Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Zambia as it approaches 50 years of independence
By Editor
Thu 15 Aug. 2013, 14:00 CAT

DR Roland Msiska, Secretary to the Cabinet, has called for a critical reflection on the vision of the founding fathers as Zambia attains 50 years of independence next year.

And Dr Msiska has called for unity of purpose, conviction and desire to go in one direction without splitting on regional, party lines or other factors because the founding fathers saw the importance of unity as a nation.

Close to 49 years ago, we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time has come to redeem our pledge.

It is fitting that as we approach 50 years of independence, we take the pledge of rededication to the service of Zambia and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity. Soon, 50 years will be over since we attained independence. And it is the future that beckons to us now.

That future should not be one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges of our founding fathers. The ambition of our founding fathers has been to wipe out poverty, ignorance,disease, hunger and all other evils associated with these things. That may appear to be beyond us, but as long as these evils are present in our midst, among our people, the work started by our founding fathers will not be over.

And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to give reality to the dreams and vision of our founding fathers.

As Dr Msiska correctly observes, this calls for unity of purpose, conviction and desire to go in that one direction that our founding fathers pointed to us without splitting on regional, party lines or other factors.

This is no time for petty and destructive politics, no time for ill will. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no nation can overcome such gigantic problems whose people are narrow in thought or in action.

One of the cardinal aims and objectives of our founding fathers was to develop ourselves politically, economically, socially, culturally and scientifically, and above all to dedicate themselves to the cause of the common man.

They loved their country; they loved their people. "Zambia is a country of which to be proud and indeed more than that, for which to be thankful to God," declared Dr Kenneth Kaunda on his return from the Commonwealth leaders conference on January 17, 1969.

Fifty years is not a short period in the history of a country. But we are still a very young nation with many challenges. But when it comes to countries, there is nothing like being young or old - a country is simply a country. We have to take responsibility for the destiny of our country: "When a child is born, it must be looked after by other people, but in the case of a nation, it is supposed to be sufficiently adult by the time it attains independence to stand on its own feet. In other words, you cannot say now that Zambia is independent, we are going to look to somebody else or some other nation to look after us.

The moment you decide you are going to be independent, you must be prepared first to face all difficulties on your own. You have no father, no mother, to look after you. You are your own father, your own mother, your own everything" (Dr Kaunda, National Development seminar, Chalimbana, April 7, 1966).

A child born is allowed time to grow. Not so with a country. Zambia cannot wait, especially as it approaches 50 years of independence. Our needs are immediate - and unlimited. This is a sobering thought but an exciting prospect.

We were poor in 1964. We still have many poor people in 2013. We would prefer in this regard to quote the saying of one of the ancient Greeks at a time when his country - in material terms - was still "developing": 'To admit one's poverty is no disgrace with us; but we consider it disgraceful not to make an effort to avoid it.'

Dr Kaunda teaches us that it falls to few generations to share in the task of building a new nation. But this honour carries with it great responsibilities. If we are to live up to the challenge before us, we must cultivate certain essential values: a love of learning, tenacity of purpose, a mind attuned to new ideas, a sense of urgency, respect for the human personality and a dedication to the service of our people.

We need to co-operate with other people to develop our country. But at the end of the day, the responsibility to develop our country rests squarely on our shoulders, and on no one else's. And for this reason and as Dr Kaunda correctly guided, "…a country with a responsible government cannot stand by and let its resources be exploited for the benefit of foreigners alone. We object to having a nation of workers on one hand and capitalist masters on the other. We further reject the establishment of a world in which Zambians will be workers for capitalist masters outside our territory".

And judging by the record of the past 47 years or so, the two most decisive factors affecting the future of our country will be economic development and political leadership. We say this because economic development makes good governance and democracy in general possible; political leadership makes it real.

We should never forget Dr Kaunda's declaration: "We all stand here to establish a just and fair society for Man. Man - you. Man - me. In fighting to establish a fair and just society, we must continue to be as revolutionary as we were during the struggle for independence" (UNIP National Council, Mulungushi, November 9, 1968).

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