Mandela loved his neighbor, did Whites? asks former President Kaunda of ZambiaBy Brian E. Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Dec 27, 2013 - 6:59:43 PM
Dr. Kenneth Kaunda used the biblical proverbs to sum up the life work of Mr. Mandela, 95, who died peacefully at home in Johannesburg on Dec. 5. Clutching his trademark handkerchief in his left hand, Dr. Kaunda lightened the sad atmosphere by jogging from his seat to the stage and then sprinting to the podium with the energy of a man three times younger than his 89 years.
In impromptu remarks Dec. 15, Dr. Kaunda described Mr. Mandela, his friend and comrade, as a “great son of Africa” and recalled the many appeals to successive “Boers”–White minority presidents—in South Africa to release “Mandela and all his colleagues” imprisoned for championing Black self-determination and freedom.
“I had a chance to meet a number of my friends from the Boers company,” said Dr. Kaunda, sarcastically referring to the White apartheid rulers.
“Who is Nelson Mandela … how do I see him?” he asked.
“This man is a blessed child of God Almighty. He followed the commandments of God Almighty … love God, your Creator, with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength … love your neighbor as you love yourself. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Dr. Kaunda said, highlighting the motivation of Mandela the man and leader.
Speaking in the tone of a wise teacher, Dr. Kaunda used the same words to contrast centuries of segregation, discrimination, exploitation and colonization of Africans by European settlers.
To the White Afrikaners present, he asked: Did you love your neighbor as yourself?
“Segregation, that was not God’s commandment; God’s commandment is love your neighbor as you love yourself. That neighbor is regardless of color … of faith … of anything else; he is your neighbor,” the African leader said.
Dr. Kaunda is respected worldwide as an elder statesman who served prison terms as an independence leader in the fight to end British colonialism in Zambia. He was Zambia’s first post-colonial president from 1964 to 1991.
In the last century, Dr. Kaunda and other leaders led and supported years of African resistance against imperialism and outside control of the resource rich continent. Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Sekou Toure of Guinea, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria, Muammar Gadhafi of Libya, Samora Machel of Mozambique, Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso and Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe are a few of these great leaders.
President Kaunda opened Zambia as an operational base for guerilla movements from Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique, and the outlawed African National Congress, providing political protection and training in armed resistance to Southern African freedom struggles. South African ANC leader Oliver Tambo spent many of his 30 years of exile in Zambia as did many ANC comrades.
With the death of Mr. Mandela, there are few leaders left from the tumultuous era of progressive people’s struggles and anti-colonial movements. With the current issues facing Africa and a marginalized African Union, an elder voice of experience and guidance like Dr. Kaunda is important.
“All of us must remember, as we go on without Madiba, he is no more in terms of life. He’s no more in terms of this life, but he’s still Madiba, our leader. He’s still Madiba sent to us by God, our creator. Madiba sent to us to come and teach us how to fight racism to the best of our ability. This love he had for us all, without that we can’t succeed,” said Dr. Kaunda, referring to Mr. Mandela by his clan name.
(Brian E. Muhammad can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Globalpeeks.)