CHAMBO NG’UNI, Kapiri Mposhi
MULUNGUSHI Rock of Authority is one historic venue in Zambia that holds a special place in the heart of first republican President Kenneth Kaunda.
The last time Dr Kaunda could have been at this revered place was before the 1991 general elections during the United National Independence Party (UNIP) convention during a period when a political wind of change was blowing across the county.
This is the place Mulungushi University chose to bestow on Dr Kaunda a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (Honoris causa) in Political Science on November 10, 2017 during the ninth graduation ceremony held under the theme ‘Graduateness for National Imperatives’.
Since the late 1950s to date, major national policy addresses and political decisions that have shaped Zambia have been held at this rock.
The Zambian African National Congress (ZANC), under the leadership of Kenneth Kaunda held one of its early meetings on October 26, 1958 at the Mulungushi Rock of Authority.
When UNIP broke away from ZANC, the new political party held its first meeting at the rocky secluded area near Mulungushi River in 1960.
The delegates mapped a political strategy that helped Zambia gain her freedom from Britain in 1964. More than 2,000 nationalists attended.
Former UNIP secretary-general Grey Zulu, one of Dr Kaunda’s peers and freedom fighters, is among people credited for having sighted the place later to be called Mulungushi Rock of Ages or Mulungushi Rock of Authority.
The Mulungushi Declaration or Mulungushi Reforms held in 1968 is one of the outstanding meetings held at Mulungushi Rock of Authority.
At this meeting, Dr Kaunda announced his government’s intention to nationalise key foreign-owned firms which were placed under the control of the Industrial Development Corporation.
“Being here today is a profoundly moving experience for me. As many of you may be aware these grounds where the university is situated have special significance for me and for our country as well,” Dr Kaunda said.
“I recollect that it was here that United National Independence Party crafted the master plan that led to independence in 1964,” he said.
After independence, UNIP held conferences at this venue located in Kapiri Moshi to map the way forward for Zambia until 1991 when Dr Kaunda lost power to the Movement for Multiparty Democracy.
“It was here that bonds of friendship which led to the formation of the ‘Mulungushi Club’ were forged with leaders such as Julius Kambarage Nyerere of Tanzania and Milton Obote of Uganda,” Dr Kaunda said with nostalgia.
At the 1968 conference, Dr Kaunda’s government made a decision to establish The President Citizenship College (PCC) as an institution for labour studies near Mulungushi Rock of Authority.
Dr Kaunda opened PCC in 1974 and the institution’s mandate was to provide leadership training to officers in Government, parastatal organisations and labour movement.
PCC’s cores values were to inculcate the values of humility, selflessness and public services among leaders.
PCC was in 1994, transformed into National College of Management and Development Studies before Mulungushi University came into being on December 31, 2007.
“The core values of national unity, patriotism and Zambian humanism that guided UNIP in the first three decades of Zambia’s independence were developed where Mulungushi University stands,” the 93-year-old former head of State said.
“I would dearly love to see Mulungushi University become the rock on which we can further build our “One Zambia, One Nation”.
Mulungushi University bestowed the honour on Dr Kaunda in recognition of his illustrious and laudable accomplishments.
The university’s deputy- vice chancellor Judith Lungu said Dr Kaunda deserves unwavering recognition and appreciation globally.
Dr Lungu said as a leader of the movement for self-determination in the territory of Northern Rhodesia, Dr Kaunda preached pacifist principles of non-violence and dialogue to his people.
In a citation before Mulungushi University chancellor Oliver Saasa bestowed the inaugural honour on him, Dr Lungu said through Dr Kaunda’s leadership, Zambia gained her independence in 1964 thus become a republic.
As a pan- Africanist, Dr Kaunda belonged to a rare league of visionaries. His towering figure in the movement to emancipate Africa and her people from colonial oppression and humiliation was noticeable.
Dr Kaunda, who ruled Zambia for 27 years as an international statesman, exhibited formidable diplomatic skills which were recognised when he was elected in 1970 and 1987 as chairman of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
In 1970, he was elected chairman of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM). He later served as chairman of the Frontline States (FLS) from 1985 to 1991.
Dr Kaunda was also involved in fighting apartheid in South Africa and played a role in the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.
Elsewhere and beyond Africa, Dr Kaunda mediated in the Kenya-Somalia border disputes in 1967, in Chad in 1987 to 1988, Western Sahara in 1977, Arab-Israel conflicts in 1970 to 1973 and during the Iran-Iraq conflict in 1979to 1989.
Dr Lungu said as the wind of change was blowing in Zambia, Dr Kaunda accepted change and when he lost election he handed power over to Fredrick Chiluba.
“By accepting the outcome of that landmark election, Dr Kaunda, you demonstrated a level of humility that remains rare on the African continent, and unknowingly set a standard for political leaders in Zambia and Africa,” she said.
Dr Lungu said Dr Kaunda demonstrated farsighted vision by establishing PCC (now Mulungushi University) as a centre to inculcate into middle and high level public servants normative values of national unity, patriotism, humanism so that they could work to bring to fruition a vision of a society of equals.
Minister of Higher Education Nkandu Luo, who lauded the bestowing of the inaugural laureate on Dr Kaunda, said the former President deserves the honour because he has an impeccable record of service to mankind.
“He is given this honour of Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Political Science because he has achieved,” Professor Luo said. “Even here, where we are, it’s part of his achievement.”