Cape Town - Kenneth Kaunda contributed immensely to South Africa’s transition to democracy in 1994 and the liberation of the African continent from colonialism, Thabo Mbeki said during the inaugural Kenneth Kaunda Lecture.
The Centre for Policy Dialogue and the Kenneth Kaunda Foundation arranged the special address.
In the inaugural Kenneth Kaunda Lecture on Thursday, the former South African president paid homage to the giant that is Kenneth Kaunda, one year of after his passing.
“I say this because, as has been said, I had the great privilege of spending almost two decades in this great African city and country, constantly exposed to President Kaunda’s leadership. I am, therefore, acutely aware of the reality that I will be speaking today of an outstanding African patriot who was, to the end of his life, my own leader.“
In his speech, Mbeki referred to the series of Pan African Congresses, which started in 1900, bringing together Africans on the Continent and the African Diaspora.
He recalled the famous words which came from that 1900 first Pan African Congress held in London, England.
In a message entitled “To the Nations of the World”, that Conference said: “In the metropolis of the modern world, in this the closing year of the nineteenth century, there has been assembled a congress of men and women of African blood, to deliberate solemnly upon the present situation and outlook of the darker races of mankind.
Mbeki said that the problem of the twentieth century was the problem of the colour line, the question as to how far differences of race - which show themselves chiefly in the colour of the skin and the texture of the hair - will hereafter be made the basis of denying to over half the world the right of sharing to utmost ability the opportunities and privileges of modern civilisation.
Mbeki said that the message also said, among other things that, “let not the natives of Africa be sacrificed to the greed of gold, their liberties taken away, their family life debauched, their just aspirations repressed, and avenues of advancement and culture taken from them.”
“Let not the cloak of Christian missionary enterprise be allowed in the future, as so often in the past, to hide the ruthless economic exploitation and political downfall of less developed nations, whose chief fault has been reliance on the plighted faith of the Christian church.”
The former statesman said that he has been talking about words spoken by Africans in 1900, which provided the firm basis on which Kenneth Kaunda and his peers stood as they engaged in political struggle 50 years later in the 1950s.
Mbeki said that Kenneth Kaunda played a leading role in the historic organisations of the Zambian struggle for liberation from colonial rule – the Northern Rhodesia African National Congress, the Zambian African National Congress and the United National Independence Party, UNIP – and led the cha-cha-cha civil disobedience campaign.
“It is an established historical fact that the struggle for the total liberation of Africa from colonialism and apartheid was hardest in our region of Southern Africa and, of course, in Algeria and Kenya as well.
Mbeki said that the reason for this is easy to identify. It is simply settler colonialism.
“As all of us know, there was a large French settler population in Algeria, which then left Algeria as the French government conceded to the demand of the Algerian people, led by the FLN, for independence.
Zambia held a national ceremony recently to mark the first anniversary of the death of the country's founding leader Kenneth Kaunda.
Hakainde Hichilema, the Zambian president, attended the ceremony held at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, along with other top government officials.
Hichilema lauded the accomplishments of the late leader, whom he described as a great teacher not only to Zambia but also to Africa and the rest of the world.