Lusaka – The world on Wednesday said its final goodbyes to Dr Kenneth David Buchizya Kaunda, Zambia’s Founding Father and an icon of Africa’s liberation struggles.
Dr Kaunda died June 17 at the age of 97, and he was interred at Embassy Park, a special cemetery for the country’s leaders in Lusaka.
President Edgar Lungu, at a service before the burial, declared April 28 – the day the man fondly called KK was born – would be a national holiday henceforth.
Present at the Wednesday service was former President of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano, who also attended last week’s state funeral ceremony that attracted leaders from across Africa. Also present was Zambia’s former President Rupiah Banda, former Interim President Guy Scott, and Mr Hakainde Hichilema, the head of the opposition United Party for National Development.
President Lungu described Zambia’s first president as a champion of love and unity who strongly believed in hard work and discipline.
He eulogised him for embracing and uniting over 70 ethnic groups with different languages, saying all people should emulate his “selfless service and patriotism”. President Lungu pledged to continue upholding Dr Kaunda’s motto of “One Zambia, One Nation”.
“We are a united people, despite our many tribes, dialects, and heritage, and nothing and nobody should divide us, and that is the way we are going to honour Dr Kaunda’s legacy,” he added.
An unseemly legal fight between the government and KK’s family over where he should be buried threatened to bring an ugly end to the 21-day national mourning period, but in the end a court decision settled matters and the parties came together for a dignified send-off.
A day before the burial, one of Dr Kaunda’s children, Kaweche, unsuccessfully asked the courts to allow the family to bury their father at their State Lodge residence next to their mother, Betty, who died in 2012.
High Court judge Justice Wilfred Muma said “public interest overrides personal interest” and that “Kaunda was not an ordinary person”, hence the state was right to take the lead in his burial.
As such, KK was interred at Embassy Park where other Zambian Heads of State – Levy Mwanawasa, Frederick Chiluba and Michael Sata – are also buried.
At the burial, Dr Kaunda’s family paid glowing tributes to the patriarch.
“Go well, you fought the good fight of faith, you have finished the race. We will miss you so much,” said daughter Mrs Musata Banda.
Leader of KK’s United National Independence Party Mr Trevor Mwamba urged Zambia to honour the nation’s Founding Father by holding peaceful elections on August 12.
Dr Kaunda’s first-born son, Panji, said: “We shall move together as ‘One Zambia, One Nation’. We have elections, let us preach peace. Stop the violence that has been witnessed.”