Zambia marked the first anniversary of the passing of former President Rupiah Bwezani Banda on March 11, 2023. In commemoration of the occasion, current President Hakainde Hichilema attended a memorial service held at the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka.
Speaking at the service, President Hichilema paid tribute to the late president, describing him as a great statesman who contributed to the smooth transition of power after the 2021 General Election. The president noted that the 2021 General Election was an emotional and tense one that was well-handled by former President Banda, who mediated between himself and his predecessor Edgar Lungu to ensure peace in the country.
President Hichilema also praised President Banda’s belief in democracy and the rule of law, which he said was unequivocal and firm. He added that the world had a lot to learn from the late president’s legacy, especially in terms of his unwavering commitment to social justice and equality. President Hichilema said that President Banda belonged to a generation of leaders that brought political emancipation to Zambia, standing against the wickedness and injustices associated with racism and all forms of discrimination.
In his remarks, President Hichilema urged all politicians and public servants to learn from the former president, who was known for his forgiveness and ability to maintain peace. He also described President Banda as a giant who was part of a group of freedom fighters that delivered independence to Zambia.
Representing the late president’s family and friends, James Banda, President Banda’s brother, asked President Hichilema to initiate a dialogue with his predecessor, Edgar Lungu, for love to exist between the two leaders. He said there was a lot of goodwill between the two national leaders, and there was a need for them to start talking to each other.
In her tribute to her husband, Thandiwe Banda said the last 12 months had not been easy for her, but she was grateful for the support she had received from family and friends. She noted how much courage and work she had to employ to live without the former president.
President Banda’s children and grandchildren also read tributes, represented by Alice Johnson and Sarah Banda, respectively. Meanwhile, representing family friends, President Banda’s former press aide, Dickson Jere, outlined five attributes that he said politicians could learn from the late leader. Mr. Jere listed some of them as humility, equity, and sportsmanship, which President Banda exhibited in his life.
In his homily, Vicar-General for the Cathedral, Charley Thomas, described President Banda’s memorial as a transition from mourning into healing. He noted that the service was an event of strengthening President Banda’s family, but also for the entire country to reflect on his contribution to national development. He described President Banda as a transitional person in several of his various works.
The memorial service for the late President Rupiah Bwezani Banda was attended by numerous individuals who paid their respects to a man who served his country with distinction. His legacy of social justice, equality, and democracy will continue to inspire generations of Zambians to come.