NO ONE is too old to die, says Fred M’membe as he mourns Dr Kenneth Kaunda.
Reacting to the death of Dr Kaunda, the Socialist Party president said, “I do not know what to say or how to say it”.
“No one is too old to die. For now, I can only urge you my fellow citizens to take a solemn pledge to work for unity, fraternity and peace as the best tribute we can all pay to KK’s memory. KK was a man of peace and justice. The first thing for all of us to remember now is that none of us dare engage in violence for whatever reason,” urged Dr M’membe. “We have to behave in a disciplined manner and face all the perils that surround us, determined to carry out the mandate that our great leader has given us, remembering always that if his spirit looks upon us and sees us, nothing would displease his soul so much as to see that we have indulged in any small behaviour or any violence. We must hold together, and all our petty troubles and differences and conflicts must be ended in the face of this great disaster. Pray for KK’s soul to rest in eternal peace. And while we pray, the greatest prayer that we can offer is to take a pledge to dedicate ourselves to peace, justice and equity, and to the cause for which this great countryman of ours lived. That is the best prayer that we can offer him and his memory. That is the best prayer we can offer to Zambia and ourselves.”
Zambia’s founding leader was aged 97.
His office on Monday disclosed that the first Republican president had been admitted to Maina Soko Medical Hospital, a military facility, for what was suspected to be pneumonia.
Dr Kaunda ruled Zambia for 27 years, taking the helm after the country gained independence from Britain in October 1964.
In Monday’s terse statement, Dr Kaunda had asked Zambians and the international community to pray for him “as the medical team is doing everything possible to ensure that he recovers”.
Dr Kaunda headed the nationalist party, the left-of-centre UNIP, until he lost power to MMD’s Frederick Chiluba in 1991.
While in power he hosted many of the movements fighting for independence or black equality in other countries around the region, including South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC).
Out of power he regained stature as one of Africa’s political giants, helping to mediate crises in Zimbabwe and Kenya.
He became an AIDS campaigner, announcing publicly at the peak of the pandemic that one of his sons had died from the illness.