THERE is a general appeal and desire that Zambia mourns President Sata with dignity. In the couple of days since the news of his passing filtered through, Zambians have lived up to this widely held wish.
True to the Zambian spirit of togetherness in such times of sorrow, differences of all shades have been put aside and all are grieving in word and deed for President Sata. Politicians, religious and community leaders, the elderly and the children have all collectively bowed their heads in honour of an astute politician who has left an indelible mark on Zambia’s history.
President Sata’s fellow heads of State and governments are in mourning, too, with Zambia and they are expressing this in the many messages of condolences being sent to the First Family and to Zambians as a whole.
With Government now releasing the funeral programme, Zambians and their many foreign friends can now have a focused approach on how they can individually and collectively give President Sata that deserved dignified farewell.
Government has provided for 14 days of national mourning and that the funeral will be in Lusaka. For many, the grief will certainly extend way beyond this two-week period because President Sata touched the lives of many through his actions, which have enhanced their standards of living.
There are millions of Zambians who want to pay their last respects in person. Many must have hoped that the President’s body would be taken around the provinces as was the case with the late President Mwanawasa.
This will not be so with President Sata’s funeral. We know many will be disappointed by this decision, but we urge all Zambians to appreciate that the funeral will be confined to Lusaka. This, however, does not stop all those in grief to mourn President Sata wherever they may be in Zambia or indeed in other parts of the world.
Already many are mourning in the many parts of the country and need not be present at the formal gathering in Lusaka to prove that they, too, are in grief.
What matters the most is that they spare time in memory of a President who was robust about making Zambia a better country for all.
Events of the funeral programme will be broadcast on national television countrywide and so those in mourning in other parts of Zambia will be accorded the opportunity to follow the proceedings. This can be done collectively at selected venues or in the privacy of their homes.
The burial, on Tuesday November 11, will be preceded by body viewing for seven days from November 2 at Mulungushi International Conference Centre. Tens of thousands of people are expected to queue up to pay their last respects.
Crowd control is often a challenge but this should not be so for this funeral. Zambians did so with dignity for President Mwanawasa and there is no reason why they should not do so for President Sata.
The dignity with which the nation bids the final goodbye to President Sata will yet again reflect to the rest of the world that Zambia is indeed a haven of peace where divergent views do not stand in the way of national unity.
We, therefore, urge all Zambians to be part of the national family that gives the country this unique character by keeping their hands linked in mourning the leader of the nation, Michael Chilufya Sata.