Excerpts from my book:
Most of us have often echoed the “One Zambia, One Nation” mantra, with much aplomb, in meetings, at political rallies or during school assemblies, well at least this was a must immediately after our country gained Independence from British colonial rule, without bothering to interrogate what prompted our fore fathers, first Republican President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda and his colleagues, to craft such a progressive and unifying slogan.
Our country boasts of a total of 73 tribal or ethnic groupings each with a diverse cultural and traditional orientation. This would obviously present immediate challenges to the new government after independence. The ethnic tentions which had been building up for months prior to independence would fast rear up its ugly head thus threatening to tear apart the new nation. This would boil to a climax as the heroes of the liberation struggle, the United Nation Independence Party (UNIP) gathered in Chilenje, Lusaka for its national council early February, 1968.
The atmosphere was quite tense and highly charged as delegates sat according to their ethnic and regional orientation. During the next few days of the conference, delegates quarreled and traded insults openly. A stunned Kaunda sat on the podium and watched quietly as these unfortunate events unfolded, dramatically. When it was finally his turn to speak, Kaunda could not hide his utter disgust and consternation at the shameful tribalism he had just witnessed!
“I am left with no choice, but to resign immediately!” he announced and stormed out of the gathering.
The conference delegates were shocked! According to former freedom fighter, Sikota Wina, in his book, “A Night without a President,” it had to take a combined effort of top military commanders, top religious leaders and closest family friends to prevail upon Kaunda to rescind his decision.
In the days that lay ahead, Kaunda faced a Herculean task of fostering national unity to appease expectant citizens eager to see the benefits of freedom. This prompted Kaunda and his colleagues to craft the “One Zambia; One Nation” motto as a way of fostering national unity and setting up the stage of a more prosperous nation.
Prince Bill M. Kaping’a