FIRST Republican President Kenneth Kaunda says he is humbled that Zambia has been recognised by the African Union (AU) for the role it played during the independence struggle of other African countries.
Dr Kaunda said in an interview on arrival on Wednesday night, ahead of being honoured by the AU for his role to liberate some African States that the recognition was not only for him, but for the Zambian people as well.
“I am grateful to the AU for recognising what Zambia did during the struggle for independence. The AU is not only honouring one man, they are honouring the whole country and I am grateful for that,” Dr Kaunda said.
He would be honoured by the AU as it hosts the 21st Ordinary Summit being held alongside celebrations to mark 50 years of its (OAU) existence, under the theme ‘Pan-Africanism and Africa Renaissance.’
Several activities have been lined up ahead of the official summit on Sunday.
The 89-year-old icon arrived in the company of Justice Minister, Wynter Kabimba and was met by Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Susan Sikaneta.
Several other dignitaries, who were arriving for the summit, including former Secretary General for the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now AU, William Eketi, welcomed Dr Kaunda.
Dr Kaunda, in his trademark jogging antic, attracted a round of applause at Bole International Airport.
He said it was important for the current crop of African leaders to emulate the AU’s founding fathers and continue fostering peace and unity.
Dr Kaunda said the founding members had taken a path of ensuring unity and co-existence across the continent.
He said Zambia, with the motto, “One Zambia One Nation”, embraced all tribes and races and that had helped to anchor the peace that had continued to prevail.
“To my young people, we would not have been where we are today. We accepted everyone, all 72 tribes, including English speaking, people from India, Portugal, everyone,” he said.
He said Zambia was home to most freedom fighters from neighbouring States and beyond.
Dr Kaunda was an influential figure in the liberation of Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
He said the leaders realised the importance of being a united front, hence the formation of the AU.
He said regional blocs such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), were a true reflection of Africa’s commitment to consolidate unity.
“I am hopeful that Africa’s leaders, through the AU, will continue building on unity and peace in Africa,” Dr Kaunda said.