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 A BEFITTING sendoff of late President Rupiah Band, popularly known as RB, was yesterday held with foreign dignitaries who included three heads of State and five former presidents.

While thousands of Zambians followed proceedings on televisions screens, President Hakainde Hichilema led other dignitaries in remembering the country’s fourth republican president who died on March 11, 2022.

President Hichilema and his predecessor, President Edgar Lungu, showing a reflection of the peace that RB was well known for, sat on the same podium with other leaders.

In his speech, President Hichilema acknowledged the presence of the former president, whom he had personally invited publicly.

President Lungu and former First Lady, Esther, took their place with other former heads of State, just behind the current leaders.

And President Hichilema has called on leaders in the country as well as the youth to embrace and emulate the legacy of peace, love, reconciliation and patriotism which was exhibited by Mr Banda.

The President said leaders should adopt the values of Mr. Banda because they aimed at uniting and serving Zambians.

He explained that it is rare to see an individual thrive in public service for over 60 years, which Mr Banda did.

Mr. Hichilema said Mr. Banda served the country and the entire region in various capacities with excellence.

The President noted that Mr. Banda was loved by many Zambians for the role he played in uniting the country before and after the general elections in 2021.

He said Mr. Banda will be remembered as a gallant leader who fought for the country’s democracy.

The country, Mr Hichilema said, is heartbroken by his death.

And in a vote of thanks, Mr Banda’s son, Henry, thanked President Hichilema for the support rendered to the family during the mourning period.

Henry Banda

Mr. Banda also extended his gratitude to foreign heads of State and Government who showed support and solidarity to the family during the funeral.

Other leaders who spoke and praised President Hichilema for holding a befitting funeral for Mr Banda, included Tanzania’s former President Jakaya Kikwete  and former President of Malawi, Bakili Muluzu. 

Mr Muluzu, who briefly greeted the gathering in impeccable Nyanja, a shared common language between Zambia and Malawi, commended Zambians for honouring Mr Banda.

Mr Kikwete said Mr Banda put off a medical trip because he was worried about the Zambians and wanted to ensure that there was peace, making him a true statesman.

Other leaders at the funeral included President of Namibia Hage Geingob, who said Mr Banda played a major role in liberating the continent of Africa, and ensured that the people of the continent lived in peace and harmony.

He said while Zambia and Zimbabwe claim RB as their own, Mr Banda is considered as the first president of that country   having served as chairman of the UN Council for Namibia.

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