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Buhari, Obasanjo, others mourn Late Zambian President, Kaunda

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By Sunday Elom N, Awka and Segun Ayinde, Abeokuta

President Muhammadu Buhari has described Zambia’s founding President and liberation hero, Kenneth Kaunda, as one of the greatest African and world leaders of all time who loved his country and people profoundly.

The President’s Spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday, quoted Buhari as stating this in his reacting to Kaunda’s death.

Orient weekend can report that Kaunda, who died at the age of 97, ruled Zambia from 1964, when the Southern African country won its independence from Britain, to 1991.

“I have received his, (Kaunda’s) passing with great shock because I knew his contributions to the development of not only Zambia but also, Africa at large.

“We can’t forget in a hurry how Kaunda gave shelter to anti-apartheid freedom fighters from South Africa and former Rhodesia.”

Buhari described the late Zambian president as one of the loudest voices for the liberation of Africa from colonialism and imperialism, stressing that he did so with passion and sincerity.

Similarly, former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday mourned the death of the first President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda.

Obasanjo in a tribute to the late president said his demise has brought the end the pioneers and fathers forefathers who led the struggles for decolonization of the African continent.

The ex-president disclosed this in a press statement made available to newsmen by his Media Aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, describing him as the last of the Mohicans.

Obasanjo in the statement titled” Gone is the Last of the Mohicans: Tribute to Kenneth Kaunda” said that his death was a great loss to the people of Zambia and the entire African nations.

He, expressed shock that he arrived at Addis Abba, the capital of Ethopia, only to be welcome with the sad news of one of the founding father of the nation, Dr. Kaunda.

The former president while expressing his heartfelt condolences to the Kaunda family, President Edgar Lungu, and the government as well as people of the Republic of Zambia said that a great son of Africa had gone home 

According to him, Kaunda had joined the lists of past presidents of Africa, including Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal, Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, to mentioned few.

Obasanjo therefore urged Africans and friends of Africa “take solace in the knowledge that President Kaunda whom hr said had gone home to a well-deserved rest.

He said ” Tonight, I was welcomed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by the sad news of the death of the first President of the Republic of Zambia and a founding father of the nation, His Excellency Dr. Kenneth Kaunda.” 

“In this moment of great loss to Zambians and indeed all Africans, I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the Kaunda family, President Edgar Lungu, and the government and people of the Republic of Zambia.”

“The demise of President Kaunda at the grand old age of 97 years brings to end the pioneers and forefathers who led the struggles for decolonisation of the African continent and received the instrument of Independence from the colonial masters in Africa.”

“Let all Africans and friends of Africa take solace in the knowledge that President Kaunda has gone home to a well-deserved rest and to proudly take his place beside his brothers such as Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal, Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, Ahmed Sékou Touré of Guinea, Félix Houphouët-Boigny of Côte d’Ivoire, Patrice Lumumba of Congo, Nelson Mandela of South Africa to name but a few.”

“All of them, without exception, were nationalists who made sacrifices in diverse ways. Some, like Patrice Lumumba, untimely lost their lives soon after independence. We are consoled that God granted President Kaunda long life to witness the progression of Africa through five decades of proud and not-so proud moments.”

“In December 2015, I visited President Kaunda at his home in Lusaka in what was to be our last meeting. As we discussed about everything from family to politics in our two countries and indeed in Africa generally, I asked him if the Africa that we have today is the Africa for which he and his contemporaries struggled and fought. President Kaunda was visibly pained in his response and at some point he broke down and wept. It was obvious to me how disappointed he was about some of the challenges that have plagued our continent for decades since independence.”

“As we mourn President Kaunda, my prayer is that the death of this great African son and leader will remind us of the sacrifices that he and his contemporaries who fought for Africa’s independence made. Let it remind us of the vision that they had for Africa; their hopes and aspirations; their dream for a free, strong, united and prosperous Africa. Let us, African leaders and people, never let the labour of these heroes past be in vain. Rest well, KK. Africa is free and will be great. he added.

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