KAUNDA KEN­NETH ZAMBIA’S FOUND­ING FA­THER

Nomad Africa Magazine - - Kenneth Kaunda - Words: DI­ETER GÖTTERT

Can you re­mem­ber those old TV images of that flam­boy­ant politi­cian – the per­son who used to wave a white hand­ker­chief, one of the key el­e­ments and an es­sen­tial part of his at­tire at the time? Yes, it is one of Africa’s great­est politi­cians and lib­er­a­tors from colo­nial pow­ers – Mr Ken­neth David Kaunda of Zambia

born on 28 April, 1924 in Lubwa, near Chin­sali, in the then North­ern Rhode­sia and now part of Zambia, Kaunda’s fa­ther hailed from Malawi, for­merly known as Nyasa­land, and it was this legacy that would later be­come yet an­other chal­lenge to Zambia’s first pres­i­dent af­ter Bri­tain had re­lin­quished colo­nial power. Be­ing the youngest of eight chil­dren, the young Kaunda, very much like other Africans who at­tained some form of mid­dle-class status in colo­nial Zambia, went to the Mu­nali Train­ing Cen­tre in Lusaka from 1941 – 1943. Fol­low­ing in his fa­ther’s foot­steps, Kaunda taught at the Up­per Pri­mary School at Lubwa, fol­lowed by time spent, apart from be­ing a teacher, a mis­sion­ary, choir­mas­ter and even lead­ing a Pathfinder Scout Group. Af­ter 1943 and trav­el­ling from colo­nial Zambia, the young Kaunda spent fur­ther time as a teacher in Tan­ganyika – present day Tanzania. But it was upon his re­turn to Zambia in 1949 that his roots in pol­i­tics started to grow when he be­came an in­ter­preter and ad­vi­sor on African af­fairs to a lib­eral white im­mi­grant and also mem­ber of the North­ern Rhode­sian Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil, Sir Ste­wart GoreBrowne. As an as­tute and in­tel­li­gent per­son, Kaunda ac­quired a wealth of po­lit­i­cal knowl­edge on how colo­nial gov­ern­ments worked, and learn­ing vi­tal and nec­es­sary skills that would bode very well when later that year, he joined the first sig­nif­i­cant an­ti­colo­nial or­gan­i­sa­tion in North­ern Rhode­sia, the African Na­tional Congress (ANC). Bear­ing in mind that as one re­flects and writes about these great sons of Africa years later, the tri­als and tribu­la­tions of such men were never easy. There were many pit­falls and fail­ures that all great lead­ers en­coun­tered, for the path of a leader is never an easy one, and al­ways re­quires enor­mous re­spon­si­bil­ity, sheer guts and de­ter­mi­na­tion. It is said that Ken­neth Kaunda’s fate was sealed for the fu­ture to be­come one of Africa’s great politi­cians when he be­came the ANC’s Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral in the 1950s – a role that os­ten­si­bly thrust him into be­ing the chief or­gan­is­ing of­fi­cer of the move­ment and also brought him into close con­tact with rank and file mem­bers. This, in hindsight, was a key el­e­ment when he formed a new or­gan­i­sa­tion called the Zambia African Na­tional Congress. Per­haps one can ar­gue that this is where Zambia’s in­de­pen­dence move­ment re­ally started gain­ing sig­nif­i­cant mo­men­tum in terms of Kaunda fight­ing against the colo­nial pow­ers, set­ting in mo­tion a chain of events that would ul­ti­mately lead to Bri­tain inviting Ken­neth Kaunda and other lead­ers to the seat of colo­nial power in Lon­don for dis­cus­sions on the three cen­tral African colonies— South­ern Rhode­sia, North­ern Rhode­sia, and Nyasa­land. POS­I­TIVE NON-VI­O­LENT AC­TION Go­ing back and be­fore those in­evitable dis­cus­sions with the Bri­tish rulers be­came a re­al­ity, Kaunda had, as the leader of the new Zambia African Na­tional Congress, skill­fully hatched a mil­i­tant pol­icy against Bri­tain’s plan for a fed­er­a­tion of the three cen­tral African colonies, South­ern Rhode­sia, North­ern Rhode­sia, and Nyasa­land. With a real fear on the part of many African

Kaunda was the sec­ond main­land African head of state to al­low free mul­ti­party elec­tions and to have re­lin­quished power when he lost: the first, Mathieu Kérékou of Benin, had done so in March of that year.

lead­ers at the time that this fed­er­a­tion would place the power in the hands of a white mi­nor­ity, Kaunda, who had vis­ited Martin Luther King Jr. in At­lanta, USA, set into mo­tion a cam­paign, called Cha-cha-cha cam­paign ex­e­cuted through the Zam­bian African Na­tional Congress. It was called “pos­i­tive non­vi­o­lent ac­tion”, a form of civil dis­obe­di­ence that was de­signed to protest and voice the ob­jec­tion of Zam­bian peo­ple against the idea of a fed­er­a­tion on the part of the Bri­tish. The civil dis­obe­di­ence cam­paign pro­duced two very im­por­tant re­sults: the Bri­tish mod­i­fied the fed­er­a­tion pol­icy and even­tu­ally dis­carded it al­to­gether, and se­condly, it re­sulted in the im­pris­on­ment of Ken­neth Kaunda and other mil­i­tant lead­ers, but not without con­se­quences. The in­car­cer­a­tion had as a re­sult that po­lit­i­cal lead­ers were el­e­vated to a status of na­tional he­roes in the eyes of or­di­nary peo­ple. What fol­lowed is the very thing that his­tory books are made of. From 1960, the status of Zambia’s na­tional in­de­pen­dence move­ments were se­cured, and very im­por­tantly, so too was Ken­neth Kaunda’s dom­i­nant po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion con­firmed within UNIP, the United Na­tional In­de­pen­dence Party. Upon his re­lease from prison by the colo­nial gov­ern­ment on Jan­uary 8 1960, Kaunda was elected as pres­i­dent of the United Na­tional In­de­pen­dence Party (UNIP), which had been formed in 1959 by Mainza Chona. 1960 proved to be a piv­otal year in Zam­bian pol­i­tics, more so for UNIP, which en­joyed spec­tac­u­lar growth by claim­ing well over 300 000 mem­bers by mid 1960. With such a wide­spread and loyal sup­port base, the colo­nial power Bri­tain in­vited Kaunda and sev­eral other UNIP lead­ers for dis­cus­sions on the status of the three colonies to a con­fer­ence in Lon­don, with the in­evitable re­sult of Bri­tain an­nounc­ing the for­mal de­coloni­sa­tion of Zambia in 1961. Un­der the lead­er­ship of Kaunda, UNIP was a po­lit­i­cal steam train gain­ing the ma­jor­ity of seats in the new leg­isla­tive coun­cil when Zambia’s first elec­tions were held in 1962. Kaunda’s fur­ther ne­go­ti­a­tion skills came to the fore when he steered Zambia, through UNIP, to­wards fi­nal in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain in 1964 – and thus be­came Zambia’s first pres­i­dent. Post-in­de­pen­dence pol­i­tics proved to be very ex­cit­ing and chal­leng­ing. One can­not ever for­get the neg­a­tive legacy of a colo­nial power and it was up to Ken­neth Kaunda and UNIP to steer the Zam­bian ship on a path to­wards pros­per­ity – no mean feat since loom­ing tribal is­sues were a con­stant fea­ture within the African po­lit­i­cal land­scape – Zambia be­ing no ex­cep­tion.

INTERPARTY PO­LIT­I­CAL VI­O­LENCE 1968 marked a year of interparty po­lit­i­cal vi-

Away from pol­i­tics, Dr Kaunda also proved him­self to be a great hu­man­ist. Fi­nally in 1991, since be­ing pres­i­dent of Zambia from 1964 and hav­ing lost the Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, he founded the Ken­neth Kaunda Peace Foun­da­tion, ded­i­cated to the es­tab­lish­ment of peace and con­flict res­o­lu­tion on the con­ti­nent.

olence dur­ing the next elec­tions with Kaunda fi­nally im­pos­ing a one-party rule on Zambia in 1972 with a fi­nal new con­sti­tu­tion in 1973 that en­sured his party’s un­con­tested rule. This amend­ment proved to come in very use­ful when Kaunda was re-elected in a one party vote elec­tion in 1978, but Zambia had de­te­ri­o­rated un­der his party rule. The re­sult of which was the slow but pro­gres­sive im­pov­er­ish­ment of Zambia with ill-con­ceived poli­cies such as spend­ing large sums on sub­sidised food, more de­pen­dence on ex­ports of cop­per and for­eign aid, un­em­ploy­ment, de­clin­ing liv­ing stan­dards, ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial ser­vices. Hav­ing sur­vived sev­eral un­suc­cess­ful coup at­tempts in the 1980s and with huge pub­lic dis­sat­is­fac­tion mount­ing and a loom­ing cred­i­ble po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion, Kaunda le­galised po­lit­i­cal par­ties in 1990, set­ting the stage for free multi-party elec­tions with the re­sult that Kaunda and UNIP were fi­nally beaten at the polls in 1991 by the Move­ment For Mul­ti­party Democ­racy with a land­slide vic­tory with his­tory re­peat­ing it­self, this time with Fred­er­ick Chiluba at the helm. Kaunda left of­fice with the in­au­gu­ra­tion of MMD leader Fred­er­ick Chiluba as pres­i­dent on 2nd of Novem­ber 1991. He was the sec­ond main­land African head of state to al­low free multi-party elec­tions and to have re­lin­quished power when he lost. The first, Mathieu Kérékou of Benin, had done so in March of that year. As is of­ten the case with po­lit­i­cal ri­vals and the post Kaunda Zambia era be­ing no ex­cep­tion, Chiluba’s gov­ern­ment fre­quently clashed with the for­mer first pres­i­dent and with the ta­bles turned, Ken­neth Kaunda was ar­rested on De­cem­ber 25th 1997 on charges of in­cit­ing an at­tempted coup, but was re­leased six days later, placed un­der house ar­rest un­til all charges were even­tu­ally with­drawn in 1998. MALAW­IAN LINAGE Po­lit­i­cal skele­tons are of­ten found in pol­i­tics with Kaunda’s Malaw­ian lineage com­ing back to haunt him when in March 1999, a judge stripped Kaunda of his Zam­bian cit­i­zen­ship be­cause his par­ents came from Malawi. Of course, there is much more to it within the con­text of bru­tal African pol­i­tics, courtesy of the Zam­bian gov­ern­ment of the day. How­ever, not a man to take things ly­ing down, the judg­ment was chal­lenged by Kaunda and a year later, his cit­i­zen­ship was re­stored - the ups and downs of African pol­i­tics pro­duc­ing never a dull mo­ment. A GREAT HU­MAN­IST But away from pol­i­tics, Dr Kaunda also proved him­self to be a great hu­man­ist. Fi­nally in 1991, since be­ing pres­i­dent of Zambia from 1964 and hav­ing lost the Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, he founded the Ken­neth Kaunda Peace Foun­da­tion, ded­i­cated to the es­tab­lish­ment of peace and con­flict res­o­lu­tion on the con­ti­nent. Af­ter re­tir­ing, he has been in­volved in var­i­ous char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions. One of his most no­table con­tri­bu­tions has been his pas­sion in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS with his own son suc­cumb­ing to the dis­ease in 1986. In a very bold step he an­nounced his per­sonal tragedy to the world at a press con­fer­ence at State House in Lusaka. From 2002 to 2004, he was an African Pres­i­dent-in-Res­i­dence at the African Pres­i­den­tial Archives and Re­search Center at Boston Uni­ver­sity. He is the au­thor of var­i­ous books: Black Gov­ern­ment, 1961; Zambia Shall Be Free, 1962; A Hu­man­ist in Africa (with Colin Mor­ris), 1966; Hu­man­ism in Zambia and its Im­ple­men­ta­tion, 1967; Hu­man in Zambia Part II; Let­ter to My Chil­dren, 1977; Kaunda on Vi­o­lence, 1980. Ken­neth Kaunda cel­e­brated his 94th birth­day with many well wishes from around the world pour­ing in.

Kaunda was a close friend of Yu­goslav Pres­i­dent Josip Broz Tito. They were so close that Kaunda built a house in Lusaka es­pe­cially for Tito's vis­its.

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