By ANDREW MUKOMA and MUSONDA MULENGA
SOME Choma-based freedom fighters were yesterday overwhelmed with some almost fainting upon seeing the casket carrying the body of First Republican President Kenneth Kaunda.
Scores of residents lined up the main road in disbelief to have a glimpse of the casket and pay rest to the late former president as the Zambia Army Cortege carrying the body drove to the Stadium for the Church Service.
Solidarity songs were echoed from onlookers in remembrance of their hero while others could not hold their tears and wailed as business also came to a standstill in the provincial capital.
The situation was almost the same even at the stadium where some residents had to climb the wall fence after being denied entry just to witness what was going on.
A few freedom fighters were allowed inside the stadium together with some government and church officials in observance of the Covid-19 restrictions.
The Red Cross and defense personnel had a tough time helping those that were failing to contain their emotions.
An elderly man could not stop weeping and had to be escorted to the Red Cross tent to be attended to. The sense of grief among the freedom fighters was palpable as tears shimmered in their eyes seeing their leader lying in a casket.
The State Funeral of Dr Kaunda yesterday started with Choma the Provincial Capital for Southern Province.
The Zambia Air Force helicopter carrying Dr Kaunda’s remains arrived at Mawaggali Institute Ground at exactly 12:00 hours and was accompanied by family members led by chief mourner, Colonel Panji Kaunda the first born son of the late President.
And in a speech ready on his behalf by Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet Patrick Kangwa during the Church Service held at the Independence Stadium in Choma, President Edgar Lungu said despite the loss of the country’s great leader in Dr Kaunda, Zambia was profoundly grateful to the Almighty God for his life and immense contribution to the nation, continent and the rest of the world.
President Lungu called on Zambians to celebrate Dr Kaunda’s legacy and the significant role he played in the liberation struggle, his sterling leadership, selflessness, compassion and determination.
And Southern Province Permanent Secretary Joyce Bwacha thanked government and Dr Kaunda’s family for considering Southern Province as the first place for the public viewing of his remains.
During his homily, United Church of Zambia (UCZ) Southern Presbytery Right Reverend Bishop Elias Sinkala encouraged Zambians to embrace the spirit of unity, saying, that will be the only way the nation would honour Dr Kaunda.