Farewell to a true leader, a great son of Africa, Kenneth Kaunda

Thabiso Magodielo with President Kenneth Kaunda

A tribute by Thabiso Magodielo, Diplomatic Society’s Travel Specialist

18 June 2021

You fought the good fight and ran a good race.

I will always remember and cherish the warm welcome I received when visiting you at your home in Zambia. I will also remember your kindness, humility, energy and warmth. I will never forget how you prayed for me and entertained me with your musical talent, while we were planning the launch of the annual Kenneth Kaunda Golf Day.

You became a father figure to me when I discovered you shared the same birthday, date and year with my dad, bless his soul. So sentimental to think that you and my father would have been twins.


You taught me the true meaning of selfless leadership. I was fascinated by the fact that as a young president you refused to wash with hot water after discovering that some of your people had no access to hot water.

I wish other leaders could follow your lead and truly fight for the liberation and betterment of their own people’s lives. May they learn that a leader is a servant, not a master.

Those of you who’ve had an opportunity to be exposed and appreciate the works of John Donne, you may remember this, one of his best demonstrations of his God given art like linguistic abilities. He says...

'Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou thinkst thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow
And soonest our best men with thee do go
Rest of their bones and soul's delivery.

Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppies or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke. Why swellst thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die!'

• Death has a tendency of fooling us and itself into believing that it is mighty, it is scary and dreadful when it is in fact not

• If it were that powerful, why does it not have friends, relatives and family?

• This poor thing called death has no one, hence it hangs around with natural disasters, sickness, fate, chance, war etc. – terrible things

• Why then do we mourn death when we should be celebrating life?

• Why do we focus on the dark side when good and happy memories are the light?

• In fact, John Dunne says “if sleep is but a peaceful picture and example of death, how wonderful must the real rest be?

• He concludes by saying, “One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die!

On that note, I want to say my leader is not dead, he is just taking a break from this world and resting before going home.

Sleep well my leader. I will carry you in my heart till we meet in the morning. Weeping may endure the night, but joy comes in the morning.

(Kenneth Kaunda, the former president of Zambia, died in hospital in Lusaka at the age of 97 on 17 June 2021)