Zambia’s independence in 1964, many of the African countries surrounding her were still under colonial rule.
After gaining independence, Dr Kaunda, as Head of State, was faced with two choices – either to concentrate on building the country’s economy, which was fragile at the time, or to continue fighting for the liberation of other African states at the expense of the former.
Dr Kaunda chose to offer unwavering support to the freedom struggle of Africa.
As Mr Wina notes, the role Zambia played in the liberation struggle of Africa was anchored on Dr Kaunda’s political philosophies.
Dr Kaunda believed that the liberation of Zambia was meaningless without the liberation of Africa.
On April 26, 1966, Dr Kaunda had declared that “Zambia will not be independent and free until the rest of Africa is free”.
It was this philosophy that was instrumental in liberating other African countries.
In tandem with his philosophical convictions, Dr Kaunda and other nationalists offered Zambia as a base for liberation movements, though at an enormous economic and security cost.
A liberation centre with 13 liberation movements was established in Lusaka with the support of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Liberation Committee.
During the liberation struggle, Dr Kaunda accommodated, among others, the African National Congress (ANC) and Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) and the Unity Movement of South Africa; Movement for the People’s Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA); Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), South-West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) of Namibia; the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU).
It is a known fact that hosting these movements came at a huge cost in terms of human life, infrastructure, stability and economic growth. For instance, Zambia became a target for colonialists’ attacks, which claimed hundreds of lives and destroyed infrastructure.
Besides sheltering freedom fighters, Dr Kaunda also played a proactive advocacy role in the liberation struggle of Africa.
In 1969, Zambia hosted a meeting of liberated East and Central African states, which came up with the Lusaka Manifesto of Southern Africa committing that the country would always promote negotiation over violence, but it did state that violence could be used as a last resort if all else failed.
In 1974, when Zimbabwean freedom fighters, Joshua Nkomo, Ndabaningi Sithole and Robert Mugabe were imprisoned under the white rule, President Kaunda engaged South African Prime Minister John Vorster to intervene by taking advantage of the stranglehold his country had over Rhodesia. The political leaders were released thereafter.
In 1975, when Portugal came under new leadership after a coup, Dr Kenneth Kaunda was instrumental in mobilising Angolan and Mozambican freedom fighters to push for their liberation. Mozambique was liberated on June 25, 1975 and Angola, November 11, the same year.
In 1982, Dr Kaunda met South African Prime Minister PW Botha to negotiate for the release of Nelson Mandela and other freedom fighters.
The role that Dr Kaunda played in the liberation struggle of Africa is evidently undebatable.
This is why many African leaders to date pay tribute to Zambia and its founding father KK for the role played in the liberation of Africa.
The narrative of Africa and SADC’s liberation is incomplete without the mention of Dr Kaunda.
Despite these efforts, it is not convincing that the African Union has not bestowed upon Dr Kaunda the befitting honour of African icon.
During the liberation struggle Dr Kaunda acted beyond national interest to embrace the whole Africa. He demonstrated that he is a true son of Africa.
This is why we agree with Mr Wina that if there is any honour to be given let it be done now while he is still alive. Let us move away from the culture of wanting to honour people in death.
It is therefore important that the AU takes advantage of occasions such as the Heroes Day, which is being commemorated today to honour great sons and daughters of Africa, who have contributed immensely to the continent development. Dr Kaunda is certainly one such hero who deserves honour.

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