Harare – As tributes began to pour in yesterday following the death of Zambia’s Founding Father, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Southern Africa bade farewell to the last of the men who founded the Frontline States.
Dr Kaunda, fondly known as KK, breathed his last in Lusaka yesterday afternoon.
KK’s son, Kambarage, posted on his late father’s Facebook page: “I am sad to inform we have lost Mzee.”
Famed for his fight against colonialism, renowned for his decades-long sacrifice for a free Africa, and loved for his humanism, KK led Zambia from October 24, 1964 to November 8, 1991.
At his country’s Independence, whose attainment he steered through, KK declared “One Zambia, One Nation” as he sought to unite a country trying to put together the pieces of a fragmented and fractured society.
His “Zambian humanism” advocated for unity and togetherness, and it very quickly found a following across an African continent longing for freedom, peace and prosperity.
It was natural that he was a fierce critic of apartheid, which itself was a manifestation of one of the worst forms of oppression that Southern Africa and indeed the whole world has ever known.
That steadfast opposition to apartheid went hand-in-glove with his support for the dismantling of Rhodesia and the emergence of an emancipated Southern Africa.
Many nationalist movements found a ready home in KK’s Zambia: from South Africa to Zimbabwe to Angola, both freedom fighter and refugee had succour there.
In 1975, when Angola and Mozambique were liberated from Portuguese oppression, the Frontline States was formed to spearhead Southern Africa’s total liberation, with a committee which was chaired by iconic Tanzanian leader Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
The Frontline States of Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola and Botswana were also part of the OAU, the UN and the Non-Aligned Movement.
Professor Ngwazi Bhebhe noted, “The Frontline States (FLS), an alliance of the Independent countries of Southern Africa that was established in 1975 under the auspices of the three Pan-Africanist leaders of Zambia, Tanzania and Botswana, played a pivotal role in dismantling white colonial rule and apartheid in the sub-region.
“They provided invaluable material, logistical, diplomatic and political support to nationalist movements fighting for the independence of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), South West Africa (Namibia), and the Republic of South Africa. These three countries were the last bastions of exclusionary white minority rule in our sub-region.
“Most importantly, the Frontline States offered sanctuary to the liberation fighters from the aforementioned countries that were operating in exile for obvious security reasons.
“Thus Zimbabwe’s liberation fighters aligned to the Zimbabwe National Liberation Army (Zanla) and the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) infiltrated the country from the hospitable environs of either Mozambique, Zambia or Tanzania. The same applies to the African National Congress (ANC) whose cadres largely used Angola, Mozambique and Zambia as safe havens for organising their insurgent excursions into apartheid South Africa.
“Perhaps the Frontline States’ seminal diplomatic success was the way they out-manoeuvred South Africa in the resolution of the Zimbabwean/Rhodesian Crisis in the late 1970s.”
As the world mourns KK’s death, it also celebrates his immense contributions to Southern Africa’s liberation and his colossal contributions to humanism.