Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo says the death of Zambia’s founding father and long-term leader, Kenneth Kaunda, has ended a long list of African leaders who fought colonialism and took over the reins of power at independence.
Kaunda died on Thursday at the age of 97.
Obasanjo in a statement he issued on Thursday evening, said he had barely touched down in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, when he was welcomed with the “sad news of the death of the first President of the Republic of Zambia.”
Recalling his visit to Kaunda in 2015 in Lusaka, the Zambia capital, he said they discussed a wide range of issues affecting Africa.
But, he said the late Kaunda was disappointed at how the continent had fared despite the sacrifices of the freedom fighters in Africa.
Obasanjo said, “I asked him if the Africa that we have today is the Africa for which he and his contemporaries struggled and fought. President Kaunda was visibly pained in his response and at some point he broke down and wept. It was obvious to me how disappointed he was about some of the challenges that have plagued our continent for decades since independence.”
He noted that Kaunda’s death should remind Africans of the vision of a free, strong, united and prosperous continent the pioneer leaders had for the people.
“Let us, African leaders and people, never let the labour of these heroes’ past be in vain,” he said.
Obasanjo urged all Africans and friends of Africa to “take solace in the knowledge that President Kaunda has gone home to a well-deserved rest and to proudly take his place beside his brothers such as Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal, Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, Ahmed Sékou Touré of Guinea, Félix Houphouët-Boigny of Côte d’Ivoire, Patrice Lumumba of Congo, Nelson Mandela of South Africa to name but a few.
“All of them, without exception, were nationalists who made sacrifices in diverse ways.”