IT is undisputable that Dr Kenneth Kaunda is a household name in Zambia, Africa and the world at large.
Zambia’s history is incomplete without the mention of this great son of the Zambian soil and what he did to the country.
Dr Kaunda ruled Zambia for 27 years and gracefully handed over power in 1991 after his UNIP party lost elections to the MMD.
But even after leaving power 28 years ago, KK is still the father of the nation, who the majority of Zambians adore and would want to associate with.
In the last week of September 2019, KK decided to go for a holiday in South Luangwa National Park in Mambwe, an area where his late wife, Mama Betty, hailed from.
At the end of his weeklong holiday, the Luangwa Safaris Association decided to host him for lunch at the former Malambo MP Jack Shuma’s residence in the cropping area.
Hosting a person of KK’s standing is always tricky because it becomes difficult to determine who should attend and who should not.
Inviting KK for public lunch is like an open invitation for everyone because even the uninvited would always gate crush to just have a glimpse of super Ken or even his iconic famous white handkerchief.
Many people have never met KK in person but only waved at his plane or just saw him on either TV or in books.
So inviting KK for a public lunch evoked a lot of memories, especially to the freedom fighters who participated in the independence struggle.
Senior Chief Nsefu, chiefs Malama, Kakumbi and Jumbe were some of the people that attended the event.
Dr Kaunda was welcomed in a traditional style, with the locals performing the famous Chindapala dance, usually performed during the Malaila traditional ceremony.
Dr Kaunda, who was accompanied by his staff and his son Kaweche, arrived at Shuma’s residence slightly after 11:00 hours and was welcomed by the traditional dancers.
As usual, KK waved his white handkerchief at a distance to announce his arrival.
As per tradition, KK who was welcomed by his first born, son Col Panji, former Zambia’s High Commissioner to Australia George Zulu, Mambwe council chairperson Maison Phiri, went straight to meet Kunda chiefs led by Nsefu.
The traditional leaders also had a rare privilege of receiving the KK blessings by placing the white handkerchief on their heads.
This gesture extended to the entire guests, including the freedom fighters, who braved the scorching heat of the Malambo valley to see their comrade.
Upon meeting KK, some freedom fighters, especially the womenfolk, started singing the famous Tiyende Pamodzi song which was obviously reminiscent of their past meetings with the first president.
The singing of KK’s old songs rejuvenated the freedom fighters.
The freedom fighters outperformed the young ones who were busy wriggling their waists while singing traditional songs.
The old songs like odi tilowemo mu Zambia, ena akonda azungu ise tikonda Kaunda sounded new in the ears of the young generation due to the fact that they were not there during the independence struggle.
In welcoming the guests, Shuma said traditionally, when a Kunda invites a fellow human being, it is not only one person that prepares the food but a lot others make contributions towards the satisfaction and welfare of the visitor.
“I am saying so, so that I do not take the food owner of saying ‘I have cooked for you’; it is the people of Malambo who have cooked for you sir. In particular, I want to thank our colleagues the members of the Luangwa Safaris Association through their chairman Mr Ken Waterhouse, who have been wonderfully generous in providing what you will test as a wonderful meal. Sir, I am too young to welcome you going by your stature as having been the first president and being my father and being a great grandfather of a lot of our children,” he said.
Waterhouse, who presented a special walking stick to KK, said the first president had done a lot for the Luangwa Valley as well as the country at large.
“He (KK) has put in so much towards this valley, towards this country and to conservation. He has done so many great things for the people and for the communities and this is something that cannot be underappreciated. We just want to make sure that we give this great man the appreciation he deserves,” he said.
Senior Chief Nsefu said the people of Malambo were happy with KK because he does not forget the area where he married from.
“Mwankhala muwela kuchoka mukalibe kunkhala pampando, kuzonkhala pampando, mpaka zino nthawi tikuba namwe kuno. So seo na bana banu onse tunkhala otemwa maningi kuti munthu soluwa kwao kwa watengera. Mwene Chinsali ana nzeru so tufuna kumuibilako nzeru kuti zonse zibalanse (you have been coming here before you ascended to the presidency, when you where in office, even now, we are still with you. So us, together with your children, we are happy that a person does not
forget where he married from. A person from Chinsali is more knowledgeable so we just want to get some wisdom so that everything can balance up),” he said.
Senior Chief Nsefu also urged Col Panji and Kaweche to ensure they rehabilitate their late mother’s house in Mambwe district.
Former Zambia’s High Commissioner to Australia George Zulu narrated how KK appointed into the foreign mission under a Musikizi tree at Mfuwe Lodge in 1984.
Zulu said since his appointment, he has been loyal to KK and was even a close friend of the Kaundas.
Dr Kaunda appreciated the people of Malambo for giving him a wonderful woman whom he said he loves even in her death.
He said Mama Betty looked after him and the children very well.
Lutawo Phiri, proprietor of Lutawo Paradise Garden, which grows various species of trees, said meeting KK in person was one of the most exciting moments of his life.
Members of the Luangwa Safaris Association such as the owners of Dorphil Restaurant, Tinta’s Restaurant, Uncle B’s Restaurant, Carving by Madzimbembera Vegetables from Charity, Ondya, Guest book from Banana paper project while Uncle Petty provided drinks, DJ extra tall provided the music system.
KK is a known vegetarian so there was no trace of game meat at the public lunch.
After watching several dances, Dr Kaunda did not hesitate but to exhibit his rare dancing skills when he danced to one kalindula song before lunch.