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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 27, New Delhi, June 19, 2021

Kenneth Kaunda: The Passing of an African Giant | Anil Nauriya

Friday 18 June 2021, by Anil Nauriya


Kenneth Kaunda, a giant of the 20th Century, has passed away. He stood in the first line of African liberation struggles and his going marks the end of an era. It is a great loss to Zambia of course, but also to Africa as a whole and to India and the world. He was a tower of strength in Africa-India relations. Growing up in the 1960s in India meant growing up under the moral shadow, not only of our own struggle for freedom represented by such figures as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Azad, but also of colossi like Kenneth Kaunda, Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah, Albert Luthuli and Julius Nyerere. The names of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo, which were already in the air, would join that great pantheon in later decades.

As mentioned in my book (The African Element in Gandhi), Kenneth Kaunda, who would later become President of Zambia, started in the 1940s his search for a road to the freedom of his people. African struggles would follow multiple paths. The writer Fergus Macpherson records a conversation in early 1947 with Kenneth Kaunda, then in his mid-twenties : "The ’nonviolent positive action‘ of Mahatma Gandhi, he said, was perhaps the answer..." (Fergus Macpherson, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia : The Times and the Man, Oxford University Press, Lusaka, 1974, p. 70) Later the British Socialist Fenner Brockway would refer to Kaunda as ―"the African Gandhi". (Fenner Brockway, Outside the Right, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1963, p. 158).

Kenneth Kaunda has now passed into history at the age of 97. But how can we in India ever forget him?

May his memory live forever.

Anil Nauriya - June 18, 2021

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