PSL CHAIRMAN’S TRIBUTE – THE LATE DR KENNETH KAUNDA – FORMER PRESIDENT OF ZAMBIA

Sona Balakhchyan
It isn’t easy to see the legacy and life of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda as a global figure through the tabulation of events that he took part in during his time on this planet.

 This grossly limiting outlook misses the most crucial contribution of life to shape and determine the fate of nations and the entire world.

He was a pioneering figure and a change-precipitating influence, which earned him an uncommon honor. He was one of the very few people who have started many movements throughout his life.

1964 saw the liberation of Zambia, which introduced the world to the work of a unique human being. He was a catalyst that would bring about change far beyond his presidency of the independent nation. It was a tsunami. KK would become both a platform as well as an interlocutor. 

The KK tidal waves were born. The liberation from Zambia was a model, inspiration, and fuel for the liberation movement in Southern Africa. Because of its impact on the environment, the KK-wave was successful.

All those who disagreed with KK would be immediately labeled as unreasonably warmongers by the world. Because KK had an equal influence on warring factions, a political agreement was accepted because it was KK’s. The credible KK platform will ensure that compromises made by warring parties are not rescinded.

The KK tidal waves did not recede with the liberation in South Africa. It didn’t diminish with his defeat. His longevity and his age did not make it less. It was the opposite. The liberation in Lusaka of the roots of Southern Africa created a unique space for Dr. Kenneth Kaunda and Zambia in Africa and the World. KK’s graceful departure from power helped advance democracy and ushered into a multiparty democracy, a replacement for the one-party state system that emerged from liberation. KK rose to prominence as a world interlocutor. His services were required to ensure fairness and freedom in elections all over the globe. His support was sought by rights groups worldwide for mediation and counsel in a variety of causes, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The strength and endurance of KK’s tidal waves are due to their roots in humanity. KK was aware of the accessibility and participation aspect of this beautiful game. He was able to see the importance of football both on and off the pitch. It takes place outdoors in the open. There are no barriers to entry. KK was available to the power, influence, and organization that football brought. He found a way to connect to the grassroots through football. He made sure that every fixture of Chipolopolo, domestic and international, started at State House, where he shared a meal with the Team. It meant that a bit of boy child from the most rural part of Zambia could have it in a few years. “Breakfast with the President before national duty”

The KK’s tidal waves have directly benefited South African soccer. After being identified by Mr. Doug Sammons, the football scout, in 1967, Mr. Kaizer Mtaung was the first beneficiary from the KK tidal waves. He was sent to Zambia for his final assessment and played for Mufulira Blackpool. He received raving praises. He made an impact in America after he moved to America. The winds of change were looming. The soccer leadership of South Africa met with the exiled ANC leadership.

South African soccer scholars will never forget Zambian soccer players’ profound influence on the game. It all began in the 1960s with Copper Belt Team’s arrival to South Africa. Two of their most outstanding players remained at Moroka Swallows Football Club.

In South Africa, the introduction of Zambian football talent was already a significant phenomenon when Orlando Pirates Football Club won the first gold star under Ronald Mkhandawire, a Zambian Coach.

Dynamos Football Club was a dominant force, including players from the Zambian National Team. Wisdom Mumba Chansa was a close friend of Kalusha Biwalya and was a prominent player in the Dynamos team at home when tragedy struck.

Kalusha Bwalya was the survivor of the accident and was a shining light for Zambian soccer around the world. As if representing his team members’ spirit, he won the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon as the coach of Zambia’s National Team.

One cannot forget Albert Bwalya, who tormented Orlando Pirates during all derbies, Dennis Lota, Isaac Chansa, and many other players who were integral parts of the Orlando Pirates Football Club over the years.

The goal-scorers Chris Katongo of Jomo Cosmos Collins Mbesuma (Kaizer Chiefs) captured the glorious moments. Wisdom Nyirenda, also from Kaizer Chiefs, was there to capture the action.

KK is a tidal wave for Zambian soccer, but his love for the beautiful game was more than its nation-building power. He was a passionate follower of the game. He spent more time in South Africa during the nineties and followed the PSL, Bafana-Bafana, and even attended a few matches.

KK was a lover of life, and he loved to be loved. He was proud to show that his old age wasn’t hindering his physical fitness.

We will never forget the white handkerchief he wore in his hand.

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