SADC should celebrate its heroes
In our features section we run a historical piece chronicling the heroics of founding Zambian President, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, in liberating the Southern African Development Community region and Africa at large.
Kaunda is one of the luminaries of the struggle to free Africa from the yoke of colonialism. He is in the same class with revolutionaries such as the late Tanzanian founding President Julius Nyerere, the late Mozambican leader Samora Machel, the late South African first democratic leader Nelson Mandela as well as living heroes who include Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Namibian founding President, Dr Sam Nujoma.
A few months ago, we also ran a story of President Mugabe calling for more recognition of the efforts of icons of Nyerere’s calibre given the gigantic sacrifice they made to free the Southern African region. President Mugabe bemoaned the lack of proper recognition of the work done by former president Nyerere. He said such a scenario had the negative effect of erasing, from the memories of generations to come, the legacy of the revolutionaries who were so resolute in their fight for the total independence of the African continent. Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique provided support and bases for liberation movements in Southern Africa, as they waged war on colonial settler regimes.
The onus to celebrate the sacrifices of the heroes from these countries lies squarely with the former liberation movements from Southern Africa. So far, the former liberation movements from Southern Africa have resolved to establish a political school to preserve the liberation legacy, which we applaud. But there is need to move with speed to counter the work of forces bent on erasing from the region’s memory, the history of our struggles.
Africa should be reminded of the responsibilities icons such as Kaunda, Nyerere and Machel carried to ensure the liberation of fellow Southern African countries. Kaunda has been honoured in Zimbabwe and Namibia in various ways. Zimbabwe has streets named after Kaunda, Nyerere and Machel in central Harare. At its 25th independence anniversary, Zimbabwe went a step further and honoured the leaders of the Frontline States for the immense contribution they made to liberate Harare from white minority rule and the SADC region as a whole.
As part of its silver jubilee celebrations Zimbabwe awarded the regional heroes the Royal Order of Munhumutapa, which is the highest national honour.
The first chairperson of the Frontline States, Nyerere was honoured for his “exceptional accomplishments as the luminary and conscience of African nationalism”.
The citation said he was “the fulcrum of liberation efforts in the region for his outstanding contribution to Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle against colonialism and all its tentacles”.
The late Chief Seretse Khama of Botswana was recognised for his “exceptional commitment to the eradication of colonial domination, unyielding dedication to pan-African ideas and sterling contribution to Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle and the pursuit of justice and equality”.
Zambia’s founding President Kaunda, the only leader among the five who is still alive, was honoured for his “exceptional strength of resolve, selfless dedication, revolutionary leadership and outstanding contribution during Zimbabwe’s long and arduous struggle for equality, justice and self-determination.”
Two years ago Namibia honoured Kaunda with a furnished house worth R13 million in the capital Windhoek for his role in helping Namibians free themselves from the bondage of colonialism.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba said the gesture was in recognition of Kaunda’s commendable efforts to help free Namibia and Africa at large from colonial domination. All these are commendable efforts at recognising our heroes but there is a feeling we should have more imprints of their legacy all over the region.
In February, President Mugabe vowed that he would use his influence as deputy chair of the African Union to change the current state of affairs where the continent fails to honour its own sons and daughters who toiled day and night for the liberation of the continent.
There is always the need to constantly remind our Southern African Development Community region of the fact that we were the main actors of our liberation, which we achieved through struggle and sacrifice whether as the freedom fighters at the war front, the masses assisting the cadres with material and moral support or the nationalists providing leadership to the liberation movements.
We should never lose sight of that particular fact and it is none but the former liberation movements, which should push for more honours to be bestowed upon the region’s heroes.