By the Honourable Mobina S.B. Jaffer, Q.C., Senator : During the Senate sitting on May 29, I was truly privileged to introduce His Excellency, Kenneth Kaunda, former President of Zambia; and His Excellency Bobby Mbunji Samakai, the High Commissioner of Zambia to Canada. As a young person, President Kaunda was my mentor, and he is a true leader of Africa. During his visit, he said to me that he visited Canada to thank Canadians for the role that we played in ending Apartheid in South Africa.
President Kaunda led what was then called Northern Rhodesia to full independence as Zambia in 1964. He went on to serve as the first President of Zambia from 1964 to 1991. He is widely recognized as one of Africa’s founding fathers.
In a 2006 interview, Mr. Harry Kreisler, of the University of California, Berkley, asked President Kaunda how he learned to work with the different people in his country. His Excellency responded:
You have to love people, first thing. You have to genuinely have feelings of love for your people. You look at what is happening in society, all that angers you, disturbs you, and so you decide, “I am going to participate in this fight to establish something better for my people.”
Then you ask yourself, “Am I ready to go to prison for my beliefs?” If this answer is yes, very good, you’ll go ahead. If you can’t make it, you must only suit yourself and say, “I’m sorry, I cannot participate in this because I cannot go to prison.” That’s how the approach is, or was in those days. I’m sure it still is today.
Rarely has the world seen such limitless passion by a leader for his country and for his people.
In the years that have followed his retirement, His Excellency has devoted much of his time to the battle against the spread of AIDs. In 2003, he was awarded the Grand Order of the Eagle in Zambia by the then President Levy Mwanawasa.
President Kaunda inspires us through his commitment to his people and his struggle against colonialism, war and disease. In return, we pledge to continue that struggle and to build on the relationship between Canada and Zambia.