The Sunday Mail
A week after the demise of Zimbabwe’s founding father, the setting for his funeral service was the National Sports Stadium.
The atmosphere was solemn as several sitting and former Heads of State from Africa and beyond had gathered to pay their last respects to the late Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
At 95, Cde Mugabe’s life was well-lived for the benefit of Zimbabwe and Africa in general.
His policies for the education, health and economic sectors will forever be cherished.
An event to celebrate his life was therefore the perfect platform for President Mnangagwa to get the blessings of the former President of Zambia, Dr Kenneth Kaunda.
Soon after President Mnangagwa delivered his speech that clearly came from the deep furrows of his heart in remembrance of his former boss, a speech that had the entire world glued to their screens, Dr Kaunda beckoned him to come over.
Handshakes and a few words were exchanged, with Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo bearing witness to the tête-à-tête.
At that very brief but symbolic moment, Dr Kaunda laid his hand on President Mnangagwa’s head, who responded by bowing down.
In the African and Biblical set-ups, when an elder lays his hand on one’s head, it is a form of blessing.
Dr Kaunda’s blessings are particularly important, not only to President Mnangagwa, but to Zimbabwe as well, as he is one of Africa’s founding fathers, having become the first President of independent Zambia in 1964.
Among the esteemed crop that include Cde Mugabe, Samora Machel (Mozambique), Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya), Kamuzu Banda (Malawi), Julius Nyerere (Tanzania) and Kwame Nkurumah (Ghana), among others, Dr Kaunda is Africa’s remaining founding father.
Dr Kaunda is on record describing President Emmerson Mnangagwa as a courageous man who has the potential to take Zimbabwe out of its current economic challenges, as well as preserve the legacy of his predecessor.
On President Mnangagwa’s inauguration on November 20 last year, Zambia, which has been Zimbabwe’s all-weather friend since the days of the liberation struggle, dispatched the trio of Dr Kaunda, his predecessor former President Rupiah Banda and the sitting President Edgar Lungu.
The University of Zambia recently conferred a Special Honorary PhD Law Degrees to President Mnangagwa, who pursued the greater part of his education in Zambia, in recognition of his transformative leadership.
As Dr Kaunda bid farewell to his long-time friend Cde Mugabe, one who was born only two months before him, he lingered over the casket for about 30 seconds or so, saying his goodbyes.