Zambia: Tribute to Mama Betty Kaunda

opinion

WE join the nation and the international community in mourning the passing of Mama Betty Kaunda, wife of first Republican President Dr Kenneth Kaunda.

She was put to rest at the family farmhouse in Lusaka's New Kasama area at a burial ceremony witnessed by hundreds of mourners from all walks of life.

She was given a befitting honour--a State funeral--and the multitudes who turned up for the requiem mass at the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the capital bore testimony to the fact that she was, indeed, a great woman who touched many hearts within her nucleus and extended family circles as well as the nation at large.

Mrs Kaunda will be remembered as a simple, down to earth woman who did not exude any airs of exaggerated self-importance as most people in high positions often do. She lived a simple life devoid of the expensive taste for material things that invariably accompany the trappings of high office.

Given the position she occupied in State House as First Lady for 27 years, Mrs Kaunda would have grown into a powerful and an untouchable person had she fallen prey to the temptation to abuse her acquired influence on account of the fact that her husband occupied the highest office in the land for nearly three decades.

However, despite her humble and meek character, Mrs Kaunda was a brave warrior, a committed and dedicated freedom fighter who exhibited the same level of tenacity and courage as her husband during the struggle for independence.

During the time Dr Kaunda served time in prison for spear-heading the struggle for political emancipation, Mrs Kaunda took care of not only her immediate family, but other freedom fighters and allies of Dr Kaunda.

She remained steadfast and focused on the ultimate goal that all freedom fighters wanted to achieve, which was to free the country from the yoke of colonialism--their personal tribulations and inconveniences notwithstanding.

Some of the unsung heroes and heroines of the struggle to end British colonial rule paid the ultimate sacrifice--they lost their lives in the process, and little mention is made of them, save for brief references to them in history books.

Little mention was made of Mrs Kaunda's tribulations and sacrifices until her demise just over a week ago. We consider it a travesty of justice that many of the unsung heroes and heroines of our country's independence struggle are often mentioned in passing without according them the full credit they deserve for their sacrifices.

We take our hearts off to all the people who joined the Kaunda family to commiserate and mourn with them over the loss of a great woman who embodied all the virtues and attributes of a good person, a good wife, mother and great grandmother to a large family.

One legacy she has bequeathed to our great nation is that of hard work, commitment and dedication. She amply demonstrated through her commitment to the struggle for political freedom that there was honour in adopting a selfless attitude and a principled and uncompromising stand on issues of national importance.

The numerous acts of valour attributed to many freedom fighters epitomised the indefatigable fighting spirit of the breed of freedom fighters our country had.

The only way to repay them for their sacrifices is to honour them appropriately and exhibit the same courage and tenacity in defending the hard won freedom.

The honour accorded Mrs Kaunda by the Government was befitting and well-deserved.

Farewell, Mama Betty Kaunda. May her soul rest in eternal peace.

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