South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent a congratulatory message to Zambia’s founding president and ‘liberation hero’ Kenneth Kaunda as he celebrated his 95th birthday.
In a message to the Zambian High Commission (embassy) in Pretoria on Sunday, 28 April 2019, Ramaphosa said “the selfless attributes that Kaunda embodies, which propelled him to continue the fight against imperialism, colonialism, and apartheid – and his notable heroic sacrifices that contributed to South Africa’s political freedom and the emancipation of other countries in the region and beyond – are highly admired.
“On behalf of the government of South Africa, the people, and indeed on my own behalf, we join you and your family, the people of Zambia, Africa, and the world at large, Your Excellency [Kaunda], in celebrating your 95th birthday.
“We remain indebted to the contributions you have made in your lifetime towards the liberation of our country and the SADC [Southern African Development Community] region.
“Please accept my warm, personal best wishes for your good health — and may God Almighty continue to grant you unparalleled longevity,” Ramaphosa said.
As South Africa celebrated its 25th year of liberation on 27 April 2019, the Freedom Day milestone brought to the fore, fond recollections of those who contributed to our country’s freedom.
“High among these being the iconic founding father of liberation in the region, in the person of Dr Kaunda, whose great leadership and formidable conviction remain a source of inspiration to the current and later generations, to jealously guard this freedom gained through many years of struggle,” the president said.
Kaunda ruled Zambia for 27 years until 1991. During this period, Lusaka hosted the head office of the banned African National Congress until 1990 when the movement and its leader Oliver Tambo returned to South Africa negotiate for a new constitution and later contested the 1994 elections that ushered in Nelson Mandela to the presidency.