Your Excellency, the first president of the republic of Zambia, comrade dr. Kenneth David Kaunda, your 90th birthday is a very special day not only for you, but a lot of other people, the world over.
Let me on the onset take this rare opportunity to heartily, on behalf of the government of the republic of Zambia, the people of Zambia, other well wishers and indeed on my own behalf, wish you a very happy and memorable 90th birthday, which falls on 28th April, 2014.
This day is special to Zambia, as it will remind us of the day god gave our motherland a founding father, who successfully led our gallant freedom fighters in the struggle for independence.
This 90th birthday, in the year our country is celebrating the golden jubilee of independence under the theme “commemorating god’s favour of fifty years of independence for continued peace, unity, democracy, patriotism and prosperity”. This jubilee may not have been possible if not for the sacrifices you and other gallant freedom fighters made during the struggle for our independence.
It is my wish that we use this occasion to reflect on the sacrifices you and your fellow compatriots made to liberate this great nation and its people from the demeaning and painful experience of racial discrimination, poverty and destitution arising from colonialism. It is these painful experiences that motivated you to engage in the liberation struggle.
As a young teacher then and at the age of 25, Zambia recalls that you travelled throughout the country on a bicycle with a guitar slung over your shoulder singing “freedom songs” you composed, to communicate freedom messages and mobilise the people. You were imprisoned for 9 months and yet never gave-up.
Your Excellency, as a staunch Christian and a firm believer of peace, you led the liberation struggle based on principle of non-violence. Thus, instead of taking up arms, you opted for dialogue to advocate for right to self rule and benefit from equitable distribution of the country’s vast resources. You appealed to public opinion in Britain, our colonial masters and the rest of the world, until Zambia finally got its independence.
It is for this reason that immediately after independence, you and your compatriots embarked on massive infrastructure development in various sectors. The priorities were education and health sectors, ensuring that the facilities were accessible to all Zambians irrespective of one’s status in society, race or colour of the skin.
After independence, you emphasised that regardless of our diversity in opinion, ethnicity, colour and religion, we were one country and one people. With this, you managed to bring all the 73 tribal and ethnic groupings in this country together, thus the famous ‘one Zambia, one nation’ motto. This is why we, as a country, have not experienced any civil wars and bloodshed like some independent countries. As a result of this, Zambia has received several accolades as an oasis of peace.
Your efforts did not stop at liberating our country, but went further to advocate for, and support the independence struggle of other African countries which were still under colonial rule at great cost and sacrifice to the country.
In addition, you played a critical role in the formation of continental and regional bodies to spearhead the continent’s political and economic independence, unity, peace, stability and prosperity. As a result, Zambia’s history and that of the liberation of many African countries would be incomplete, without the mention of dr. Kenneth David Kaunda.
Your excellency, those of us who worked with you in your government need not be told how hard you worked to build and provide direction for the development of this country. Through your philosophy of humanism, you taught us to respect fellow human beings and put the needs of others, especially the poor, before self.
Your Excellency, we are encouraged that you have continued to serve humanity with humility and dedication through your engagement in various initiatives. Among others, sensitising the masses on HIV and aids, and providing decent shelter to the less privileged through the habitat for humanity. We are proud, as a nation, that even at the age of 90 when you should be enjoying your retirement and resting, you continue to advocate for democracy, peace, equality and prosperity for all. You are a true symbol of these beliefs, not only for our great country Zambia, but Africa and the rest of the world. As Zambians, we really count ourselves blessed that our founding father is still with us, 50 years after independence, to see the fruits of his sacrifice, selflessness and patriotism.
You continue to counsel those of us in leadership to work towards the common good of Zambia. You continue to call for peace and dialogue among our people holding divergent views on important issues of national interest. Further, you continue to teach us the importance of unity and openly despised tribalism which you firmly believe is a threat to national peace and unity. For us you are an embodiment of love, wisdom, selflessness, unity, resilience and great vision.
It is my sincere wish that as leaders in all spheres of human life, we learn from your counsel, humility and sacrifice, and be inspired to contribute to uplifting the living standards of our people.
As Zambia reflects on god’s favour for her golden jubilee of independence, it will be an honour to celebrate your Excellency’s 90th birthday in recognition of your significant contribution to the peace, stability and development of our mother land. This and many generations to come shall forever be thankful to god for the gift you are to our nation.
May the almighty god shower abundant blessings upon your efforts. May god grant your Excellency good health, endless joy and serenity as you reflect on your life time memories.
Happy 90th birthday comrade KK. mcs -28/04/14