Culture And Heritage

President Mnangagwa mourns Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Father Ribeiro

Zambia's Founding Father Dr Kenneth Kaunda

By Nyasha Mutena

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has expressed deep pain and sorrow over the passing on of the former President of Zambia, Dr Kenneth Kaunda.

Through a condolence message to the Pan -Africanist and Statesman’s family and Zambians at large, President Mnangagwa said;

“It was with a sense of shock and deep sorrow that I learnt of the passing on of His Excellency Dr Kenneth David Kaunda. The passing on of this renowned Pan Africanist and elder statesman, has robbed the Kaunda family and the people of Zambia, and indeed the rest of Africa, of an examplary Father, an astute politician and leader whose immense contribution to the liberation of Southern African countries from colonial rule is well documented and acknowledged by the international community.

“On behalf of the Government and people of Zimbabwe and indeed on my own behalf, I wish to convey our most sincere condolences to you and through you to the Kaunda Family, the Government and people of Zambia, on this sad loss,” he said.

Dr Kaunda died yesterday the 17th of June 2021 at the age of 97. He became Zambian President in 1964 when the country won its independence from Britain and he led the country until 1991.

The former Zambian President is known for being one of the front line state leaders who played a major role in the liberation of Zambia.

Also, Zimbabwe too lost Father Emmanuel Ribeiro yesterday the 17th of June 2021. A devout Catholic, Father Ribeiro was a great composer of numerous hymns which to this day animate many sermons in the Church.

The country drew from his unmatched skills as a songwriter and an artist on the National Anthem and the National Flag. He was an accomplished novelist who wrote in one of the National Languages under the then Rhodesia Literature Bureau.

Alongside late Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa and late Solomon Mutsvairo, Father Ribeiro blazed the trail in employing National Languages for creative writing.

President Mnangagwa said the death of Father Ribeiro is a great loss to the nation.

“Father Emmanuel Ribeiro’s service to the Catholic Church and to our country was long and eventful. From serving in many remote rural parishes, the late Father Ribeiro dedicated the latter part of his ministry in colonial days to catering to the spiritual needs of many freedom fighters serving long prison terms, and to those summarily condemned to death for resisting settler colonialism. Equally, he would frequent prisons and detention centres housing leading nationalist leaders to pray with them, thus giving them hope and infusing faith in the eventual triumph of our cause to free our people and our country from colonial bondage.

“In the case of condemned former prisoners like myself, his figure became one of the only contacts we had with the outside world. Or the only and last human being one would see before one met one’s cruel fate at the hands of colonial authorities. His religious chores as a prison chaplain thus brought him in direct contact with souls in acute distress, indeed exposed him to horrid scenes of settler penal cruelty, scenes which haunted him to his last day In this life,” said President Mnangagwa.

He added;

“His service to the cause of our freedom took many forms including undertaking missions at great personal peril. Alongside late Sister Aquina, late Moven Mahachi and Sekuru Tangwena, Father Ribeiro played a key relaying role which ensured late Cdes Robert Gabriel Mugabe and Edgar Zivanai Tekere absconded to Mozambique for purposes of leading the Struggle after the assassination of Cde Herbert Chitepo, Chairman of our Party then in exile. Until the attainment of Independence in 1980, his commitment to the Liberation Struggle was unwavering”.