RIP Kenneth Kaunda – Latest From Nigeria, Nigerian Newspapers, Politics
By Tony Ademiluyi
The industrial revolution of the 19th century was one of the immediate causes of the abolition of slavery as factory owners in Europe, especially in Britain where it originated from, needed a gargantuan market. for their goods. Africa was the new frontier and so it made perfect sense to ban slavery so that the people of the continent had some economic clout to buy the surplus goods from Europe.
The twentieth century was also the time of the decolonization of Africa by many African nationalists who had studied abroad and were keen to export democratic ideals to their respective countries. Many were killed, maimed, imprisoned and exiled for their beliefs by colonial overlords, but they remained firmly committed to ridding the continent of the grim yoke of colonialism despite the humiliations they suffered for the cause.
Kenneth David Kaunda affectionately known as KK was one of those African nationalists who rose to be counted.
Her parents from the Bemba ethnic group were both teachers, her mother being the first woman to teach in then colonial Zambia. The last born in the family, he had to be influenced to become a teacher by his parents. Like many African nationalists, he was trained by missionaries – in his case Scottish missionaries. Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah from Ghana and Robert Gabriel Mugabe from Zimbabwe were trained by the Roman Catholic Church.
Kaunda taught not only in his native Zambia, but also in Tanzania and Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. While a teacher, he read the works of Indian nationalist Mahatma Ghandi, who he said in a later interview had a profound influence on him.
At just 25 years old in 1949, he joined partisan politics by becoming a founding member of the African National Congress of Northern Rhodesia. In 1953, he moved to Lusaka where he became secretary general of the African National Congress under the presidency of Harry Nkumbula. In 1955, he was first imprisoned when he and Nkumbula spent two months behind bars for distributing subversive literature to the people. The two leaders quarreled when Nkumbula was influenced by Caucasian liberals and was not militant in his approach to demanding Zambia’s full emancipation from the British.
This led Kaunda to found the African National Congress of Zambia (ZANC) in 1958. ZANC was banned in 1959 and he was jailed for nine months for its nationalist activities.
Mainza Chona and other nationalists split from the ZANC and formed the United National Independence Party (UNIP), and Kaunda was elected president in 1960 upon his release from detention. In 1961, he visited Martin Luther King Jr in Atlanta and introduced civil disobedience into his campaigns for the liberation of Zambia, including arson and the blocking of important roads.
Zambia became independent in 1964 and it was elected its first president.
As a former teacher he was concerned about the poor state of education in the country left behind by the deceased Brits. He made sure there was a massive government education grant that saw a monumental increase in student enrollment at all levels.
The economy was quite vibrant at independence largely due to its vast mineral deposits. However, its economic policies have been extremely disastrous, which has greatly impoverished many Zambians. Although he owns some of the most beautiful agricultural land in Africa, he decided to adopt socialist measures for agriculture in the country, modeled on what Mwalimu Julius Nyerere did in Tanzania with very disastrous results. . In 1973, the fall in oil and copper prices led to a massive reduction in the income of nationalized mines. He then decided to set up a council of the Bretton Woods Institutions – the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by devaluing the local currency – the Kwacha in the 1980s. In 1990, he was forced to privatize some companies state that did not appeal to the majority of the Zambian population.
He was rather dictatorial as he banned all political parties except his UNIP in the country in 1968 following a violent eruption after the elections. He created a personality cult with extremely weak institutions typical of many of his fellow African leaders who preferred strong men to strong institutions.
He opposed apartheid in South Africa and expressed his support for Nelson Mandela, who was then the most famous prisoner in the world, as well as vehemently opposing the domination of the white minority in Rhodesia at the time and aligned himself with Robert Mugabe during his decade of incarceration. During the Cold War he aligned himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and served as its president between 1970 and 1973. He was also a strong supporter of the unity of Africa as it was espoused by Kwame Nkrumah and played a key role in the establishment of the United Nations for Africa. The unit now the African Union held the presidency from 1970 to 1971, then from 1987 to 1988.
In 1991, he narrowly survived an attempted coup as riots broke out across the country over the need for a multi-party system, with the majority of Zambians tired of his one-party dictatorship. This allowed him to authorize many parties which led to the formation of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) led by former trade unionist Frederick Chiluba which swept UNIP from power by a landslide.
He clashed with Chiluba’s presidency and he was declared a Malawian to prevent him from running for the 1996 presidency. A court later declared him stateless after an unsuccessful attempt to deport him to Malawi, but he overcame the challenges.
He suffered the double tragedy of losing two of his sons – one to HIV / AIDS in 1986. This made him take more than a fleeting interest in the fight against HIV / AIDS with worldwide recognition for his efforts.
He was a prolific writer and his published books include Dominion Status for Central Africa, Zamia will be free, Zambia, Independence and Beyond: The Speeches of Kenneth Kaunda, A humanist in Africa: Letters to Collin M. Morris from Kenneth D. Kaunda, The Humanist Perspective, Humanism in Zambia, The Enigma of Violence, Kaunda on Violence.
Despite his flaws which made him one of Africa’s most controversial former rulers, he was a great son of Africa and we are happy that he lived to be 97 years old.
May his soul rest in peace, and may posterity judge him with kindness!
- Tony Ademiluyi is the co-founder of The Vent Republic – www.theventrepublic.comand written from Lagos. He can be reached on [email protected]and 08167677075.