By Field Ruwe
With tests of spirit and courage we sought for a saviour; the son of a missionary of the Church of Scotland who told us he was an expert cliff climber. Wrapped in zeal as in a cloak tied at the shoulder like a biblical climber he pledged to teach us how to get our toes in the narrow cracks of granite and climb to the lofty summit. Up deep in the ravine he led us. We conquered the main obstacle to our advancement—colonialism, and emerged on a narrow rugged shelf, broken and uneven, but great all the same.
The cliff climber became a hero theos; a paragon of freedom. For we are meek, we made him the patriot and protector. Griots, minstrels, skalds, udgatars, and ashiks composed eulogies and ballads in his praise. They sang of him first of all the heroes. They composed songs that aroused their courage. For, as they sang for him, they were inspired. He reciprocated with Augustus Toplady’s Hymn “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee; Not the labours of my hands can fulfil thy law’s commands” which he sang with gusto. He told us to “love thy neighbour as thy self” and decreed “Thou shall not steal!”And when we became crocked and inebriated he threatened to forsake us.
Owing to his gravitas we called him “The Emancipator” for he was like Heracles in many ways. As leader of men he was a great motivator who knew how to inspire fierce loyalty bordering on worship. He knew how to raise morale and get the best from us. He had limitless power. He used his wits on several occasions when his strength did not suffice, such as when some among us threatened to secede. He was a passionate and emotional individual, capable of doing great deeds for his friends and for country.
As we bid farewell, lined up along the last boulevard, wreath in hand, waving, wailing the words Kaunda Kafikepo (farewell), and throwing ourselves to the ground, we hear the strum on your guitar and voice in you, singing:
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I rise to worlds unknown
And behold thee on thy throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.