Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cuba exalts KK
By Larry Moonze and Kondwani Munyeka in Havana, Cuba
Wed 05 June 2013, 14:01 CAT

CUBA receives you with great admiration and respect, Cuban National Assembly Speaker Esteban Lazo has told Dr Kenneth Kaunda. And Dr Kaunda has said Cuba's aid to Zambia and Africa is priceless.

Receiving Zambia's first Republican president Dr Kaunda, at his office on Monday, Speaker Lazo said when one had talked to Dr Kaunda, they came into contact with history and reality.

He said Dr Kaunda was a symbol of African struggle for independence and an embodiment of the bonds between Cuba and Zambia.

Dr Kaunda listened attentively as Lazo explained that he found it difficult to express in words just how joyful Cuba was to finally receive him to the island after many years.

"A brotherly greeting, an embrace from the bottom of our hearts for a colleague in the struggle for justice, a symbol of the African struggle for independence, you are a symbol for all of Africa, a living symbol for all those African heroes who fought like you and you are also the symbol of the bond between Cuba and Africa and Zambia in particular," Lazo said.

"I have had a chance of meeting you on many occasions and I have always admired you greatly, with a lot of respect and I'm also very fond of you. I know you have been to Cuba many times because you came to see your brother Fidel over the greatest strategy to fight for the poor which is the reason as to why we always welcome you to Cuba with great admiration and respect. We are not just welcoming a leader but the hero representing the Africancontinent. In the recent past, we have been receiving a lot of visitors and we recently met with your foreign affairs minister Effron Lungu and we discussed a number of important issues pertaining to the two countries with the need to strengthen the relations, not just political links but this time economic and other spheres. Having a chance of talking to you gives us the reason of maintaining the history arrived at together with your late wife Betty and many other African leaders like Patrice Lumumba, Laurent Kabila among others."

He said the West underestimated Africa's match towards unity and development.

Lazo said one of the things that the enemies of Africa tried to do was to silence the African struggle by killing its leaders "but here you are as the living example. "

He said he was very pleased that during the 50th anniversary of the OAU and the African Union leaders talked about Pan Africanism (unity) and renaissance to ensure continental development.

Lazo said Cuba was happy that Dr Kaunda denounced economic colonialism.

He said the West had always wanted to be the owners of all the resources that Africa possessed.

"But They cannot do it again because we already have achieved our freedom with arms, with our leaders, our culture and courage," Lazo said.

"But today they are trying to find new ways to dominate us, and they underestimate us and that is why in my Speech to the AU I said the West cannot continue saying Africa cannot develop because what Africa needs is human capital. But instead of helping us what they do is taking away that human capital. Africa needs technology as well and instead of offering that technology they refuse us. They should offer it to Africa… give us all that we need. I saw clear objectives among the agreements that were finalised about the future of Africa which is closely linked to the Diaspora.

And everyone there was saying Cuba has helped Africa as thousands of Cubans fought in Africa and more 350,000 Cubans were in Africa at different moments and currently a lot more are still there offering services in different fields as your friend and brother Fidel Castro said: the only thing that we are doing is settling the debt that we have with humanity.

And most of those Cubans that served and still serve in Africa are the descendants of thousands of slaves that were brought here to Cuba so all in all we can say that we are the same. That's why we can say the formation of Cuban identity is as a result of the African wisdom, culture and courage."

Lazo said while in Addis Ababa, he met and discussed with President Michael Sata.

He said over 100 Zambians had graduated in Cuba in various fields while today some 36 students were studying on Cuban scholarship.
Lazo said over the years a lot of Cubans served in Zambia with the majority of those experts having done so during Dr Kaunda's era.
He said Cuba had very good relations with all African countries and had about 27 embassies on the continent.

"In Cuba there are a lot of African missions as well but we are missing one very important one which is the Zambian embassy, " Lazo said.

"In order to multiply our relations we need you here so that we can have day-to-day talks over how to improve technology, malaria control among others. But now we are proud that the good news has finally come to us which is about opening the embassy. As you might be aware I have spent all my time in the party however on the 24th of February I was elected Speaker of the National Assembly. I'm very new in this office but already having great achievements with your visit being the greatest for me."

Dr Kaunda, who departs Havana on Friday, is accompanied by Zambian envoy to Cuba Bobby Samakai, Cheswa Kaunda Silwizya (First President Office protocol official), his administrative assistant Florence Mukutu, Boniface Mavuto Nkhoma (aide and personal assistant) and grandsons Malume Azim Kaunda and Masuzgo Gwebe Malume.

In his remarks, Dr Kaunda said Lazo was full of wisdom.

"Young man how old are you," he asked his host. Lazo responded 68. Then Dr Kaunda goes on : "Full of wisdom, full experience, full commitment following Fidel Castro's programmes and activities."
He said Cuba and Zambia had come together a long way.

Dr Kaunda said when the West called "Fidel Castro and all of you ugly names we stood by you because we know where we come from and all we have in common. "He said Zambia was very grateful for what Cuban had done for Africa and in particular Zambia.

"What Cuba has done to assist us fight against colonialism, imperialism is something we value most. You are 68, still a very young man and I am just 89, an old young man! We stand together and are still ready to continue to fight and we are proud of you.

What you have done for our education, health services, agriculture, and engineering is priceless and all these among others are very important aspects in the growth of our economy."

Dr Kaunda recognised Cuba's role in the independence struggle for Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.

"Where would we be by now if Cuba did not give a hand to these African countries in the fight for their freedom?" he asked. "How can we thank you sufficiently except to come here and tell your people to continue the fight."

Meanwhile, Dr Kaunda who arrived on Sunday in Havana from Canada praised Ottawa and African diplomats for the invitation and good reception.

Dr Kaunda also thanked President Michael Sata for allowing him to visit Canada and deliver the President's goodwill message to Canadian Prime Minister which he did through foreign minister John Baird.

He thanked Baird, Veterans Affairs minister Steven Blaney, parliamentarians, Senator Mobina Jaffer for organising his visit to the Canadian Senate where the Senate session was temporally suspended to pay tribute to him for his role in ending apartheid and colonialism in Africa. It was the first time the Senate of Canada temporarily suspended deliberations for a visiting African leader.

Dr Kaunda said the visit to the Senate cheered him greatly and he appreciated the statement read in the Senate recognising his role in the fight against colonialism and other injustices in Africa. On Saturday, Dr Kaunda met the Zambian community in Canada and mission staff at the Official residence of the Zambian High Commission.

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