The man who fought for Zam­bian state­hood

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS -

in 1965 to re­turn by the new coun­try’s pres­i­dent, Ken­neth Kaunda.

By now a qual­i­fied en­gi­neer run­ning a suc­cess­ful con­sul­tancy in Eng­land, Mr Zukas said he moved back to of­fer his pro­fes­sional ex­per­tise in ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture projects.

A ca­reer in pol­i­tics also fol­lowed: his ef­forts to per­suade Mr Kaunda and his United Na­tional In­de­pen­dence Party to aban­don a one-party state failed and, in 1990, he joined the drive to­wards multi-party pol­i­tics, play­ing a lead­ing role in its sub­se­quent re­turn.

Now 93, Mr Zukas was most re­cently leader of the Fo­rum for Democ­racy and Devel­op­ment, an op­po­si­tion po­lit­i­cal party. He re­tired from pol­i­tics in 2005.

His wife Cyn­thia, an anti-apartheid ac­tivist from South Africa in the 1960s, made a name for her­self in the world of art and cul­tural her­itage. Six years ago, she was awarded an MBE.

But Zam­bian in­de­pen­dence also trig­gered a change in the land laws and an ex­o­dus of white res­i­dents, in­clud­ing many from the Jewish com­mu­nity.

To­day, just 12 Jews still live in the coun­try and the last re­main­ing syn­a­gogue in the cap­i­tal, Lusaka, was sold — with the money do­nated to char­i­ties in both Zam­bia and Is­rael.

“There is,” Mr Zukas re­vealed, “a gen­eral wish to use our funds to build a small re­place­ment syn­a­gogue but we have not as yet man­aged to find a suit­able, af­ford­able plot.”

And now, the re­main­ing Jews in Zam­bia pray in their own homes.

Just 12 Jews still live in the coun­try to­day

PHOTO: GARETH BENT­LEY, EX­TRA­OR­DI­NARY ZAM­BIA

Si­mon Zukas

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