It is limiting to look at the life and legacy of a global figure, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, through a tabulation of the events he participated in throughout his mortal days on earth. Such an outlook is grossly myopic and misses the greatest contribution made by a life that was lived to influence and define the destiny of nations and the world.

The era-defining character and the change precipitating influence of Dr Kenneth Kaunda bestowed on him a rare honour. He is one of a few, throughout life, that have initiated many a movement most of which he was not personally a part of.

The liberation of Zambia in 1964 introduced to the world the workings of a special human being. A catalyst that would precipitate change way beyond his presidency of the nation he liberated. His was a tidal wave. KK was to become both a platform and its interlocutor. The KK tidal wave was born. The liberation of Zambia became an inspiration, model and fuel on which the liberation of Southern Africa was fired. The KK-wave worked because of its influence on the environment.

The world would instantaneously conclude and label those that disagreed with KK as unreasonable warmongers. KK influenced warring factions equally, a political deal was accepted as the best there was simply because of KK’s involvement. The warring parties would know that the compromises they made will be muted by the credible KK platform where they were made.

The KK tidal wave did not diminish with the liberation of the countries of Southern Africa. It did not diminish with the defeat of his party. It did not diminish with his advancement in age besides his longevity. The opposite happened. The liberation of Southern Africa’s roots in Lusaka created a special place for Zambia and Dr Kenneth Kaunda in Africa and the World. KK’s graceful exit from power advanced the course of democracy and ushered in multiparty democracy as a substitute of the one party state system that resulted from liberation. Out of political party politics in Zambia, KK became a renowned world interlocutor of the highest standing. He was called upon to monitor elections around the world for freeness and fairness. Rights Groups around the world sought his counsel, support and mediation in causes as varied as the full spectrum of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

KK’s tidal wave derived its strength and everlasting longevity because it was rooted in humanity. The accessibility and participatory form of the beautiful game was not lost on KK. He understood the power of football on and off the field of play. It happens outdoor in the open, it does not require equipment and facilities that increase barriers to entry, it is based on simple rules that promote fairness, it is community based in its organisation and it provides a sense of belonging and common purpose for players and supporters alike. The organisation, power and influence brought about by football were embraced by KK. In football he found a way to stay connected to the grassroots. He ensured that all the fixtures of Chipolopolo, domestic and international, began at State House with him sharing a meal with the Team. For a little boychild in the most rural of Zambia it meant, “It could be me in a few years’ time. Breaking bread with the President ahead of national duty”.

South African soccer is a direct beneficiary of KK’s tidal wave. In and around 1967, Mr Kaizer Motaung after being identified by Mr Doug Sammons; the football scout, was the first beneficiary of the KK tidal wave. He went on trial for final assessment in Zambia and played for Mufulira Blackpool. He was successful with raving accolades. He transitioned to America where he made an impact. When the winds of change were in the horizon. The soccer leadership in South Africa went to meet with the ANC leadership in exile.

Scholars of South African soccer will not miss the indelible influence Zambian soccer personalities had on the local game. It started in the 60s when Copa Belt Team came to South Africa and two of their outstanding players remained with Moroka Swallows Football Club.

The introduction of the Zambian football prowess was a phenomenon in South Africa by the time Orlando Pirates Football Club won the first golden star for the country under the stewardship of a Zambian Coach, Ronald Mkhandawire.

Dynamos Football Club had become a unique and dominant force with a team whose core was made of Zambian national team players. When tragedy struck and a plane with Chipolopolo players crashed on the shores of Gabon, one of the eighteen players that lost their lives was Wisdom Mumba Chansa, a friend of Kalusha Bwalya, who stood out in that Dynamos team here at home.

Kalusha Bwalya, the survivor of the crash, went on to shine the light for Zambian soccer in the world, as if representing the spirit of his departed team members, he won the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon as the coach of the National Team.

Who will forget Albert Bwalya, who tormented Orlando Pirates in all the derbies he featured in, Dennis Lota and Isaac Chansa who were both integral parts of Orlando Pirates Football Club for many years.

The glorious moments were captured by the prolific goal scorers Chris Katongo from Jomo Cosmos and Collins Mbesuma from Kaizer Chiefs and not forgetting the pace of Wisdom Nyirenda from Kaizer Chiefs.

The Zambian soccer prowess is KK’s tidal wave yet KK’s love for the beautiful game went beyond its nation building power. In fact, he was an ardent follower of the game. When he spent more time in South Africa in the nineties, he followed the PSL and Bafana-Bafana ardently, gracing a few of the matches with his presence.

KK loved life and was lovable. He loved showing off that his advanced age was not impeding his fitness.

We will forever remember his signature white handkerchief in his hand.


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