Zambia toasts freedom in style

President Banda yesterday led Service chiefs, diplomats and freedom fighters in laying wreaths at the Freedom Statue to commemorate the Africa Freedom Day.

And Zambians across the country turned out in their droves to celebrate the continent’s freedom in style, with the main event in Lusaka characterised by pomp and splendour.

The President, who arrived at the Freedom Statue at 09:00 hours, was met by Chief Justice Ernest Sakala and Speaker of the National Assembly Amusaa Mwanamwambwa.

The occasion was characterised by solemn music as Zambia joined the rest of the continent in commemorating this day, which honours those who died during the liberation struggle.

After the wreath laying ceremony, the President took time to greet former President Frederick Chiluba, who was also present at the ceremony.

He also greeted diplomats, ministers and other senior Government and MMD officials.

National Democratic Party president Tenthani Mwanza and New Revolution Party president Cosmo Mumba were also present.

Speaking earlier, Zambia National Service Chaplain Bossy Nkhoma said even though Africa was celebrating the day, there still remains an element of struggle for total freedom, which must be addressed.

Captain Nkhoma said the Africa Freedom Day must not just be a familiar event, but bring with it a sense of responsibility for everyone to preserve the peace Zambia is enjoying.

“Our brothers and sisters were brutalised for our freedom. Consequently, we must not get involved in vices that do not reflect what they suffered and died for,” Capt Nkhoma said.

He urged Zambians not to abuse the freedom they are enjoying by mudslinging, trading insults and being disrespectful to one another.

Meanwhile, Zambians from all walks of life took a break from their daily engagements and the deafening political debates to celebrate Africa Freedom Day in style.

Colourful celebrations took place in Lusaka, Ndola, Kitwe, towns and districts across the country.

At the Lusaka Show Grounds, the celebrations were characterised by pomp and splendour, with President Banda gracing the event, accompanied by his wife, Thandiwe, who was clad in chitenge attire.

Also present were Vice-President George Kunda and his wife, Irene, and former first lady Maureen Mwanawasa and second republican President Frederick Chiluba who was accompanied by his wife Regina.

Top Government officials also attended the occasion, including permanent secretaries and ministers, notable among them Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Ronnie Shikapwasha, Minister of Science, Technology and Vocational Training Peter Daka and Minister of Livestock and Fisheries Development Bradford Machila.

Members of the diplomatic corps were also in attendance.

The guests were treated to different kinds of entertainment with traditional dancers from all provinces in the country bringing out the full menu of Zambian culture.

President Banda could not resist the dance floor when he took the stage and joined the MMD choir that sang praises of the development that has been brought about by his government.

Mrs Banda also took to the dance floor to join Cuban musicians who played Guantanamela.

Deputy Minister at State House Daniel Munkombwe belted out some traditional Tonga poetry, much to the amusement of the celebrants.

The veteran politician-cum-crooner earned himself a deafening applause from the high table and the rest of the guests.

Some journalists covering the event put their gear aside to join traditional dancers from their respective provinces.

By REBECCA CHILESHE and CAROLINE KALOMBE

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