Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, has paid tribute to former President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, for fighting against colonial rule on the continent and the world.

Addressing the Kenneth Kaunda Tribute Webinar on Monday, the Minister described the founding President of Zambia as a great leader who fought for the defence of peace, independence and security in Africa and the world.

“In international platforms, Dr Kaunda always expressed his determination to fight for the freedom of all oppressed African nations and all other nations of the world,” Mthethwa said.

Kaunda passed away on 17 June, at the age of 97. He was laid to rest on Friday.

Government through the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and its agency, the National Heritage Council (NHC) in partnership with Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) hosted the Kenneth Kaunda Tribute Webinar Hosted under the theme: “Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Dr Kenneth Kaunda”.

The webinar paid homage to Kaunda for being an outstanding African leader.

“Though Kaunda’s philosophy was a non-violent one, he at the same time supported those who chose armed resistance as a legitimate pillar of struggle. Under his leadership, the people of Zambia opened their country to those who were fleeing oppression and hosted leaders of Liberation Movements. This came at enormous cost, because of their difficult geographical situation,” the Minister said.

Mthethwa commended Kaunda for the role he played in South Africa’s freedom and independence.

“South Africa, like many of the then frontline States, owes her freedom and independence to this gallant statesman, a jovial man, a creative worker, a sportsman and, above all, a true and sincere African liberator. The well-regarded legacies of Zambia, which is not commonly known or spoken about is that Zambia has also been the country of residence for more future Presidents of African countries than have been produced by any other country in Africa,” the Minister said.

These include the late President Milton Obote of Uganda, the late President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, all the three Presidents of Namibia, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, President Bingo wa Mutharika of Malawi, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe.

The following second in command, of the State are the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo of Zimbabwe and Deputy President Baleka Mbete of South Africa.

“Whilst he was never President of State, it is worth mentioning the great Oliver Reginald Tambo, the ANC’s longest serving President since its formation over 100 years ago, and who oversaw it through its most difficult period, also lived in Zambia.

“Kaunda made it abundantly clear that Zambia’s support and participation in the Liberation Struggle, was not based on a desire to make social, economic and political investments.

“Rather, it was simply doing what was morally correct and therefore should not concern themselves with the question of whether or not there would be eventual rewards for the Zambian sacrifices,” the Minister said.

He said Kaunda was a dedicated Pan Africanist and a citizen of the world whose mission on planet earth was unity to humanity.

African Union Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, Amira Elfadil, said Kuanda was a pioneer leader and a dedicated Pan-Africanist committed to ending colonial rule in Africa.

“We recognise his endless dream of having Africa as a united continent with sustainable peace, security and a strong cultural identity.

“Kaunda was a strong supporter of the HIV/AIDS response and showed great leadership and courage in raising awareness and contributing to the fight against HIV/AIDS, related to stigma in the early days of the pandemic in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region and on the continent,” Elfadil said.

She credited Kaunda for being inspirational and innovative in the arts, culture, heritage and sports sector.

“In the liberation struggle there was a common song that used to be sung by freedom fighters in many countries in Southern Africa… it was let us walk together with one heart. It was written by Kaunda about the independence he hoped to achieve. This is one of the songs that was well known by the public but he composed several other songs as well.

“He also has had a love for football as he had the national team for Zambia named after him the KK11. The Zambian national football team was known for its performance in the global football arena and he was always ready to support the young players to achieve their dreams,” Elfadil said.

Source: South African Government News Agency