Government declares 21days of national mourning in honor of Zambia’s late founding father Dr. Kenneth Kaunda who died at 97 years..
It was October 31, 1991 and to be precise, if the hands of time were reversed, it is exactly 29 years ago, five months before 30. Zambia’s first President Kenneth Kaunda had just voted in the general elections slightly after 06:00 hrs at State House polling station.
As a member of the Zambia Information Service press room unit, I was assigned to be at State House before the polling station opened.
Journalists who know the work of the press office, now under the Zambia News and Information Service, would tell that this is a coordination office for press activities for Government and other public interest groups.
The previous day I had collected names of reporters to cover Dr Kaunda cast his vote in an election he was being challenged by Frederick Chiluba of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD).
The 1991 election was significant as it was also a celebration of Zambia’s return to multi-party democracy after 27 years of a UNIP engineered one party rule in 1972.
After Dr Kaunda had cast his vote and had moved out of the polling station, it was time for interviews.
“Your Excellency, the MMD is claiming you will run away to Iraqi if you lose these elections. What is your comment?” asked one reporter.
Dr Kaunda was candid in his response.
“Zambia is my country and I will die here. I invite you reporters into State House so that we can wait for results together,” he said. This is how I found myself in State House on the last day of October and a day of voting in a general election.
From morning up to 14:00 hrs, Dr Kaunda played Golf alone on the greens of the State House golf course.
It was easy to tell that Dr Kaunda was visibly tense. He would hit the golf ball and thereafter race towards it.
I would be lying if I told you that the security detail around Dr Kaunda was relaxed.
While Dr Kaunda would easily apply speed of an athlete, but the gasping among the presidential guard was enough to tell their story.
Around 15:00 hrs when lunch was served where the investiture ceremony is normally held at State House, Dr Kaunda personally handed over the Eagle plates to us, the reporters, for a self-service lunch break.
While Dr Kaunda was confident of dealing with the Mandrax Dealers as he used to refer to MMD members, the reporters had also their views on the future of Zambia.
We moved out of State House to witness the counting of ballots and after 24 hrs, there was a change of the job holder at State House.
While some saw Dr Kaunda as a dictator, his words confessing his love for Zambia and Africa spoke and still speaks volumes.
In Zambia, he was a disciplinarian who dismissed civil servants and ministers alike on family misdeeds.
When Dr Kaunda had a press briefing, one must be deaf not to hear a pin dropping.
In the region and Africa, he fought for the liberation of all countries in colonial bondage.
Perhaps, this is the reason Nelson Mandela made Zambia the first country to visit when he was released from 27 years in jail.
Dr Kaunda was admitted to Maina Soko Medical Centre in Lusaka on June 14, 2021.
He was born on April 28, 1924.
The man referred to as Super Ken has today June 17, 2021, departed to be on the other side of life.
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