Former Commonwealth SG pays tribute to KaundaThursday, June 17, 2021
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Former Commonwealth secretary general, Sir Shridath Ramphal, Thursday paid tribute to Kenneth Kaunda, the former president of Zambia, and one of the last of the generation of African leaders who fought colonialism.
Kaunda, 97, died Thursday at a military hospital in the capital, Lusaka, after he had been taken there on Monday suffering from pneumonia. His aides said he did not have the coronavirus (COVID-19).
In a statement, Sir Shridath, who served as Commonwealth secretary general from 1975-1990, said that he has a memory of sitting by President Kaunda's side in his small study in State House, Lusaka on August 4, 1979.
“It was Saturday… the weekend break day in the Commonwealth Summit in Zambia; and all save a few Heads of Government had gone off to Livingstone to visit the magnificent Victoria Falls. The few who remained for that meeting were precious.
“They included President Nyerere and Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, Malcolm Fraser and Michael Manley. The President's study 'retreat' had of course been carefully orchestrated. 'KK' was superb; and so was everyone else.
“At the end of the day, we had an Accord that led to the Lancaster House Conference and Zimbabwe's Independence — which in turn led to Mandela's freedom, the end of apartheid and the Independence of South Africa. Kenneth Kaunda is of blessed memory,” Sir Shridath wrote in a brief statement.
In the 1950s, Kaunda was a key figure in what was then Northern Rhodesia's independence movement from Britain. He became president following independence in 1964.
As head of the left-leaning United National Independence Party (UNIP), Kaunda then led the country through decades of one-party rule. He stepped down after losing multi-party elections in 1991.
Sir Shridath said that throughout all those years, “Kaunda was President of Zambia — one of the Frontline States in ending white rule in Southern Rhodesia and the creation of Zimbabwe under adult suffrage for the African people who had been marginalised and oppressed in their own country.”
The Zambia government has declared three weeks of national mourning with all forms of entertainment suspended.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation said Kaunda's contribution to the struggle against colonialism and apartheid would not be forgotten.
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