Zambia’s first Republican President Dr Kenneth Kaunda turns 91 years old on April 28, a week after Zimbabwe celebrated its 35th birthday. Dr Kaunda played a major role in Zimbabwe’s Independence from British colonial rule as he hosted liberation movements immediately after Zambia attained its own freedom in 1964. Our senior journalist Emilia Zindi travelled to Zambia and spoke to Dr Kaunda about his experience in the struggle for Zimbabwe. The Sunday Mail publish Dr Kaunda in his own words.
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Dr Kenneth Kaunda
The good Lord teaches us: “Love God your Creator with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength.
“Love your neighbour as you love yourself; do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Our support for Zimbabwe was based on the full realisation of what God teaches us. We had the duty to do so. We supported Zimbabwe, Angola, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and others because the Lord God Almighty teaches us to do so.
How could we avoid the bombings that the boers, Portuguese, Rhodesians unleashed against us? Yes, our bridges were destroyed.
It is a price we had to pay. We did that and thank God, all our colleagues succeeded.
Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Angola are free, and so is South Africa. We got to do that in keeping with God’s commandments.
If we had not followed these commandments, we would not have succeeded to support, as we did, our brothers and sisters.
I want to thank God that Zimbabwe under Robert Gabriel Mugabe has reached that stage where they have been working hard. They are reaching that stage where economic development can be realised.
I say to Zimbabweans; please continue to work with that great son of Africa; work together to build Zimbabwe.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe and his colleagues know exactly what is required in terms of the needs of the people of Zimbabwe in situations where land was grabbed by our brothers and sisters from Europe.
They have a duty to help and bring answers to problems, which were caused by our friends who came from Europe to grab our land.
We must give them a chance to address these problems in the right way.
Liberation movements today
Our liberation movements? I led one of them; we have succeeded. We have independence across the continent and what else can make people look at us with doubt?
They should say, “(Liberation movements) save us.”
What are (some people) crying about (regarding the threat of new political parties against former liberation movements)?
What upcoming, new political
I do not know, but what else? How do you see both young girls and women in Zimbabwe?
One, two, three, four are all young people. What do you think about them? These are kids. I am 90 and will be turning 91 (this week) and Robert Mugabe is 91, and he is my boss.
What do you think about these youngsters?
Are they the ones causing trouble? I cannot see the death of the liberation movements in our age at all.
It is these organisations, which stood strong; whether it is in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Angola, Mozambique or Namibia.
Yes, there are some areas we had problems like in the Congo. Even though they had problems, they seem to be coming out. I think freedom movements have a history of importance and I cannot see them just melting; no, no.
As I said, I am 90 now and still strong. Do not think that because I am bending when walking I am not strong; I am very strong. If you want to fight me, I will fight you! (laughs)
(Young leaders) are most welcome, and I hope they will bear that teaching in mind: “Love God your Creator with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength. Love your neighbour as you love yourself and do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.”
Where these commandments are followed there is a real chance of success. As I mentioned earlier, we would not have succeeded if we had not followed these commandments. And here at home, I should add 73 different tribes. It is clear that if we had not come up with the right approach, we would have faced the problem of tribe fighting tribe. At the podium (at Independence), I shouted, “One Zambia”, and the people responded, “One nation”.
It is one Zambia, one nation.
Relations with President Mugabe, Dr Nkomo
The different problems the continent faces can only be tackled by our leaders, again following the commandments I have referred to.
We need to deal with what we have in each country. There is the question of land, of course, and it is a question of what we have on that land.
Is it mining, agriculture? What are we doing to develop all these, which God has given us? I think we have a chance to succeed and can succeed as we stand together, work together as God’s creation.
I have no doubt at all that we have a chance to build this continent; we can do it.
President Mugabe, Dr Joshua Nkomo and I stood together for a long time. They were here together. Still, there were two different ambitions – one led by Joshua Nkomo and the other led by Robert Mugabe. In the end, they all came together and that was very important.
They stood together; fought together and in the end succeeded. We are proud of that.
I did the same in South Africa, meeting Oliver Tambo, Mandela (and others). They were all great men and women who stood together, fought together.
I remember when Oliver Tambo and Mandela came to see me; the two of them. We met in Ethiopia, and I said there (should be) sharing of leadership in this way: Oliver Tambo must go out and fight from outside, telling the rest of world; Mandela stays there and solves the problems within South Africa.
They said they both needed my assistance.
I told them that I was seeing them as good, effective young men who must be supported. I told them to go ahead. Let Oliver Tambo go out and meet the rest of the world; tell them about happenings in South Africa, about the boers.
Mandela stayed behind there; faced imprisonment, this and that there.
In the end, we succeeded.
Yes, we stood ready. I promised we would support them, and (you know what happened) I was meeting with the boers. I went to meet Voster on the Zambezi Bridge.
I met him for three days over the Zambezi Bridge and I said: “Release Mandela and his colleagues, and come for talks.”
I was there for three nights. I did not succeed and he left.
I met Botha again for hours on the border with South Africa. I said: “Please, release Mandela and his colleagues and start talking.” I do not think I succeeded.
Then came de Klerk.
He was the secretary-general of a boer political party. He flew to Lusaka and I delivered the same message: “Please, release Mandela and find a way of talking to each other.”
After that meeting with de Klerk, I went to address a Press conference and said, “I think I can do business with this man.”
I was right. I did the same with Zimbabwe. In the end, we succeeded. So, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Angola, Mozambique and Namibia are free.