Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fidel is a great man, says KK

By Larry Moonze in Havana, Cuba
Fri 07 June 2013, 14:01 CAT

DR Kenneth Kaunda has said Fidel Castro is a great man and a very great friend of his. And Dr Kaunda says Zambia would have plunged into ethnic and religious conflicts after independence like other African nations had he not united the 73 ethnic groups under One Zambia One Nation.

Addressing Zambian students and others when he visited Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Havana on Wednesday, Dr Kaunda told the students that as they become doctors of science and conscious, they must uphold the principles of togetherness and seek to work for the common humanity and not one race or group of society.

"We can't forget to say to Fidel Castro… I am very proud of that man for the wonderful work he has done to humankind. I'm very proud and that is why we are very great friends to him," he said. "Fidel Castro is a great name all over the world in many ways."

Dr Kaunda told the students that Cuba under the leadership of Fidel helped Africa not only in education, health, engineering and agriculture, but also in the fight against colonialism.

"Fidel Castro sent troops not just anywhere but where they were required because those nations had been invaded by colonialists," he said.

He cited Algeria, Namibia and Angola as such areas where Cuban military assistance was provided to reverse and defeat colonial invaders.

"Young people, I'm proud to meet with you here. It is wonderful to hear young Zambians speak so well in Spanish language. They are learning to become useful citizens of Zambia and the continent of Africa as a whole," he said.

"Let's move together…In Zambia we had 73 ethnic groups, then came the English tribe, Scottish, Pakistani, Indians, Greeks, and others such that we have more than 80 tribes. If we didn't come together, we would be like other parts of the continent where they fought or are fighting according to ethnic, religious, and other such groupings. In Zambia as leaders we thought to move together as One Zambia One Nation regardless tribe, colour, faith or anything like that, with one heart and soul."

He said the 10 Zambian students at ELAM and those in other Cuban universities were learning so that they return home to help their fellow citizens.

"What you are learning here is for your own good to equip you for the future, but more importantly is to serve the people of Zambia. Learn quickly and come back home. They need you, we need you back home," Dr Kaunda said. "When I came to power we provided free education from grade one to university and colleges. We are building, many universities are coming up again to strengthen Zambian education facilities."

He said with education and unity, Zambian youths would be armed to fight poverty, ignorance, disease, corruption, misery, violence and exploitation of man by man.

"When I was fighting for independence, my wife and I stood together. My wife died last year. She was 84 and I'm 89 years," Dr Kaunda said in an emotional tone. "She did wonderful work with me. She did a lot of work. I used to sing for her during our courtship. I still sing the same song today and I will sing it to you now. That is how much I loved her. I still love her today."

Kaoma Musonda, a student, said Zambian students were honoured to receive Dr Kaunda, who formed part of African history for his ideals and principles including his social projects in the health sector.

"As young people studying at ELAM, we want to thank the Cuban government and Cuban people for the opportunity to study medicine on scholarship so that we can become doctors of science and conscience," said Musonda. "We also promise that once we graduate we will return to our country to promote health in the communities that need it and fight to eradicate diseases that affect our country and our continent."

ELAM rector Dr Rafael Gonzalez Ponce de Leon said the university was opened in 1999 following the two hurricanes that ravaged the Caribbean and Central America. He said since Cuban medical personnel was sent to those affected countries, Fidel decided to open a university that could train Latin American and Caribbean youths who would eventually replace those Cuban experts after the recovery process.

ELAM is actually located on what used to be the Cuban Navy Academy, west of the city of Havana.

Dr Gonzalez said ELAM had so far graduated 17,272 medical doctors from 88 countries from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and the Oceania.

He said the training programme was tailored to ensure graduates are ready to work in any community and not just main cities.

"We inculcate a great sense of humanism," Dr Gonzalez said.

He said currently ELAM had 13,282 students from 122 countries across the five continents of the global.

On his part, Dr Kaunda said it was amazing how "fellow human beings could work and execute huge projects to save humanity".

He said Cuba did notconsider one's colour but looked at everyone as a human being.

"We in Zambia and many parts of Africa express our gratitude for the wonderful work you do at this centre of learning," Dr Kaunda said. "Cuba provides for itself as well as all of humanity medical doctors, engineers agriculturalists, mining experts and others. We are grateful to you all and please continue this wonderful work for humankind."

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