Turning 50, Zambia documents liberation struggle

The government has received complaints about freedom fighters who had been forgotten despite their contributions to Zambia's independence

Turning 50, Zambia documents liberation struggle

As Zambia celebrates its 50th independence anniversary, the government is launching a project to document the country's struggle against colonial rule.

"The documentation we have embarked on is aimed at making people know where we, the people of Zambia, came from and how we got our freedom," government spokesperson Joseph Katema told Anadolu Agency.

"The freedom we have enjoyed in the past 50 years was the product of the contribution made by individual persons we now call freedom fighters," he said.

The project will document the contributions made by individual freedom fighters in the struggle for liberation, the sacrifices they made and the events surrounding their struggle.

"We need to do this fast, as the people who have this information are dying," said Katema. "With the passage of time, memories naturally fade or get distorted with age."

Zambia – now seen as a model of African democracy – won independence from the United Kingdom in October of 1964.

Katema said the government had received numerous complaints about freedom fighters who had been forgotten despite their contributions to Zambia's freedom.

"On behalf of the government, I need to apologize for taking long to embark on this project," he said.

"Some people feel neglected and forgotten because nobody is talking about them and their contributions to the liberation of the country," he added.

The spokesman admitted that part of the problem was the politicization of the liberation struggle. Most forgotten freedom fighters, he noted, had belonged to the party that lost elections with the introduction of multiparty politics in Zambia.

"When the United National Independence Party (UNIP) lost the first multiparty elections in 1991, all the freedom fighters saw the new party that formed the government as an enemy party, and hence had nothing to do with it," Katema recalled.

"And with time, these people were forgotten," he added.

He admitted that the only freedom fighters that were still remembered were those that went along with the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) after the fall of UNIP.

"But now, we want to correct the situation. That is why we have decided to document the individual contributions of all freedom fighters," Katema told AA.

"We have invited everyone in the country who has information on forgotten freedom fighters to… bring forth the names of these people to be documented," he said.

Daniel Mutale, national chairman of the Freedom Fighters Association of Zambia (FFAZ), has repeatedly asked the government to recognize the individual contributions of the country's forgotten freedom fighters.

"I will be very happy to see the government honoring all freedom fighters," Mutale, 81, told AA. "Those that have died should be honored posthumously."

Vernon Mwanga, a veteran politician and former freedom fighter himself, agrees.

"A number of people who fought for the liberation struggle in Zambia have died without recognition from the government," he told AA.

"It is important that people who fought for the liberation of this country are not only recognized by the government, but also respected," said Mwanga, who joined the liberation struggle as a boy and was part of the team that launched the popular Cha Cha Cha campaign in 1961.

He lamented that almost all former freedom fighters in rural areas of the country were in dire need of financial assistance to improve their less-than-ideal living conditions.

AA

Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Ekim 2014, 14:45

Muhammed Öylek

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