Jun 20, 2021, 11:15 AM
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Kenneth Kaunda and a memory of meeting the leader of the revolution

Tehran, IRNA - Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, the first president of Zambia after independence, died at the age of 97 on June 17, 2021 in a hospital in Lusaka.

Kaunda was one of Africa's foremost anti-colonial and anti-racist activists and politicians, and for many years served as a front-line leader in the struggle against apartheid, leading the struggle for Nelson Mandela's liberation, apartheid collapse and Namibian independence. Zambia had no ties to racist regimes, including Israel and South Africa, during Kaunda's presidency. Like Nelson Mandela, but not as much as he was, Kaunda spent some of his life in a British racist prison. During a mission in Zambia, when I invited him to drink tea, he said with a laugh, "I left tea in 1953, when I was in prison, and to deal with the hardships of prison, many things, including eating meat, eggs, and so on." I left the tea because these things could not be found in prison."

Kaunda was a national and popular figure of the Zambian people, and Zambia was one of the first countries to recognize the Islamic Revolution of Iran during his presidency. Kenneth Kaunda's meeting with then-Iranian President Ayatollah Khamenei in Zimbabwe in 1987, during the Non-Aligned Movement summit, marked the beginning of a official relationship between Iran and Zambia. After this development, relations between the two countries developed, the position of the Zambian government, which had good relations with the Saddam Hossain regime in those days, was moderated, and Kaunda twice expressed regret over his country's previous position on the imposed war on Iran at two meetings of the African Unity Organization and the Non-Aligned Movement. Influenced by Ayatollah Khamenei's warm attitude and strong argument, Mr. Kaunda also agreed to establish an Iranian embassy in Lusaka.

Before being sent to Zambia to establish an embassy, ​​on June 9, 1988, I met with then-President Ayatollah Khamenei at the Pasteur Complex and asked for a verbal message for Kenneth Kaunda. After praising Kenneth Kaunda as one of the leaders of the struggle against apartheid, Ayatollah said: "I met Mr. Kaunda in Harare, he was very sincere, I think this meeting had a good effect on him. Ayatollah Khamenei noted in part of his message: "In the brief negotiations I had with you in Harare, I fully felt that there was a spiritual closeness between me and you. I know that various complications and factors beyond our control have caused us to not be able to communicate as much as we need to, but from now on we must try to fill this capacity. We are ready to cooperate in all kinds of fields. I invite you to come to Iran and talk closely about issues of interest."

I met with Mr. Kaunda on July 6, 1988. After hearing Ayatollah Khamenei's message, he expressed his respect for him and said: "I also have happy memories of meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei at the Harare summit and I will never forget his sincere words. We are happy that a revolutionary government has come to power in Iran and supports us in the fight against apartheid. I am a fundamentalist Christian and like you I believe in God or Allah who is merciful and gracious. Assure Mr. President that Africa will never forget Iran's support for the anti-racist struggle and will be an ally of Iran."

Kenneth Kaunda was the first victim of the Velvet Revolution in Africa, and in this regard I once again served Ayatollah Khamenei after the fall of Kaunda.

In fact, the West, which had failed to achieve its goals by using "hard power" in South Africa, experienced "soft power" and supported and strengthened Kaunda's opposition behind the scenes under the guise of supporting democracy. Former United States President Jimmy Carter has arrived in Lusaka as head of a non-governmental organization to oversee Zambia's election. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, requested by Carter, have also announced that they will cut off loans and grants to Zambia if Kaunda wins again. They were well aware of the extent to which African countries and Zambia depended on foreign loans. Thus, Kaunda failed, and the pro-Western government of Fredric Chiluba, in its first steps, established relations with Israel and South Africa and severed ties with four Islamic countries: Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.

After severing ties and returning to Iran in the spring of 1993, on one of the Mondays usually attended by the Supreme Leader of some managers, I went to his office and briefly reported on a new Western ploy to change the old and militant leaders of Africa. After a brief analysis, he said the people of Zambia would regret leaving Kaunda.

The Supreme Leader also spoke in the first sermon of Friday prayers, without mentioning the name of Zambia, about the deceitful policies of the West, which, under the guise of freedom and democracy, seek to change independent regimes in Africa. He used the word "velvet revolution" in that sermon.

About two years later, the people of Zambia regretted leaving Kaunda, as predicted by the revolutionary leader. Frederic Chiluba gradually became a dictator after his victory, and was tried for a long time by the Zambian judiciary for financial misconduct in his final year. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund did not live up to their promises, and Zambia was once again under secret Western guidance.

Kenneth Kaunda, who could not come to Tehran during his presidency, came to Iran on May 10, 2009, at the age of eighty-five, with a crooked stature and a tall stature. He had come to Iran at the invitation of the World Islamic Peace Assembly to give a speech on the "pathology of peace and apartheid". Old Kaunda still holding his white handkerchief as a sign of interest in peace, thanked me for coming to greet him. He sighed as we passed the Imam's shrine on the way from the airport to the hotel, saying, "The ayatollah was a great man. I became interested in the ayatollah from that day. He defended the struggles of the African people very logically and strongly."

Kaunda also referred to his meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei in Zimbabwe and said, "I have good memories of that meeting. Send him my greetings." A few days later, when leaving Iran, Kaunda said, "Pray for me and know that my heart beats like the Iranians to save the oppressed. Iran helped all the oppressed in the world, especially the people of Africa."

** Mohsen Pakaein - Former Iran ambassador to Zambia


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