Lusaka – The July 2 state funeral ceremony in Lusaka for Zambia’s Founding President, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, provided an opportunity for the world to not only bid farewell to the liberation icon, but also to reignite the spirit of humanity that he championed for decades.
Leader after leader eulogised Dr Kaunda, with many of them highlighting his contributions to freedom and unity.
Dr Kaunda died on June 17 at age 97 and will be interred at a private ceremony in Lusaka on July 7.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, said of Dr Kaunda: “Today, we are marking what is truly the end of an era on our continent – the passing of President Kenneth Kaunda – the last of the great freedom fighters, philosopher kings, and independence leaders of Africa – has departed.”
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, who Chairs the Southern African Development Community, described Dr Kaunda as the “ambassador of the oppressed”.
President Mogkweetsi Masisi of Botswana – Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation – said Dr Kaunda gave all of himself for the betterment of everyone in Southern Africa, Africa and the world.
Namibian President Hage Geingob said of the late hero: “You have left deep Pan-Africanist footprints. Africa is proud of you.”
President Geingob also said, “I was a young freedom fighter, but President Kaunda welcomed me.”
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the liberation hero would forever be remembered as a courageous leader who supported South Africa’s struggle for freedom and Democracy.
“Dr Kenneth Kaunda was a loyal friend to the people of South Africa. He stood by us during our long and bitter struggle against the oppressive apartheid government. Zambia provided us with the material and moral support and gave refuge to our leaders and those who had been forced into exile. All over Africa, the late president Kaunda was a torchbearer for freedom,” he said.
Zimbabwean leader President Emerson Mnangagwa pointed out that Dr Kaunda was the last founding member of the African Union.
“He was a Pan-Africanist icon who believed that Zambia was not independent until all countries on the African continent had become free and independent,” President Mnangagwa said. “The history of Zimbabwe will never be complete without contributions made by the late President Kaunda and the great people of Zambia for our independence in Zimbabwe.”
Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo hailed Dr Kaunda as the last of the giants of Pan-Africanism.
Dr Kaunda was the last surviving leader of the Frontline States, a group of Southern African countries that included Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Tanzania whose objective was the total liberation of the region.