Friday, September 28, 2012

A long farewell to Comrade Betty

A long farewell to Comrade Betty
By The Post
Fri 28 Sep. 2012, 12:30 CAT

The days pass, each year giving birth to its successor. What has passed becomes the past as time erodes the memory of what was living experience.

In their recalling, old joys expand into enlarged pleasure. Old wounds fade away into forgotten scars or linger on as quiet pain without a minder.

Those who give generously their lives, their talents to lighten our moments of darkness, do not want the embarrassment of the enthusiasm of our gratitude.

Those who brought us intolerable pain and took away our days of light insist that nothing should be recalled, lest we impose on them the pain of guilt and on ourselves the pain of our memories. And so what was slides away as though it never was.

Comrade Betty Kaunda suffered a lot. She bore the scars of our independence struggle and those of the liberation struggles of our entire region. We talk of the sufferings she went through as a mother and as a wife of the supreme leader of our independence struggle as if it was such a small thing. We talk about her charcoal burning undertakings as if it was such a small thing. All has passed as though it never was.

Comrade Betty had to endure long periods of time waiting for her incarcerated husband, imprisoned comrade. She had to fend, single-handedly, for her children. She had to endure all those long days and nights without Comrade KK, who was in prison. All lingers on only as a nightmarish image of what might have been.

Comrade Betty suffered and suffered quietly. Even after our independence, keeping the family together and participating in many national activities with all quietness and humility was still not such an easy thing and small thing. All has passed, as though it never was.

In the last few years we have congregated at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross with greater frequency to bid farewell to the heroes and heroines of our independence struggle, the founders of our Republic, the builders of our nation, paying our last respects to the fallen heroes and heroines of our nation from a generation now reaching the end of a long and heroic struggle. Again, those from that generation, who are singled out to stay the longest, have to bear the pain of seeing their comrades go. One after the other, the stars that brightened the firmament of a generation have been extinguished. Time has swallowed up our heroes and heroines.

Not anywhere in this country stand a statue and a monument which speak to us and all future time to say - once upon a time, our country was blessed to have as its citizens these who, though dead, are brought to life by every day's dawn that portends fulfilment for all the people of our homeland. They too slide into the past as though they never were.

Today, Comrade Betty lies in her small house of wood, cold and still and without a voice. When she passed on, yet another great Zambian heart ceased to beat. While she lived, she refused to allow her people to be abused, to be humiliated, to be oppressed in all sorts of ways. She elected to oppose those who sought personal benefit by abusing the people and their resources. And last year she took a quiet but very strong political stand against the corrupt, the abusers and ensured that they left the stage.

She gave those who were downtrodden and despised pride in themselves as glorious human beings, by instilling in them the knowledge that they held the gift of progress in their hands.

Today, Comrade Betty lies in her small house of wood, cold and still and without a voice.
Comrade Betty spoke quietly of hope, of human dignity, of the cruel eras of small-minded people scared of their own shadows, of the magnanimity of those who were mistreated by those who claimed to be born-again.

She worked quietly to persuade us to understand the cruel eras of the small-minded people, teaching us to assert our own humanity by respecting the rights of all our people to life, liberty and happiness. She showed us by example that we need no high-sounding titles to discharge our obligation faithfully to serve the masses of our people.

Even as some sought to present her and her husband and comrade as objects of ridicule, those of us who knew who they were and what was their worth to the masses of our people, determined that we, like them, would continue to be informed by our knowledge and consciences rather than the voices of those who sought to play various and insensitive games.

Today, Comrade Betty lies in her small house of wood, cold and still and without a voice.

While she lived, her humility, her self-effacing ways, her constant humour, her loyalty to principle, the certainty her very being carried of the inevitability of the realisation of our hopes, brought light and joy to our days of despair. The gods themselves would lose their patience with us if we permitted that time should persuade us that this jewel on our crown has lost its sparkle, merely because the soil we tread will have taken into its bosom the small wooden house that Comrade Betty now occupies.

Whatever the direction we turn our ears, the same message reaches us - the struggle that Betty and her comrades started and waged for the total liberation of our people is not yet complete. It is still aluta continua!

The voices that come at us from the great expanses of our beautiful land tell us that we must assert that what was, was.

The lived experiences of the times that have passed are to us and to future generations very valuable. The heroes and heroines, whom Comrade Betty has joined, like her, live among us, fighters still for the liberation of all our people. The cause for which they fought, sacrificed and lived has not run its course. We still have many challenges - poverty, hunger, disease, ignorance and so on and so forth.
Today, Comrade Betty rests in her small house of wood, cold and still and without a voice. And yet we can hear her as she says:

Do not allow the shadows to deceive you nor the long road you have to travel, to discourage you! Refuse that selfishness should take possession of your hearts and minds and deprive you of what is most precious to us - the lived gift of humanism! Listen carefully to the strident voice of your adversaries and continue to strive as you have done over countless years, to remain loyal to what is good and just! Above all, as you call for God's benediction in the interest of our homeland and the masses of our people, act together to free the peoples of our continent from oppression, from war, from poverty, from greed, from lies, deceit, humiliation and contempt!

Today, Comrade Betty rests in her small house of wood, cold and still and without a voice.
Today, we all join Comrade KK, Comrade Betty's husband, their sons and daughters, their grandchildren and great grandchildren and the rest of the family, to put to rest a patriot who was to all of us variously, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a colleague, a comrade and a leader.

All of us say, together, thank you for being what you have been. We say thank you, twatotela, luitumezi, zikomo, twasanta, tunasakilili, tunasakilila, twalumba for the way you have enriched all our lives.

We appeal to you that you bear with us that we might not have understood as well as we should have, how much what you thought and said and did gave meaning and direction to our own lives.

Tell those whom you join that, whatever the problems, still we progress.

Farewell dear comrade! Rest in peace!

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