Cherish role played by freedom fighters – Kaunda

By Jeff Kapembwa

LUSAKA – Zambia’s founding President Kenneth Kaunda has reminded Africans to recognise and cherish the efforts and determination freedom fighters had in seeking the liberation of the continent against colonialism.

Kaunda, 93, a Pan Africanist and one of Southern Africa’s leading liberation heroes, noted that it would be unjustified for the people of Zambia, South Africa and indeed the rest of African, to forget the hard work their forefathers put in to necessitate the liberation of the Southern African region.

Speaking in Lusaka at the commemoration of Oliver Reginald Tambo’s 100 years and the unveiling of a heritage site, the house he lived in for 22 years as ANC leader while in exile, Kaunda reminded Africans to always remember the blood, sweat and sacrifice of founding  leaders as they cherish the freedom.

The sacrifice by freedom fighters remains a symbol of commitment to freedom of the continent and thus Africans must remain bound by those elements, he said.

Kaunda noted that although Tambo might not be alive, he is remembered for his relentless fight for the independence of South Africa and the gesture by Zambia to turn the house located in Avondale, east of Lusaka, into a national heritage site was fitting to mark his sacrifice for mankind.

Tambo, fondly known as OR, would have celebrated 100 years this year. While fighting against apartheid, he sought sanctuary in Zambia using several houses, including the house that has now been turned into heritage site, for 22 years when he was head of the ANC.

The new heritage site was officially unveiled by President Edgar Lungu and his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma last week. It is believed to have been Tambo’s favourite residence while in Zambia. Kaunda thanked the two leaders for joining hands in fulfilling what Tambo would have loved to see if he were alive.

“My two beloved presidents, thank you for this. We must never, never forget that we are bound by common aspirations, common challenges and we should never forget that our founding fathers had to sacrifice, shed blood and sweat,” he said.

Zambia hosted many freedom fighters from liberation movements in the region, including Tambo who Kaunda said he worked with before Zambia’s independence and after. Tambo was  described by Kaunda  an excellent leader who fought apartheid while  Zambia did its part by ensuring that he had a home as he fought battles.

At the same occasion, President Lungu  said the time had come for Africans to recognise their own heritage sites as these played important roles of reminding people of their past and keeping them united..

It was important to make Zambia the headquarters of the liberation struggle of southern Africa and so many more sites should be recognised as heritage areas.

President Zuma described the launch of the heritage site, which came ahead of Tambo attaining 100 years, as a hallmark.

ANC’s decision to send Tambo to Zambia was made to ensure the ANC continued to fight at a time other party leaders were in jail and others were facing a high treason trial.

After Tambo’s move to Lusaka, the Zambian capital city became dangerous for all citizens.

The stroke he suffered in 1991 forced Tambo to return to South Africa at a time he had formulated the negotiation policy of South Africa’s independence.

Tambo, then 75, died on 24 April 1993.

President Zuma thanked Kaunda and Zambians for recognizing Tambo’s role in liberating South Africa, describing him as an exemplary man who kept the ANC together regardless of where he was.

The three leaders later visited Kaunda’s old home in Chilenje where he lived as he and other freed fighters sought the liberation of Zambia.

The house has since been turned into a national heritage site.

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