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Zambia: African Union Leaves Liberation Hero Out of Honors’ List

When Zambia’s foreign minister Given Lubinda went to Ethiopia to attend the 19th African Union summit slated for July 9—16, he was shocked to discover that the country’s first president, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, was not among the continent’s prominent personalities who have been honoured at the new AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.

First South African president Nelson Mandela, late Congo DR Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, former Egyptian President late Abdel Nasser and late Emperor Haile Selaise of Ethiopia have been honoured with portraits while Ghana’s first President late Kwame Nkrumah even has his statue mounted in front of the multi-million dollar Chinese built AU headquarters.

Kwame Nkrumah's statue outside the new African Union complex in Addis Ababa

Kwame Nkrumah's statue outside the new African Union complex in Addis Ababa. Picture courtesy of Zambian Watchdog.

Lubinda who contested the omission, said Dr Kaunda, fondly called KK, Zambia’s president from independence in 1964 to 1991 when he was voted out, was an African statesman who deserved honours from the Pan African organisation for the critical role he played in the struggle and liberation of the African continent.

Zambian netizens reacted to the omission with mixed feelings even though most of them felt that their former president has not been treated fairly by the continental body.

Reacting to the Zambian Watchdog story, kolwe ni kolwe wrote:

I think Given Lubinda is right here.

As far as am concerned Mandela and Lumumba are far behind Super Ken where the African scene is concerned.

Yes they may have sacrificed a lot for their countries liberation but they can not match super Ken outside that or what he did for other Africa countries to be liberated.

Super Ken championed the liberation struggle for almost the entire Southern Africa almost single handedly.

It is difficult to under what criteria was used.

Praising the foreign minister, M. Ngenda wrote:

Well done Given. I really wonder what attributes Patrice Lumumba of Congo or Nasser of Egypt have over KK. Kaunda liberated the whole of Southern Africa and Zambians suffered the consequences but the rest of those honouredonly for their individual countries. Kaunda even participated in the release of Mandela from Prison.
Things will only change at AU only when we have someone from Anglophone countries at the helm of the Organisation.

This was indeed a stupid decesion.

Wrote ED DAVID:

… WHEN WE CONSIDER THE LABERATION STRUGGLE OF SOUTHERN AFRICA, ZAMBIA UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF KK PLAYED A VERY VITAL N PIVOTAL POSITION. ZAMBIA FOUGHT FOR SOUTH AFRICA, NAMIBIA, ZIMBABWE.ZAMBIA ALSO HELPED ANGOLA, MOZAMBIQUE JUST TO MENTION BUT A FEW.LIKE JESUS, A PROPHET IS NOT WELCOME IN HIS OWN HOME; MOST OF US HAVE NO COURAGE TO APPRICIATE OTHERS UNLESS THEY DEPART FROM US, MAY GOD DELIVER US OR WE ARE TOO YOUNG TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED DURING LIBERATION TIMES. WHAT KENETH DAVID KAUNDA DID CAN NEVER BE TAKEN AWAY FROM HIM, WHETHER AU DOCUMENT IT OR NOT, NO WONDER GOD HAS GRACED HIM WITH A LONG LIFE…

However, others like chitapi-ngwe-meno-mutu did not have kind words for the 88 year-old erstwhile Zambian leader:

Kaunda is not honourable, may be to Zambians he is nut judging by international criteria, Kaunda is NOT honourable. Lubinda is just making an idiot of himself. Nobody fights for honours, great people are recognised. Kaunda despised some tribes in Zambia and he did so openly, if you knew how to look. Even the Barotse Agreement was signed as a strategy to kill the powers of the Litunga. After signing the Agreement he went to on to ignore it.

[...] Kaunda’s involvement with South Africa and Zimbabwe freedom struggles were not out of wanting to LIBERATE other African countries, it was out of economic expediency. With hostile regimes in Zimbabwe and South Africa we had only one opening to the sea via Dar-es-Salaam, which is much further off than the southern ports. There is no sensible political scientist who will call Kaunda the hero that some of you want to make him. You can call him a international hero because that is the highest standard you have in the country, I mean who else can you call a hero in Zambia, Sata? RB? Chiluba? Let us accept it: according to our local standards Kaunda was good, but even this argument not every Zambia will agree with it.

Writing on Facebook, Paul Monde Shalala, branded the AU a fake body:

ABASH AU, VIVA KK:
But this Africa Union is fake, how can they omit Julius Nyerere & Kenneth Kaunda from the category of liberation heroes but put Nelson Mandela on the list? Who kept Mandela in exile? Where was ANC based when it was banned under apartheid? Mandela spent time in Kaunda's safe custody where ANC was being run from! That's why AU is a total failure! Did you see how AU failed us in Ivory Coast? It had to take the French to remove the illegitimate Laurent Gbagbo from power! Did you see what AU did in Libya? It had to take NATO to invade an African country to restore order and the AU was ndwiiiiiiiii quiet! This organisation is fake, look how it has neglected the people of Madagascar, Somalia and Congo DR where people are suffering! I repeat, Africa Union is fake, abash AU!

Zambia under Kenneth Kaunda played a significant role in hosting liberation movements in Southern Africa such as Namibia's SWAPO, South Africa's ANC and PAC and Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF. A Liberation Centre was set up in Lusaka to provide offices to these liberation movements.

  • Robert Mann

    The AU is scandalous. even SA admits that without KK there is no Mandela

  • http://twitter.com/benmaliti Ben Maliti

    From hero (1964) to zero (1991). Is there any place in this world where a dictator has been honored? Old age does not make any dictator an angel. To sum it up, he has not even been honored in his own country, then why should the AU honor him. For what purpose?

  • http://www.facebook.com/munshya.munshya Munshya Wa Munshya Elias

    Kenneth Kaunda may be a man of great weakness. And his dictatorship was ruthless. But nevertheless he still stands tall among liberation heroes in Africa. Besides it has been over 20 years ever since he relinquished power in a peaceful democratic manner. There is no way he should be honoured behind Lumumba or Nkrumah. KK should be given the honour he deserves at the AU.

    He worked hard for Frontline states, scarified for South Africa and Angola and Mozambique. He worked on Zambian independence. A Zambian of Malawian origin he has a Pan-African world-view. He is far much more disciplined in his personal life than some that the AU decided to honor ahead of him.

    Kenneth David Kaunda stands tall.

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