Immediate past president Rupiah Banda was last evening (Saturday Dec 15, 2012) honoured with the Honorary Prize for African Democracy as Kenyan Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka called on African leaders to emulate the former Zambian leader’s commitment to respecting the will of the people.
At the 2012 Lifetime Africa Achievement Prize-giving ceremony held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi, footage of President Banda’s political life was run on two large screens and, as he was shown conceding defeat in the September 2011 presidential elections and urging all Zambians to support ‘our new president’, he received an appreciative applause from the audience.
The former Zambian head of State was among several personalities who were honoured for their contribution to the wellbeing of Africans. This is the second honour he has received this year after the Crans Montana Prix de la Fondation award he got in Switzerland.
“As Africans, we are proud of you President Banda. You were commander-in-chief in your country and you could have easily disputed the results of the elections. I wish many African leaders could listen to you and realise that even after losing elections, you can be great,” said Vice-President Musyoka to an adoring audience.
More praise was heaped on President Banda by former United Nations under Secretary-General Abdoulie Janneh who described the retired Zambian politician as a political model in Africa and urged other leaders on the continent to learn to accept the will of the people.
Mr Janneh, who is also executive director at the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said it was time African leaders began providing leadership that inspired their people, stressing that leadership was the continent’s major malaise.
And speaking at the same event organised by the Millennium Excellence Foundation, former President Banda urged African leaders to do nothing that would endanger the lives of their people.
“After accepting defeat, some of my compatriots called me a coward. How could I not accept the results of the elections organised by me as head of State? I was responsible for whatever could happen to the Zambian people.
“I call upon my fellow Africans to know that there can only be one winner in an election and the rest run the risk of losing. Even after losing elections, you must learn to love one another and live your life as if you were the winner,” President Banda said.
Other laureates at the ceremony were MultiChoice South Africa Group Holdings executive chairman Nolo Letele, Chief Godswill Akpabio, the governor of Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria and Governor Moise Katumbi-Chapwe from Katanga Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo while the late Ghanaian President John Evans Atta Mills was represented by his widow Dr Ernestina Naadu Mills.
Honoured in absentia were Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, Ugandan head of State Yoweri Museveni, Sudanese-born British mobile communications entrepreneur and billionaire Mo Ibrahim, former International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Mohamed ElBaradel and Nigerian business magnate Aliko Dangote.
The awards recognise individuals who have selflessly devoted themselves to bringing about change in the lives of Africans within the last decade.
Meanwhile, former president Banda has called on Africans to embrace home-grown initiatives that are aimed at empowering fellow Africans.
He was speaking at the Sovereign Suites in Limuru, about 20 kilometres outside Nairobi at a reception on Friday evening.
He noted that nearly all major international organisations had had their genesis outside Africa, the very reason why Africans needed to support the initiative of the Millennium Excellence Foundation, the organisers of Africa’s most prestigious international awards.
Past recipients of the awards include South Africa’s Desmond Tutu and Cyril Ramaphosa, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, former World Bank president James Wolfensohn and celebrated Nigerian writer Soyinka.
The former president is expected to return to Lusaka Sunday morning.