On 24 October 1964, six years to the day after Kaunda and his followers formed Zambia Africa National Congress, Northern Rhodes I became the new Republic of Zambia. At a colourful and emotionally charged ceremony at the Independence Stadium in Lusaka at mid-night on 23 October 1964, the Union Jack was lowered and the Zambian National flag was raised slowly to the accompaniment of the National Anthem. Then the whole stadium burst into cheering. The night was lit with fireworks. At that moment of great joy, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, Kaunda’s boyhood friend, rushed to the dais and hugged the new President of Zambia. Kapwepwe beaming with joy told his friend, “we have done it, we have done it.”
The event at the Independence Stadium ushered Kaunda into State House which was a black majority rule in Zambia. Kaunda became the first president of the new nation Zambia. During his reign as President of the nation, he believed and introduced the philosophy of Humanism.
According to Kaunda’s Humanism Philosophy, it centered on the “high valuation of man and respect for human dignity” and he implored his followers “to do everything possible to keep the society man-centered.”
Kaunda believed in the Decolonization in Southern Africa. Kaunda had a hard-headed uncompromising commitment to the liquidation of colonialism and racial discrimination gained respect for Zambia. During his Presidency, Zambia had been willing throughout the period of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in Rhodesia and the Liberation wars to accept the economic and military risks of supporting progressive forces.
In a speech on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Kaunda said
“Zambia has done what it can to fight for justice. The hardships which we have undergone since the Universal Declaration of Independence will not deter us from making further sacrifices. As early as 1968, some Zambians had started to long for the day when their political leaders would find more time and satisfaction concentrating on bread and butter issues of direct concern to their own people………..”
Kaunda’s hard-line stance to see to it that Southern Africa nations are independent began to yield the desired results when most countries became independent by the year 1980. Kaunda’s sacrifices for the region deserve better recognition from the citizens of the region and beyond.
An extract from “End of Kaunda Era” written by John M Mwanakatwe.
April series dedicated to the birth month for Zambia’s first Republican President