Back to top

Tribute by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the funeral of Dr Kenneth Kaunda, former President of the Republic of Zambia

The Kaunda Family,
Your Excellency, President Edgar Lungu, Your Excellencies and Majesties, Esteemed Guests,
The great people of the Republic of Zambia,

South Africa joins the people of Zambia and all the peoples of our continent in mourning the passing of our great leader and father.

Dr Kenneth David Buchizya Kaunda was a loyal friend of the South African people. He stood by us during our long struggle for liberation.
Even as the brutal apartheid regime sought to wreak havoc in the Frontline States in its efforts to destroy the liberation movement, Dr Kaunda stood firm, and never wavered in his support for the people of South Africa and the region.

Zambia provided us with material and moral support, and gave refuge to our leaders.

South Africa is grateful we could acknowledge Dr Kaunda’s great role in our struggle for freedom during his lifetime.

In 2002 he was bestowed with one of our highest national orders, The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in Gold.

Today is the passing of an era.

Dr Kaunda was one of the last surviving leaders of the generation who lit the path to Africa’s freedom from colonial misrule.

He has left us, but we know that what he stood for, the standard of leadership he set, and his progressive ideals, live on.

Dr Kaunda was a man for all seasons.

As a freedom fighter he led the liberation movement to victory and independence.
As a President he led with humility and selflessness. He walked among the people.

He refused to surround himself with the trappings of power and influence.

He was a man of extraordinary empathy.

He was often moved to tears of compassion against injustice.

He was an elder statesman who even after leaving office played an important role in national life, advocating for important causes like HIV/Aids, peace and conflict resolution.

He was a lifelong pan-Africanist who worked to advance African unity and integration. He loved young people.

He wrote of how being among youth always filled him with humility and respect.

He called on Africa’s youth to work hard, to reject lives of idleness and vice, and to be part of nation-building, saying: “The fate of this country is in their hands.”

He was a champion of African self-reliance.

We draw strength and inspiration for this now more than ever, as we find ourselves in the grip of a deadly pandemic.

He would be proud to see us working together to bring a recovery to our continent that is rooted in compassion and human dignity.

Like the mighty and noble African fish eagle that adorns the national flag of Zambia, Comrade KK has soared into the sunset.

He has left a Zambia proud and free.

He has left an Africa united and strong.

In taking forward his legacy, let it be that Dr Kaunda’s teachings on compassion, empathy and dignity are Africa’s gift to humankind.

And that in the words of Steve Bantu Biko, it is we, the peoples of Africa, who bestow on the world a more human face.

Tiyende Pamodzi nimu ntima umo.

Let us go forward, one heart, one spirit, united.

Let us go forward, for equality, for justice, for human prosperity, and for a better Africa and a better world.
I thank you.