Dr Kaunda worked hard, as much as 18 to 20 hours a day. He advocated humanism as the national philosophy, proposing universal education and health care. Copper prices remained high, and the country’s economy was incredibly strong.
During his early presidency Dr Kaunda was an outspoken supporter of the anti-apartheid movement and opposed white minority rule in South Africa. He permitted most prominent organizations, such as the African National Congress [ANC], to use Zambia as a base for their struggle for independence. Former African National Congress president Oliver Tambo spent a significant proportion of his 30 year exile living and working in Zambia.
The price for this struggle for freedom was high. In retaliation, the white ruling elites closed their nations’ borders, not even allowing rail traffic out of Zambia. The resulting rise in the cost of exporting goods was a life-or-death issue for the landlocked nation. The same governments encouraged plots to “topple Dr Kaunda” and waged a campaign to discourage foreign investment in the country.
But the people of Zambia endured all these and continued to accept refugees from their neighbours, until asylum seekers accounted for two per cent of the nation’s population.
Peace is humanity’s most pressing priority. Even after his retirement from the political scene, Dr. Kaunda has continued to speak out against the domination of the weak by the strong throughout the world. He urges that we look at the world through the eyes of the poorest nations and the people with the fewest advantages. And still today, Dr. Kaunda continues to fight on the front lines of the non-violent struggle for peace.
Apart from South Africa, Zambia helped fight for the independence of many other neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia among others.
In 1998, Zambia took the lead in efforts to establish a cease-fire in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After the signing of a cease-fire agreement in Lusaka in July and August 1999, Zambia was active in supporting the Congolese peace effort.
Zambia also contributed troops to support UN peacekeeping operations in South Sudan. Zambia’s history of stability and its commitment to regional peace has made it a haven for large numbers of refugees from many countries such as Angola, Rwanda, Burundi and Somali.
After retiring, Dr Kaunda has been involved in various charitable organizations. His most notable contribution has been his zeal in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS. From 2002 to 2004, he was an African President-in-Residence at the African Presidential Archives and Research Centre at Boston University. Through the Kenneth Kaunda Children of Africa Foundation (KKCAF), Dr Kaunda has continued his desire to improve the lives of Zambians, especially the most vulnerable children. The Centre accommodates over 140 orphans and offers services to the vulnerable people and those living with HIV/AIDS.
Recently, he was seen in the attendance of an episode; “Dancing with The Stars” as Dr Kaunda is an avid ballroom dancer.
On 19 October 2007 Dr Kaunda was the recipient of the 2007 Ubuntu Award. The current President of Zambia Mr Michael Chilufya Sata has been making use of the former leader as a roving ambassador for Zambia.
Yes, Zambia has instinctively and tacitly made a resolution to cherish unity. That, regardless of tribal, ethnic, racial backgrounds or any differences, in Dr Kaunda’s nation and successive leaderships in Zambia would always clasp our hands into one another‘s -as one wonderful, vibrant, progressive and victorious people.
We are exceedingly proud that in Dr Kaunda we have a patriarch and architect of the Zambian nation.
We are grateful that our own Dr KK has truly lived to be an embodiment of love, wisdom, selflessness, unity, fortitude and a progressive vision.
First Secretary for Press and Public Relations
Embassy of the Republic of Zambia to Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg, The European Union [EU], Brussels