Kenneth Kaunda, first President of the Republic of Zambia was 95 yesterday. Let Africa celebrate the last surviving of the titans of his era. Kaunda trained as a Lawyer and together with freedom fighters like Harry Nkumbula, Nsonge Mbikusitha and others, secured Independence for Zambia (formerly northern Rhodesia) in 1964.
He authored ZAMBIA SHALL BE FREE among other works, where he drew attention to human and natural endowments that abound in Africa and the imperatives of translating them for the benefits of African people through emancipation from foreign domination.
Dr Kaunda’s contemporaries in the liberation struggle in Southern Africa included Madiba Nelson Mandela, Bishop Desmond Tutu (South Africa), Robert Mugabe (Southern Rhodesia later Zimbabwe), Nwalimu Julius Nyerere (Tangayika later Tanzania), Joshua Nkomo and others.
On the larger African continent were pan African freedom champions like the Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkruma (Gold Coast later Ghana), Awwal Sadat (Egypt), Dr. Hubbert Macaulay, Dr.Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhambra Ahmadu Belo (Nigeria), Leophold Sedar Senghor (Senegal) and others.
Dr. Kaunda survived all these great African leaders most of whom became presidents of their respective countries post independence. Including himself. They were thoroughly educated in the best universities in Europe and America. They were highly disciplined, morally strong and circumspect. They were visionaries who provided leadership templates for their states.
As pan Africanists, they thought and canvassed for a UNITED STATES OF AFRICA with a common frontier, an African High Command and a common currency. The idea was thoroughly considered in Cassablanca and Monrovia.
Unfortunately they couldn’t articulate the dissents of both blocs. They
however succeeded in emplacing the Organisation for African Unity which took off in Addis Ababa in 1963 to advance political,economic and social developments for Africa. One remembers with nostalgia how engaging and attimes stormy OAU Summits were in those days. It is now called African Union.
President Kenneth Kaunda is a living legend. He is a patriot, nationalist and pan Africanist. Regal yet modest. Audacious but simple. He did very well for Zambians. Development of infrastructure and provision of basic amenities like water and power is above average in Zambia. Lusaka has remained a beautiful city maintaining the British right hand drive. Dr. Kaunda lives in his village South of Lusaka in a modest bungalow.
I submit that God has kept President Kaunda for this long to remind Africa of the beauty of its past- nationalism, pan Africanism, the various constitutional conferences which almost produced constitutional democracies in African states,decolonisation and ultimately participatory government. Kwame Nkrumah admonished Africans: ‘Seek ye first political independence and all the rest shall be added unto you’.
Then came the menace of militocracy. The military struck in Egypt in 1956 and torpedoed president Awwal Saddat. A few years later, the Generals displaced Dr.Nkrumah in Ghana. On January 15,1966 the first republic was sacked in Nigeria by the five majors. The hyacinth spread across Africa coasts and inland water ways.
The military ousted and in some cases assassinated the heroes. They were to later face themselves in counter coups. Military in African politics became a major distraction to the charted course of our heroes past. And this is where we are.
Today, pan Africanism seems to have given way to regionalism and
regionalism to territorialism. Everyone to himself, God for us all. The challenges of corruption, insecurity,endemic poverty, hunger,disease and want. Those of strifes, religious intolerance, xenophobia,lately terrorism and the likes have obfuscated the sense of brotherhood in Africa. Military impostors couldn’t resolve most of these problems before they escalated themselves out of office.
Unfortunately they cloned successors and in some cases brazenly came backon the political scene wearing civilian dresses.
In Sudan,the military has come back undisguisedly in 2019. Military coup in the 21st century! Where does Africa proceed from here?
Hope cannot be lost on Africa. President Kenneth Kaunda and our heroes past did very well in templating for Africa ramifications for leadership and good governance. No matter the depth and intensity of our locally made distractions, Zambia and indeed Africa shall be free.
Dr Faseluka is the immediate past Head of Service in Ekiti State.