May 2, 2003

Former President of Zambia Visits Cornell

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The former President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda, will give a special lecture on “Democratization, Development and the Challenges for Africa” on Monday during his two-day visit.


The lecture, sponsored in part by the Institute for African Development (IAD) and the Cornell Law School’s Berger International Legal Studies Program, will be held in the Schwartz Auditorium in Rockefeller at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a reception in the A.D. White House. Kaunda is the first speaker in the IAD’s Special Speaker Series, which will hold one speaking event per semester.

Kaunda served as the first President of the Republic of Zambia from 1964 to 1991. In addition to his work in Zambia, Kaunda served as the President of the Pan-African Freedom Movement for East, Central and Southern Africa (Pafmesca) in 1962 as he helped lead liberation efforts in all of Africa. Additionally, Kaunda served as chair of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) from 1970 to 1973 and played key roles in the peacemaking efforts between Kenya and Somalia and the liberation movements in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

After leaving office in 1991, Kaunda founded the Kenneth Kaunda Peace Foundation, dedicated to establishing peace and conflict resolution in Africa. He is also dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS and poverty on the continent.

Kaunda is currently the Balfour African President in Residence at Boston University’s African Presidential Archives and Research Center and was awarded honorary doctorates of law from the Universities of Fordham, Dublin, Wales, Windsor, Sussex, York and Chile. He is also the author of many books, including Black Government (1961), Zambia Shall be Free (1962) and Zambia and Its Implementation (1967).

Kaunda was contacted by Prof. Muna Ndulo, director of the IAD. Program Coordinator Jackie Sayegh, handled the logistics of planning events for Kaunda’s visit with an objective to “maximize the benefit to the Cornell community,” Sayegh said.

“I feel that his visit will immensely contribute to the intellectual and scholarly environment at Cornell. His lecture will bring an awareness to the wider community of the panoply of critical issues confronting the African continent as well as help to shape debate and influence policies toward Africa,” Sayegh added.

In addition to his lecture, Kaunda will meet with President Hunter R. Rawlings III, hold a press conference, participate in a working lunch with faculty fellows and students and meet with the IAD’s committee members.

Prof. Kifle Gebremedhin, biological and environmental engineering, chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee for the IAD, emphasized that Kaunda is the only surviving former head of state of the OAU and has a wealth of experience from his 27-year term as former president of Zambia.

Gebremedhin hopes that Kaunda will “bring to light and identify the challenges in the continent and the appropriate measures to alleviate the problems.”


“I am very much excited for a person of his caliber to come to Cornell. This is very rare and I know students are also very excited. This is how students will found out about what is going on outside the borders of the U.S.,” Gebremedhin added.

Expected to touch on the issue of good governance and the use of power in Africa in his upcoming lecture, Dr. Kaunda is an inspirational speaker who attests to the capabilities of a leader who is in service to a country and a people, not to the leader himself. I

n a past address, Kaunda explained, “The cornerstone of our constitutions, governments and peoples must be service to man. It is the all in all. Without man there is no constitution, there is no government, there is no law, there is no country … So those of us who are leaders of our people must not only think about the importance of man, it must be an obsession. We must think and think again about how best we shall serve and not about how important we are as leaders of our people, or how we can safeguard our own positions as leaders. Why must we? Don’t we hold these in trust for our people?”

Prof. Emeritus Milton Esman, history, also looks forward to hearing Kaunda speak. Esman stressed that Kaunda “is to my knowledge the last survivor of the generation of African leaders who fought for independence and took over their government, which, from a historical perspective, makes Kaunda a very interesting figure.”

Archived article by Sarah Workman