At the 8th Ambassadorial Lecture held in Beijing on the 24th June, Her Excellency, Ambassador Winnie Natala Chibesakunda in collaboration with China-Africa Institute used the occasion to honour, Late Dr Kenneth David Kaunda, the first Zambian President and one of the last surviving African Liberation fighters.
In attendance were leaders of the China – Africa Institute including Prof. Li Xinfeng, the Executive President of China-Africa Institute, Prof. Zhou Yunfan, Vice President, two former Ambassadors of People’s Republic of China to Zambia and the son to the late patriarch, Mr. Panji Kaunda.
Ambassador Winnie Chibesakunda
in her opening remarks, thanked China-Africa Institute for organising an event in remembrance of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda’s achievements and contributions to global diplomacy especially the Sino-Africa Relations.
The late Dr. Kaunda fondly referred to as Papa KK by many Zambians was an old friend of the Chinese People, who deeply influenced China-Africa diplomacy.
“On one hand, the feeling of sorrow and anguish has befallen us and on the other hand, the feeling of celebrating Dr. Kaunda’s spectacular life comes into being as a result of his immense unforgotten achievements and contributions to the China-Zambia relations and friendship.” she said.
The present young Chinese people may not be familiar with the name ‘Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda’, but to most older Chinese, it remains a very familiar name of a man who transformed Southern Africa and profoundly influenced Chinese diplomacy and the world at large. Dr Kenneth Kaunda is a symbol of Sino-Africa friendship.
The statement; ‘All weather friends” a common phrase often taken for granted in today’s modern world and in contemporary China was made and popularized by Dr. Kaunda.
Referred to as‘Father of Zambia’, books of Zambian history cannot be complete with no mention of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, for he contributed immensely in the founding of free Zambia.
Pursuing and securing independence for the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda went ahead to seek China’s friendship and cooperation and was numbered among the first African Head of States of his time to establish diplomatic ties with China on 29th October, 1964 five days after Zambia’s independence. Dr. Kaunda first visited China in 1967 to a thunderous welcome by the Chinese people and was personally welcomed by the then Premier Zhou Enlai. Since then, friendship between the founding fathers of the two countries, Chairman Mao Zedong and Dr. Kenneth Kaunda grew from strength to strength and ushered a younger generation of pragmatic leaders.
The TAZARA Rail Project,
one of the earliest landmark projects in Africa by China, was recorded as a remarkable achievement of Zambia’s cooperation with China. It included the signing of a trilateral agreement among Tanzania, Zambia and China which resulted into the successful construction of the first Chinese project in Africa in 1976. The TAZARA rail still remains an important trans-national railway link that supports trade between Southern African countries and Asia.
Part of Ambassador Winnie Chibesakunda’s Statement read:
“I know it is common knowledge among Chinese people that on October 25th, 1971 the resolution of the 26th session of the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted the restoration of all legitimate rights of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations. It should not be forgotten amongst the Chinese people that it was old friends from Africa such as President Kaunda that played a significant role in assisting China’s re-admission into the UN and gaining of international status.
In a nutshell, the bilateral relations established by our two great leaders in early 1960’s has overtime led to numerous achievements and contributions to the socio-economic development of both Zambia and China. These stem from social and economic infrastructure development to human capacity development as well as people to people and cultural exchanges, among others.
At a regional level, President Kaunda leaves a legacy of a true patriot of pan-African, an ardent liberation fighter for the African region. The 97 years of Kenneth Kaunda’s life will be happily remembered for being a best leader of a sovereign state in the world who granted safe haven to all liberation movements of the then colonized African states.
President Kaunda hosted liberation movements from Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, among several other African countries at great financial cost and perilous military threats from resisting countries at the time.
Amidst suffering of his people and government, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda never abandoned the people of African countries who had been under the yoke of colonialism. He treated liberation movements with equity and great respect which eventually paid handsome dividends of freedom.
As Zambia’s founding father, Dr. Kaunda is particularly respected for his willingness to relinquish power after an electoral defeat in 1991. Even at a time when he was being subjected to political persecutions, Dr. Kaunda remained open to consultation on governance and socio-economic matters both at local and international scene. He left the political stage while people were still clapping which earned him international accolades and respect as one of Africa’s greatest leader and an icon.
Zambia Eagle Great Commander Medal
In 2003, the then Zambian President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa held a grand ceremony and awarded Dr. Kenneth Kaunda the highest medal of honour as, “Zambia Eagle Great Commander Medal”;
On November 15, 2009, he was awarded one of the “Five Africans who Touched China” by the China-Africa People’s Friendship Association for his outstanding contributions to friendship.
The trademark white handkerchief has retired, but the blessings it bestowed on the foreheads of many Zambian and Chinese people shall not be tired of bringing fortunes to our two great nations forever.”