Mozambican refugees hail Kaunda for championing rights of marginalised

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Refugees at a camp located outside Giyani in Limpopo have expressed sadness following the announcement of the death of former Zambian President, Dr Kenneth Kaunda. Mozambican foreign nationals with refugee status at Rhulani Refugee camp in Malamulele have described Kaunda as a leader who worked closely with the Mozambican government during his presidency.

They say Kaunda championed the rights of the marginalised.

Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s obituary: 

“The death of Kenneth Kaunda is painful to us as people of Mozambican origin. He was someone who was close to Mozambique, he gave Mozambicans support. Now that he is dead, we are in pain. He loved supporting those who were struggling; it is a great loss,” says one refugee.

“I know of Kenneth Kaunda during the former Mozambican regime in the 1980s, from those who were ruling then. He was a good man, he worked well with the Mozambican president. Even the whole Africa, they regard him as someone who was a good leader. When I heard about his passing, I was sad; he sounded like a good man,” says another refugee.

“I know him, he was a good person; we remember him. We had support because of him. If he was alive, he would make positive changes. But now that he is no more, so now we don’t know what will happen because he used to consult with other African presidents,” another refugee adds.

Sipho Mantula reflects on Kaunda’s life and legacy:

‘Great independence era leader’

Tanzanians are also mourning Kaunda’s death. The elderly statesman had a number of ties to Tanzania, in particular, his close friendship with the country’s founding father, Julius Nyerere.

Tanzanian President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has declared a seven-day period of mourning where all flags in the country will fly at half-mast. Zambia has declared 21 days while South Africa has dedicated 10 days in honour of the African giant.

Social media in Tanzania is awash with tributes, many describing him as the last great independence era leader.

Apart from briefly living and working in what is now Tanzania in the mid-1940s, Kaunda and Tanzania’s first president Julius Nyerere had a lot in common.

Both teachers by profession, they resigned from their jobs in the 1950s to lead independence struggles in their respective countries. Like Nyerere, Kaunda was a believer in an African brand of socialism – pushing for a more humanistic approach to development.

The closeness of the two leaders was also revealed in a 1997 incident, where Nyerere talked Kaunda out of a hunger strike after being jailed in Zambia on allegations of being involved in a failed coup attempt.

Their friendship manifested in other ways too. The almost 2 000km Tanzania Zambia Railway connecting the two countries is viewed by many as a symbol of the friendship between the two leaders and their people.

The passing of Kaunda has left many in Tanzania debating the ideals he stood for, including dreams of a united Africa.

– Additional reporting by Isaac Lukando.