This was a giant of the liberation of Africa and to even start mentioning his political power relationships, and to discuss his relationships with other African leaders would to be ask for more dates and more sorrow
By Kenneth Chikanga
So this week I battled to understand the meaning of the date -June 17 2021 – date of death of former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda – and only a few answers are coming through.
I share a name and identity with him and many times people will ask me who I am – and when I say Kenneth – the name Kenneth Kaunda is, was, and will always be close to many conversations that I have with you.
There are many people who I know who are called Kenneth – some of them very important people – but none of them is, was, or will ever be bigger or greater than this Kenneth – Kenneth Kaunda.
Since yesterday I watched TV and followed as the news of his death was confirmed and I reached out through my history books and checked for some dates.
Kenneth was a living legend and the years of his life were and will always be milestones in conversations of Zambia and the nations around Zambia.
Date April 28 -1924 – he is born at the Lubwa Mission – then Northern Rhodesia. The youngest of eight children of a Presbyterian minister.
Year 1951 he was working for the Northern Rhodesia African National Congress, 1953 elected secretary-general of the party, and 1958 he founded the breakaway UNIP for which he was imprisoned but later led to winning the elections and independence – October 24 1964.
The British granted Independence and Kenneth installed a state-dominated economy and single-party rule in Zambia.
In 1991, following years of pressure to open up the democratic political space of Zambia, Kenneth was deposed from power after introducing multi-party elections and lost to Frederick Chiluba from the MMD.
In 1997 he was jailed in connection with an alleged coup plot against Chiluba, but it was later found to be untrue.
And in 1999 following a ruling on an MMD petition, a judge stripped Kenneth of his Zambian citizenship because his parents originally came from Malawi. The case was withdrawn the following year and he regained his Zambian citizenship.
In the year 2000, and aged 75, Kenneth handed over the UNIP leadership and in 2002 he started a two-year fellowship as African president-in-residence at Boston University in the United States.
So Kenneth had been unwell since 2015 and was in and out of hospital battling illness. And since yesterday – June 17 2021 – it was confirmed that Kenneth had died at the age of 97 after admission to a military hospital in Lusaka.
This was a giant of the liberation of Africa and to even start mentioning his political power relationships with the likes of Julius Nyerere, Samora Machel, Robert Mugabe, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Sam Nujoma, the liberation movements and dynamics of the entire African continent would be to ask for more dates and more sorrow.
This is one of the few times where I can stand up and pay tribute to the name of Kenneth Kaunda and say that I not only shared a name with him, but also shared the respect that he deserves for his role in the emancipation of the black people.
The loss of (Kenneth) Kaunda is a sad loss for Zambia, for his family and all of Africa and at 97 it is a good life that he has lived – and a life worth celebrating.
So June 17 2021- and all of the 21 days of mourning – are dates that we mourn and remember the name of a man that I shared a name with, and for whom I wish that his soul rests in peace.
Kenneth Chikanga is Editor of the Digital Sunday Express. See News Differently
Kenneth Kaunda: A Life on The Frontline
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