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Speech by His Excellency Dr. Kennith Kaunda

His Excellency Dr. Kennith Kaunda

Former President of Zambia &

Geoffery Clifton Brown MP

On: A Speech and Conversation With Geoffrey Clifton Brown MP

8th June 2009

GRACE (composed by the Rev. John Papworth for this occasion)

Lord beholds us with thy blessing, gathered here to do honor to a great African statesman. May we be strengthened to emulate the keen sense of duty and disinterested public service he has so richly demonstrated throughout his many years of high office in devoted concern for others; and as we partake of the fruits of Thy creation this evening in fellowship with him, make us ever mindful of the plight of those many who continue so tragically to suffer hunger and privation in so many lands across the world. AMEN.

Lord Dykes: “His Excellency Kenneth Kaunda, former president of Zambia a great son of Africa, a great man of Africa, we are absolutely thrilled that you are with us now sir, we thank you for coming.

My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, the High Commissioner from Zambia, distinguished members and guests, tonight we will have a conversazione, presided over by my distinguished parliamentary colleague from the other part of Parliament (Geoffrey Clifton Brown MP), and by the way one that is very unfairly persecuted if I may be so bold to say (laughter; NB Lord Dykes is a Liberal Democrat). Justin Glass, we thank you and your team for all your organization but we deliberately arranged this very special occasion to take people’s minds off British politics! (laughter).

Geoffrey Clifton Brown MP: “Your Excellency, my Lords, Ladies Gentlemen, it is a great honour and privilege to have you with us sir, your Excellency, former president of Zambia, one of the giants of world politics and it is my enormous privilege to have a conversation with you. The idea is for you to do the talking and I’m just going to give you a little prompt, rather than give a formal speech. I’m sure that we are, from my conversation over dinner and my previous conversation with his Excellency, not going to be disappointed.”

Dr. Kenneth Kaunda: “Before you start, may I misbehave? Mr. Chairman, my young man, my wife should have been here, because we’ve been married now for 63 years. And whenever she is not where you are supposed to be, I sing for her!  I’ll sing for her in her absence, the song I sang when I was courting her many years ago. (Dr. Kaunda sang: I remember the light in your eyes, and the …. Night in your arms under the pagan …dreaming away on a pillow of palms ….Every kiss was as sweet as a pagan prayer to your eyes, your lips and your hair…. At the finish, there was a rousing cheer) 

Geoffrey Clifton Brown MP: “When I last meet the president, the next day he was off to see the Queen on his 85th birthday. I can’t think of two better elder statesmen to have a conversation about what’s happened in the world the last three, four and five decades.

 So within the confines – we have a slight confine this evening, his Excellency is writing his autobiography, and there maybe some things he doesn’t wish to reveal – my job is to get him to reveal, amongst friends, just amongst friends. So can we start your Excellency with your early life? Your parents spent a lot of time in Scotland; your father was an ordained priest; you were just an ordinary teacher. At some point something in your life sparked something so that you ceased being just that ordinary teacher, wanting to achieve something for your country.

 You then went into trying to change your country taking it away from colonial rule; you were imprisoned; you had a civil disobedience struggle and eventually you achieved independence. Can you describe something about that earlier life, what was it that changed you from Kenneth Kaunda, the teacher, to Kenneth Kaunda, the politician, to Kenneth Kaunda the President of an independent Zambia?”

Dr. Kenneth Kaunda: “My father came from Nyasaland, taught by that great missionary, Dr. Laws from at a place called the Mission. My father was one of the few being educated, and in one year, 1904, a number were sent to various parts of the continent of Africa. My father was sent to a placed called Luwa in Zambia. When he went there he preached the Christian message for three months. The ruler liked the message, and said to him “Young man, go back where you came from, get married and then come back here with a wife, and continue teaching this powerful message of the Christian life.” He obeyed, because orders are given to be obeyed.

He rushed back to Nyasaland and was there for a year; he married my mother, and they went back together to this place called Luwa and there they started preaching the message. They were there until the Reverend Richard McMillan from Scotland joined them in 1918. Now their influence on me was such that I grew up following the importance of this message. We were taught to love God your Creator with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and with all your strength. This is how we are linked to Him who made us in his own image. I found that this message about us, all of us, here.

In Zambia there are 73 ethnic groups, and different tribes; while we were there, about ten other tribes – the English tribe, the Scottish tribe, the Irish tribe, the Jewish tribe, the Indian tribe, and the Pakistani tribe (laughter) – 73 old ones eight new ones, and if we needed to understand the meaning of a second commandment, ‘Love thy neighbour as thou lovest thyself’. What does that mean? It means doing unto others as you would have done unto you. Ladies and Gentlemen, I have found this message extremely powerful, extremely important.

This is how in Zambia, we began fighting for our independence. We began with a chanted statement by the leader of the chorus, ‘One Zambia’ and the rest replies ‘one nation’, ‘one Zambia’ ‘one nation’ ‘one Zambia’ ‘one nation’. We found a nation across the country, north, west, east, south. All of us, we’re His children, and regardless of colour, regardless of even faith, we are human, and we still love God the Creator, our creator. This creed of ‘love your neighbour’ is ‘across colour’; your neighbour is ‘across tribe’, and your neighbour is ‘across anything’.

Because our brothers and sisters in the Middle East have failed to understand the importance of this message (look at what happens). At one time, God said “Abram you are no longer going to be called Abram, now you are going to be called Abraham; you will be father of many nations.” Today our brothers in the Middle East have failed to understand the meaning of this. What do they do? They fight. The Muslims are calling Abraham their father, the Jews are referring to Abraham as their father, the Christians are referring to Abraham as their father, all of them are committed to one father! We have failed to appreciate that each one of us is made in God’s image.

Wherever this message is not accepted, there is conflict, and there is fighting. Here in Britain where the problem was between the Irish nations, some say the Catholics are purer than the Protestants, others vice versa, and they’ve been fighting. But thank God that these things have been resolved.

 In the Middle East there are still problems there, between the Sunnis and the Shiites, they’ve been fighting since the beginning and they are unable to understand the message of ‘Love thy neighbour’ and ‘Do unto others as you would have done unto you’. My Lord Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, in Zambia we thank God that He made it possible for us to understand the meaning that each of us was made in God’s image. So we have no fighting between our tribes in Zambia; no fighting between the Muslim area, Jewish area, and Christian area. It is because of the acceptance of this powerful message by the Lord, “Love God the creator with all your soul, with your entire mind, with all your strength.” That is how we reach out towards each other. We do not allow that faith becomes artificial, if we suspect colour becomes artificial, if we suspect tribes become artificial all of us could not have come together in Zambia under the leadership of our leaders, who brought us together. Also, women might be respected – they give birth to men and do so after much pain; and they are the people who matter to us when we are young.”

Geoffrey Clifton Brown MP: “So let’s move on a little… With deep religious conviction, you then threw yourself into the freedom fight, gained independence in 1964, and you became, for the next 27 years, one of Africa’s longest serving leaders, inheriting a very difficult situation, a very poor country, very little education and you embarked on the first and second development plan and you even developed a new creed, Zambian humanism. But in 1975 the economy collapsed and you were faced with a huge economic crisis and the IMF was called in. You managed to get rid of the IMF, and get beyond that phase. Would you just say something about your 27 years as the undisputed leader of Zambia, indeed the only leader of Zambia during those 27 years?”

Dr. Kenneth Kaunda: “Naturally, we faced many problems, 70 years of British rule, we found our way out.  After 70 years of British rule, we found only three medical doctors in the country out of a hundred graduates and so we thought it would be profitable for us to stress the importance of education. With the  money from copper reserves that we found, we decided to invest in education, We made education free for so many of our population before university and that helped us a lot because that meant that we were developing the ability of young men and women to stand upright and be counted in terms of helping their country.

We did that and built many schools throughout the country, 70 schools, and they made others. Education was key, very important; we built the university teaching hospital of Zambia, where our doctors are trained and even today, I can’t think of any other nation on the continent of Africa that has got doctors scattered all over in Southern Africa as much as we have. The next thing was to have communication; from the heart of Zambia we built telephone systems to all regional capitals, and from regional capitals we built railroads. What was already there were mainly those left by the British colonial power. They were there and we built on them in order to reach out to people. For the outlying districts we built roads, from the capital of the district to the centres of development. And of course agriculture is very important. We spent a lot of time and money on agriculture.

I spent 27 years in power. Why?

The elections were right, but I stood myself and the reason for this is this question again of “Love thy neighbour as thou lovest thy self.” Nehru, a great student of Gandhi, but a great Indian leader and international leader, was an inspiration but we chose to go the way of Ghandi who fought for Indian independence. Ghandi hoped for a similar struggle in South Africa and said “ When you are fighting British colonialism, you must think of fighting using pacific methods but when you are fighting other colonial powers it is not the same so we fought using the gun there for our independence. Thank God we knew that that would not happen in Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, because of the all the British settlers.

Look elsewhere, look what happened to Africa …so we leant support to our colleagues who were fighting for their independence using guns and weapons. From South Africa, from Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, all the liberation movements cut through Zambia, where we helped them to go to Tanzania, where they had a great African leader, Julius Kambarage Nyerere, who gave them succour. As soon as we became independent, Zambia was born.

It became useful for them to go through Zambia, because Zambia was nearer to their place of fighting, so – what happens? –  we were being bombed by South African forces, being bombed by these forces because of keeping liberation people on our soil. But we understood the message, “Love thy neighbour as thou lovest thyself,’ and  ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ As they would do unto us, we did unto them, so we sang songs this way to unite ourselves in Zambia, then we sang songs right across into Zimbabwe, we sang song to cross over in South Africa.

Thank God we succeed, because today these countries are free, and we are happy that the good Lord God Almighty has made it possible. We did all that without hatred, without hatred for opposing forces or peoples. Our fight was just and therefore we couldn’t fight on the basis of hatred, no. I am glad to say with Mandela we helped … to get him out of prison. What did he do? He preached peace in South Africa.

 When Mugabe took over in Zimbabwe, what happened? He preached peace. In Mozambique, Machel, in Angola, and so thorough the whole region, we followed this fight for our independence. When Mandela got out of prison, the first country he visited was Zambia. He came to Zambia to say ‘thank you’, to look the people of Zambia in the eye and say, thank you for what you did for us. I was sitting with some leaders, and he said, gesturing me, that ‘if it were not for that man, the Zambian people would not be where they are today’. I said it was not the work of one man but the Zambian people as a whole. I’ve never seen a crowd like that in Zambia, not even for me. (laughter) Huge crowds came out to see Mandela. So the question of love, it is something so important on which I have based my life, I was fortunate that my mother and father were like that, they taught me this message, and everything that I’ve tried to do has been along those lines.”

Geoffrey Clifton Brown MP: “You were always generous to all your neighbours, and in an effort to try and resolve the situation in South Africa you met former President de Klerk. Eventually the struggle was won and Mandela became the first president of a free South Africa. We now have a new president of South Africa, President Zuma, who you haven’t always seen eye to eye with, but we hear now that you have had meetings with him, and you support him. South Africa is the key to resolving matters in southern Africa. How do you see President Zuma helping with problems of South Africa in particular supporting the new Prime Minister of Zimbabwe?”

Dr. Kenneth Kaunda: “I believe that Zuma will be able to perform well. I’ve known him for a long time now and I believe that he has a chance to guide South Africa in the right path. The way he has organized his government shows clearly that he is beginning to appreciate what couldn’t have been known when he was just fighting for independence. Perhaps before I go on to let me say that I met Prime Minister Vorster. At the bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia, we waited for three nights.

As a matter of culture, I said “look what common culture there is between you the Africans and the Portuguese and the English and the Afrikaaners and all of them, you all have one culture.” He went away – he flew all the way from South Africa to Zambia, he came to my country we had quite a few hours of talk there and I thought and said that I can do business with this man; I will talk to them more some day and go there and meet them. What I’m saying is this: there is no question of hatred. … in fact I remember I invited two South African leaders, one from the ministry of  culture and one from that of trade. They came to sit with me and I said, ‘look you must begin tackling these problems of agriculture, problems of land in South Africa now.’ I warned them, they’ve got to invest very well and I hoped they were going to do something, but up till now they’ve done nothing!

So I’m saying these things that we are discussing now, all hinge on one point, the question of love, when you don’t understand the meaning of love between human beings, we have no chance at all. I go back to Ireland, the Irish Christians fighting, now they are at peace, I believe they are at peace, because they have accepted the rule of love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Geoffrey Clifton Brown MP: “I must ask you this, you sadly lost your son to AIDS, you have campaigned hard on the issue; you formed your own charitable foundation. Would you like to say something about how you think the world could help Africa with this problem which is continuing; giving aid and the right way to go about it. Do we need to see a new direction to help Africa with some of it’s deep-seated problems meeting, the millennium goal and so on?”

Dr. Kenneth Kaunda: “Wherever I go at home I’m wearing this shirt fighting AIDS (gestures his T-shirt). I know governments are doing something about it, I’m not sure if its going to be as effective as we would like, but we who are representatives, we are your representative, and we are asking you to help us. Young men agree with me, it’s important that you help us to fight AIDS. When we started the Kenneth Kaunda Children of Africa Foundation, we brought people into our clinic and put them on nutritious foods and antibiotics immediately; they just … so we changed that situation.… My second born son who is a medical doctor spent four years here in Britain with you here and he is guiding us back home.  We put the sufferers on nutritious food that all cost a lot of money; and together it performed wonders. These children, these young men and women, you can see when they come to the clinic, they are thin, they are dying, after a few weeks at our clinic; you can see their pictures looking very well. It is quite something. We would like you to support us, come and see, please loudly or quietly, you are welcome, come and see the dream and then decided how to help us. The whole continent of Africa, Zambia, Angola, Tanzania, South Africa, Mozambique, the whole continent is full of problems and we need your assistance. I can assure you that the money you provide us with for this organization will be well spent.

I can move around anywhere I want to, any time. My president sent me here to meet the Queen. We can all use whatever contributions you may make to our honest cause, we need that, those many children are dying in the streets of Africa, they are kids there who need our attention, we need to work together this challenge which I leave in the hands of all rich people and their friends on the continent to Europe. They have invited me and I’ve got to tell you what I’m doing – and I’ve told you.’

Geoffrey Clifton Brown MP:  “I would love to ask you about your meetings with Saddam Hussein, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and President Reagan, some of the great statesmen and leaders of the world but time is brief.  It would be fascinating. Some of those meetings with President Regan, with Archbishop Desmond Tutu; it would be very interesting to hear your thoughts about them”.

Dr. Kenneth Kaunda: “I met Saddam Hussein in a wonderful way. I’d said to him and his colleagues that ‘you are all producers of oil, and you take your oil and you sell it to those who can use it against you. And yet your people are poverty-sticken!’ He said to me, ‘you better come and see what we do’

The people of Europe and the Middle East have plenty of fuel and plenty of money, but when you spend your money fighting me, … America, Israel, I use that money against you! So in the evening of that night, he invited me aboard and I went.  He said now what you said is right about oil money and I want you to come and see what I am doing in Iraq, and I went.  I found that he had spent quite a good bit of money on programmes, roads and so forth. I was happy, then I heard that he was going to invade Kuwait, I said “My friend, don’t do this; it is wrong”, he said “No, No, No, we are going to win”, I said “No, its not a question of winning, it’s a question of whether is right or wrong” However you know how it ended.  It’s a sad thing that it ended that way; if he could have listened to some of his friends, it might have helped people a lot. I’m hoping to go into more detail when I write my memoirs (laughter)

Geoffrey Clifton Brown MP: “I’m going to go to Dele Ogun to ask the first question.”

Dele Ogun (The Genesis Project – Think Tank for Nigeria): “Mr President thank you very much for your presentation so far. I’m from Nigeria. In Nigeria we have 250 ethnic groups, we too had a “one Nigeria, one nation” programme. Do you think that Nigeria can achieve what you achieved in Zambia with “one Zambia, one nation”

Dr. Kenneth Kaunda: Thank you, Nigeria has always been very close to my heart. In 1977 I wanted to fly from Zambia to a village in Nigeria. I told the Nigerian Prime Minister that we are planning our civilian programme and how we were doing it and he said you are not the first person to tell me this, he met the prime minister of Britain, Callaghan, he said he had met Callaghan in Kano. I was there only a few weeks ago to open the Kenneth Kaunda Children of Africa Foundation fighting AIDS. He received me very well, and God willing I’m going back in August to stand by the programme of fighting AIDS in Nigeria. – With every hope that the man who is there now goes ahead with how he is doing it, and then there is hope for Nigeria.”

Bill Cash, MP: “I have had the pleasure of meeting you several times. I was on the old party parliamentary committee on Africa, including Uganda, and Tanzania. I just would like to ask you if you could tell us what the Elder Statesmen of Africa really think of the situation in Africa, and the Zimbabwe in particular, and the grabbing of land from the white settlers.”

Dr. Kenneth Kaunda:  “I’ll try to be brief but this is a very limited time. The British and we felt together there was a lot of resistance in that corner of the federation. Ten years later, we come and find out what was happening in that part of the world. Ten years after the commission met, Rhodesia became Zambia, Nyasaland became Malawi, Zimbabwe was then born, and we had independence. The British Prime Minister came and said “Don’t worry about this, it’s a matter of weeks and months.” … I said “I’m grateful”. ….

Margaret Thatcher made a wonderful decision, and we said we are going to hold elections for Zimbabwe in April of next year;, we agreed on this.

Please don’t forget the question of land, they all agreed; we won and Mugabe did say that he wouldn’t touch the settlers and he followed the example of Mandela, our example of Zambia,the  example in the media everywhere … not touching anything at all so again we won,  and then what happened? Margaret Thatcher, my dancing partner (laughter) began following up on that … in London and said, we’ll handle that from here, alright, and there will be compensation? And it was fine, and when John Major took over this agreement was continued, land and then when Tony Blair, the first socialist, came… I kept saying please don’t colonize my government …don’t touch the land for 10 years. That was in 1980 but in 1990 and the election and Tony Blair tore up the agreement including on that very important question of compensation …”

Lord Chigdey: “Just recently the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Commonwealth was celebrated in London, attended by Her Majesty the Queen and representatives from all the commonwealth countries.  Your time as President of Zambia spanned the major part of the commonwealth’s existence. I would just like to hear, if I might, some reflections from you from your past experiences on where you see the future for the Commonwealth.”

Dr. Kenneth Kaunda: “The Commonwealth has the future I believe, much will depend on what will come from our leaders. I was very happy to see that, when I came here to represent Zambia that every nation was here represented, and I knew it please Queen Elizabeth a lot as she loves the commonwealth.  So I believe that the Commonwealth has the future, but much of course – just like every other organization – depends on our leaders themselves. I can’t see anyone in the Commonwealth having a reason for disturbing it and wanting to leave the Commonwealth.”

Lord Judd: “President Kaunda, way back 40 years ago some of us were privileged to have quite a number of discussions with you. I’ve often been asked what about our values and about legacy, …Have you got a message for us today as we look towards the future about the of that thinking that went into African Union, for our situation in the industrialized world?”

Dr. Kenneth Kaunda: “Mr. Chairman, I believe that God is looking at His World with a lot of tenderness and kindness. There is a young man called Obama, who has come to lead America – and please remember the elections are not by black people in America, millions of white people voted for him, and he knows that and he says wonderful things about all sorts of problems. He has spoken about to the Middle East. I’ve just come from there. And I am so happy that the conference of the G20 in London, Britain, everyone comes and look at the problems that we are facing, and they came together, Obama, Gordon Brown here this man in France, that young woman in Germany, we have each other in this world … and the pressures we are facing because of this economic problems we’ve had, and the whole world is affected. Obama, Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel. I’m hopeful gentlemen that something beautiful is going to happen something with these young people.”

The Rt. Hon. Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean(Vote of Thanks): “We have had the most extraordinary evening this evening. My heartfelt thanks goes to you, Mr. President, for being with us, it’s been a tremendous honour having you here. I have to say that I liked you last remark, that the 50-somethings are the young people of the future generation. (laughter) I would like to have my thanks to the staff here for doing such an excellent dinner, and to Justin and all his staff at the E-AG for putting this together. Mr. Past-President, I don’t think I’ve ever sat in a room with a President, present or past, who sang so wonderfully! (cheers) I thought what a wonderful song, what a wonderful voice, and what a lucky woman! Mr. Past-President may I, on behalf of the E-AG offer you a tie, to wear with your beautiful shirt, so next time you sing to your lady you wear the tie. (laughter)

Further, you gave us a wonderful description from your earlier years of the inspiration of your father and your father’s teachings to you through the years. I think you spoke so eloquently of the themes of ‘Love thy neighbour as thy self’ and this shone through everything you that you said, and what a very potent message that is for us, in regard to what is happening in the world today. You mentioned particularly the Middle East and of course your words about Mr. Obama, I think, struck home to all of us particularly in light of the extraordinary speech he gave last week in Cairo.

Twenty-seven years as the president is an extraordinary record, the experience you have had in putting together a lifetime’s work, has shown through everything you’ve been talking about this evening. Your message about AIDS I think also has struck home to many of us. We all, I think, tend to forget that AIDS is still the most dreadful disease around the world. We all tend to get a little preoccupied with the momentary Swine Flu, and we forget that there are millions of people still dying on the continent of Africa from this terrible disease that needs much, much greater effort and you’ve brought that message home to us very strongly today. Again what you said about the strong faith in what is right; fighting for a just struggle, and the way your life has been devoted to that.

Thank you as well about what you said about the Commonwealth – thank you to Bill Cash as well for bringing that up. I think that the message about the Commonwealth is an extraordinarily important one, and one that we sometimes forget in the great circle of world power, just what a force for good the commonwealth can be. You spoke with great passion and you spoke with enormous eloquence, and you talked about tenderness and kindness and you talked about faith, and those are not often things that we hear statesmen talking about these days, and they are important factors when we deal with international relations. So, Sir, thank you very much for a wonderful evening, a wonderful exhibition that you put together and for being such a superb speaker for us.  It’s been a tremendous evening, Thank you.”