ZAMBIANS should emulate former leaders as the country celebrates its golden jubilee this week, Jesuit Centre for theological Reflection (JCTR)Executive Director Fr Leonard Chiti has said.
Fr Chiti said former leaders were motivated by a spirit of nationalism and patriotism by placing the interests of Zambia ahead of their personal interests.
“Our independence leaders such as Dr Kenneth Kaunda and others sacrificed for Zambia so that we can be free,” he said.
Fr Chiti said since then, Zambia has remained united and peaceful in spite of the ethnic diversity of its peoples, a matter that has caused civil wars and strife elsewhere. Speaking during the end of a workshop organized for church members by JCTR to celebrate our jubilee year, Fr Chiti said Zambians must place the interests of the nation ahead of their personal interests.
And former Prime minister in the UNIP government, General Malimba Masheke and former Vice President in the MMD government under Chiluba, General Godfrey Miyanda implored Zambians to cherish the unity that the country had witnessed over the last five decades of independence.
Gen Masheke reminded the audience that the unity the country enjoys was a consequence of the ideal of ‘One Zambia one nation’ promoted by our independence leaders to make one nation out of two protectorates that existed before independence.
“It was also used to unite the more than 70 ethnic groups that make up Zambia,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gen Miyanda encouraged citizens to fight for their rights and ensure that Zambia’s laws are adhered to and followed in order to maintain the unity that has been achieved.
He recalled that many of his generation were disciplined Zambians who in spite of criticizing, when leaders strayed from their role of serving the nation, they maintained respect for them.
Fr Chiti further noted that recent developments that bordered on the promotion of tribalism should be rejected by all well-meaning Zambians during the celebrations of golden anniversary of independence.
“Tribalism has no place in a modern state such as Zambia which is slowly maturing as a democracy,” he said.
Fr Chiti urged Zambians to remain blind to tribal identities and affiliations and place the good of the nation above tribe.
“Going forward in the next 50 years Zambians should commit themselves towards promoting the common good of all the citizens of this nation,” he said.
Fr Chiti added that God given endowments of the nation should be enjoyed by all and leaders placed in authority should ensure that the common good was actualized so that poverty was eradicated. “This will come about when Zambians remain nationalistic and patriotic and regard one another as brothers and sisters,” he said. Fr Chiti said differences may and would happen but at the end of the day it was how Zambians went about dealing with such that matters. “Resolving differences may require identifying what really unites us and rejecting what breaks us apart,” he said.
Fr Chiti said this year of jubilee was a time of restoration, reconciliation and in some cases reparations. “It is a time of healing any wounds inflicted on some by others; it is a time of starting afresh and wiping the slate clean,” he said. Fr Chiti said Zambians should put all that divides nation aside and work towards the making Zambia a better place to live in. “Our former leaders such as the founding President and his colleagues from independence times down to our own times have acquired precious wisdom that we should all tap into,” he said.