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Kenneth Kaunda (1924-2021): End of a glorious era

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THE world received with utter shock and sadness on Thursday, June 17, 2021, news of the sudden demise of the foremost liberation crusader, Pan Africanist and the founding father of modern Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, popularly called KK at the ripe age of 97.  Dr. Kaunda died in a military hospital in Lusaka, the nation’s capital after suffering from acute pneumonia.

  The late Kenneth Kaunda, a son of a Malawian immigrant began his political career as a freedom fighter in the then British Colonial territory of the defunct Northern Rhodesia along with his fellow nationalists and freedom fighters across the border in the neighbouring Southern Rhodesia. The defunct British contrived, unwieldy and unworkable Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland made up of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (now Malawi) was then ruled by Sir Roy Wellensky, under the erstwhile British occupation.

  As the liberation struggles were then raging in Southern Rhodesia and championed by the nationalist leaders and freedom fighters, led by the legendary late Joshua Nkomo, along with his comrades in arms namely:- Bishop Abel Muzerewa, Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole and Robert Mugabe, all of blessed memory, the Northern Rhodesian liberation struggles led by the indomitable Kenneth Kaunda was equally raging and gaining momentum and which later culminated in the granting of independence by  the erstwhile British Colonial powers in 1964 to the former Northern Rhodesia now Zambia under the leadership of the charismatic Kenneth Kaunda as her founding father and the first president of the country.

  The independence of Zambia obviously galvanised and increased the tempo in the armed struggles in both Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which later forced the British to quickly review her colonial policy in Southern Africa and also granted independence to Nyasaland, now Malawi, in 1964, under the leadership of the renowned medical expert, the late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda memory as the first President of independent Malawi. Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, was the last of the British contrived defunct Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland to gain her independence from Britain in 1980, after a prolong and bitter arms struggles led by the unrepentant and revolutionary icon, Robert Mugabe as her founding father and the first President of Independent Zimbabwe.

  It would be recalled that the erstwhile leader and Prime Minister of the racist white minority regime in Southern Rhodesia, Ian Smith had boasted that the nationalists would never achieve majority rule in the then Southern Rhodesia in the next 1000 years and certainly not in his life time. Consequently, Ian Smith and his white minority regime had deployed all available weaponry or arsenal at his disposal to intimidate and suppress the fearless and determined freedom fighters with the sole aim of frustrating the achievement of black majority rule in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. Ian Smith later failed woefully in his bid to stop the inevitable liberation and freedom of the people of Zimbabwe which ultimately had taken place in his life time.

  The late former Zambian President, Kenneth Kaunda will certainly be remembered for his vision for the liberation and emancipation of the African Continent and had contributed immensely towards the liberation of the countries that were still under the yoke of colonialism and subjugation and he also continued to play pivotal and exemplary role in the eradication of HIV/AIDS pandemic in the continent even after leaving office as President of Zambia. Late Dr. Kaunda was reputed for his uncommon courage and pragmatism and was fond of waving a white handkerchief as a symbol of peace and love for humanity.

  It would be recalled also that the doyen of African liberation and nationalism, Dr. Kaunda clearly demonstrated his sense of pragmatism as he was one of the few African leaders that accorded diplomatic recognition to the defunct Republic of Biafra during the Nigerian Civil war (1967-70), even as he then followed in the footsteps of the legendary late President Julius Nwalimu Nyerere of Tanzania and late President Felix Hauphouet-Boigny of Ivory Coast or Cóte-d’Ivoire among others in according diplomatic recognition to the defunct Republic of Biafra.

  The late Dr. Kaunda’s political influence was not limited to the freedom and independence of the former British colony of the defunct Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, but vibrated and stretched beyond the frontiers of his own country down to Southern African Nations of South Africa and Namibia that were still under the yoke of colonialism and repression by the erstwhile racist white minority regimes with obnoxious apartheid laws and policies aimed at enslaving and subjugating black African majority inhabitants. late Dr. Kaunda therefore, contributed in no small measures towards the eventual liberation and freedom of the black African majority inhabitant in South Africa as well as in Namibia, formally known as South West Africa and which are today enjoying total freedom and independence.

  The departed foremost nationalist and humanist, Kaunda, was the last in the generation of true African patriots that sacrificed their entire lifetime in the struggles for the freedom, human dignity and emancipation of their people from the shackles of colonialism and imperialism. The present generation of African leaders and indeed, the entire black race across the globe should emulate the shining example of all the departed African nationalists and freedom fighters and make the African continent a better place where peace, love, justice, unity and progress should always be the watchword in all their policies and actions.

  In the meantime, the Zambian government had already declared three weeks of national mourning for the departed nationalist and political icon, Late Dr. Kaunda Kenneth (KK). The African leaders are hereby enjoined to follow in the footsteps of the Zambian government and equally declare a period of national mourning in solidarity with the people of Zambia in honour of the departed great Pan African nationalist and liberator.

  Special tributes were already pouring in from world leaders across the continents in honour of this great African patriot.

  May Almighty God grant his soul eternal rest in heaven Amen!!!

 Akabogu is a regular public affairs commentator and analyst. He writes from Enugwu-Ukwu, Anambra State.

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