BY WYNEGOOD G. MALUNGA
Now that Founding Father and First President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda has been laid to rest, I have something to get off my chest and I ask that you forgive my candor.
The passing of Dr. Kaunda and the period of national mourning has been an exposé of the bunch of hypocrites in this country who have been using this sad occasion for their personal fifteen minutes of fame. It is to them that I address these words.
I do not believe at all that you had a “Come to Jesus” moment when you repented of your sins committed against President Kaunda.
When he peacefully left office, you hounded him. Most of you were in government from November 1991 and you called him names, accused him of extrajudicial killings in underground tunnels and labeled him a dictator. You went on national television and shouted from podiums at rallies that you had gotten rid of a “brutal dictatorship”.
You accused him of destroying the economy.
His enemies said Zambia was at par with Singapore at independence and we could have been like Singapore had Kaunda not wrecked the economy.
Is Singapore landlocked? Did Singapore fight a liberation war and have its infrastructure destroyed? Were the people there killed by bomb raids? Okay, after almost thirty years since he left office and after five other Presidents, why is Zambia not like Singapore? You have had no closed borders but open routes established by Kaunda to neighboring ports. You have not been involved in any support for those fighting for independence against minority rule because Kaunda fought the battle. You have not had infrastructure destroyed and citizens killed by bombing raids. So, what is your excuse or reason for not being like Singapore?
In October 1991, the media changed allegiance overnight and banished him from appearing on radio and television. The only time something was said about him was when a politician issued disparaging remarks as you did your best to destroy his legacy. You followed those who hated him with your cameras when they were exposing to the world a vital and top security feature under State House which you claimed to be torture chambers. That was treason. Today your headlines and stories have changed.
All kinds of lies and conspiracies were pedaled, they tried to assassinate him in Kabwe, declared him stateless, accused him of treason, arrested him on Christmas Day and threw him into a prison with those on death row, his son was assassinated. Yes, you did all that!
You denied him and all those he had worked with all the financial benefits due to former leaders. You accused him of stashing away billions of United States Dollars in offshore accounts and called in Scotland yard to find the money. They found nothing. He did not even have a home to go to after he left office. You harassed him and his family and never said you were sorry.
Zambian diplomats abroad after 1991 would not dare host Dr. Kaunda even welcome him if he were visiting countries they were accredited to, let alone welcome him when passing through.
If Kaunda had done all the evil you accused him off, why did you go searching for books you alleged he stole from State House instead of exhuming bodies of those he is supposed to have murdered? Why didn’t you arrest him for crimes against humanity? Why did you not charge him for abuse of office and by the way, when you were haunting him, none of you, including those in parliament even bothered about removal of immunity under which some today have taken cover for protection?
Now that KK is gone, you are running after every interview to trumpet what a great man he was, a statesman, a liberator, an African icon a great leader who developed Zambia. The media which demonized him after flipping in October 1991 now sees him as a Saint, historians, academicians and political scientists are showering him with praise on national television. Someone has even had a “Humanism Day” to clean up and help the needy. The same program that ran as “Humanism Week” which you cast into the abyss in 1991.
There is suddenly a hive of activities in the country all in the name of Kenneth Kaunda. Why was he never honored in such a manner on his 70th or even 80th birthday? Where were you from 1991 until today?
You know very well that even the slogan “One Zambia, One Nation”, our rallying call for unity, was abandoned and today you have pulled it out from the compost heap.
Some of you sitting in the front rows at his graveside have suddenly come out of your hellholes to become experts on his great style of leadership, unpresented development, humanity and love for Zambia, yet you accused him of destroying the country.
Then there are those who boast that KK was their mentor! If you are violent, corrupt and spew tribal rhetoric or claim to be as clean and white as his handkerchief, there is no way you can claim to have sat at Kaunda’s feet to learn about leadership. No way.
The history of our founders is not taught in schools. The young generation has no idea who Kenneth Kaunda really was because you wanted to erase and blot him out.
Young people in South Africa can speak knowledgeably about Bantu Steven Biko, Albert Lithuli, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and other liberation struggle stalwarts. Young African Americans know the history of slavery, Marcus Garvey, Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr. and other great black Americans. Not in Zambia.
I have met young people who do not know that Zambia assembled motor vehicles, television and radio sets, exported clothes including military uniforms. They have no idea of who Kenneth Kaunda was and make all kinds of derogatory statements on Facebook. When I challenge them to provide proof, they claim that is what someone told them. They have not been taught about Rhodesia’s Ian Smith and the Unilateral Declaration of Independence, the hell run, importation of fuel by air into Ndola Airport due to closed borders with Rhodesia.
They were not taught about non-selective development in every province. They do not know that Nakambala Sugar Estate, Mongu Cashew Nut Plantation, INDENI, TAZARA, TAZAMA, Livingstone Motor Assembly, Luangwa Bicycle Industries, food processing factories and many other manufacturing companies did not exist but came on stream under Kaunda’s leadership. Ndola alone had over 70 vibrant companies which went under after 1991.
World leaders are today paying glowing tribute to a man that represented Zambia with a proactive foreign policy and could stand on any stage in any capital city around the globe and articulate issues and the world would listen.
Nobody walked out of the United Nations General Assembly auditorium when Kaunda was on the podium. He was highly revered in the various capitals of the world where he was seen as a great statesman and a leader who could be consulted by nations around the world.
I am deliberately calling you out today to show you how fake you are. You never defended him, applauded him, cherished him or loved and appreciated him while he was with us. Even you men and women wearing collars identifying you as pastors and bishops, some of you remained silent when KK was being persecuted.
In our educational institutions, we have a curriculum that had nothing to do with this great man and his comrades, even now. Today, a lot of you hypocrites have become scholars and experts on Kaunda. I am sorry, you cannot fool me. This fish won’t bite.
It was not until President Levy Mwanawasa assumed office that Dr. Kaunda’s dignity and honor began to be restored. When President Michael Sata became our leader, he perhaps, more than anybody else, elevated Dr. Kaunda and recognized that our founding father was an ocean of wisdom even in the diplomatic circles.
I also applaud and thank the current President Edgar Lungu for maintaining respect and doing more to honor President Kaunda, including today’s declaration of April 28th as a national holiday in honor of our fallen First President. This and more is something that I and many others have been calling for successive governments to do.
I have in the past written letters to two higher institutions of learning on separate occasions advancing a proposal for a Kenneth Kaunda School of Excellence. I laid out the whole plan for a Kenneth Kaunda Presidential Library on the grounds of the institutions including annual lectures by eminent scholars and politicians. I proposed scholarships for students around the region including foreign students exchange programs with institutions from around the world. This and many more, I proposed but there was silence in the house. The first time was in the year 2013.
Kenneth Kaunda was my hero and remains my hero. I loved him very much. I loved him in life and I will love him in death.
I was privileged to have him as my friend and father. His children became my brothers and sisters. I spent hours with him, especially in the last seven years, laughed, prayed, watched football, ate, spoke on the phone, talked and reminisced on the past and me reminding him of the true unprecedented development under his leadership, the respect Zambia commanded in the world, He would look at me, smile, and say, “You never cease to amaze me every time you come to see me.”
One day, I was telling him how Zambia could have a vibrant tourism sector and explained my plan. He called his grandson and asked him who the tourism minister was because he wanted to make an appointment for me. I told him, “Sir, I have done that before. I wrote a letter and they never even bothered to acknowledge it. I could sell my plan to another country and would make a ton of money.”
A dear friend, Wonder Guchu, who is a Zimbabwean journalist and author based in Namibia paid tribute to President Kaunda many years ago ending his awesome article with these words: “With time, we won’t hear his signature tune: Tiyende Pamodzi ndi Mutima Umo!” He was right. What song will some of you be remembered with?