October 30, 2000
Former Zambian leader brings message to Emory
By Eric Rangus email@example.com
A table in the back of the Jones Room held fresh fruit and bottled waterrefreshments
for the crowd gathered for an address by Kenneth Kaunda, the president
of Zambia for 27 years.
Perhaps a birthday cake would have been more appropriate.
Tuesday, Oct. 24, the date of Kaundas speech, was his countrys
36th birthday. On Oct. 24, 1964, in Zambias capital city of Lusaka,
Kaunda lowered the British flag that had flown over his country for 70
years, then raised Zambias own.
It was my honor, Kaunda said, beaming, to an audience of
close to 100.
But Kaunda had other things on his mind than celebratory cheer. His visit,
co-sponsored by Emorys Institute for African Studies and the Kaunda
Children of Africa Foundation, was titled, The Impact of AIDS on
Africa: What Can We Do?
Kaunda quoted statistics stating that rates of HIV/AIDS infection in
Africa range from 38 percent to 0.5 percent, adding the low mark may be
incorrect since several countries underreport cases.
HIV/AIDS is a serious challenge to mans place on earth,
he said. No country should becomplacent. No region must relax.
Kaunda said the AIDS epidemic in Africa is jeopardizing the continents
developing nations. The disease kills skilled workers and leaves no one
behind to replace them, he explained. In 1988, he said, 1,500 teachers
died of AIDS.
Another effect is the millions of orphaned children left behind by deceased
parents: 7.1 million in sub-Saharan Africa, according to Kaunda.
How are we going to look after these children? he asked.
We need skills, training and jobs. The children are innocent by-standers,
we have to save them.
And that is the mission of Kaundas foundation. Through the organization,
Kaunda said he hopes to construct a community-based approach to orphan
care. Orphaned children are often ignored by family members who fear the
disease that killed their parents.
Other foundation goals include building and partnering with schools to
offer job training for orphans, supporting existing orphanages and building
new ones and developing models for AIDS prevention in rural areasmany
of which have lower incidences of AIDS infection than the rapidly growing
urban centers of Africa.
We are our brothers keeper, Kaunda said. What
affects one, affects us all.
Land-locked Zambia is a nation of 9.3 million located in sub-Saharan
Africa and bordered by seven countries. Kaunda, Zambias first president,
led the nation from 1964 to 1991 and was re-elected six times (although,
it must be noted, he faced no opposition in any of those elections). He
guided Zambia through its transition from British colonial possession
to a developing industrial nationall while located next door to
the volatile nations of Angola and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic
of the Congo).
Kaunda, 76, has devoted himself to humanitarian issues since stepping
down from leadership of Zambias United National Independence Party
last March. Kaundas Children of Africa Foundation was registered
in his homeland in April and in the United States in June. Kaunda said
he hopes to expand to several other countries in Africa in the coming
Kaunda was joined by two other foundation leaders, including his oldest
son, Waza. Donald Donham, anthropology professor and institute director,
and Assistant Professor of anthropology Debra Spitulnik handled the introductions.