The South African envoy has observed that Zambia’s contribution to the emancipation of southern Africa makes the country ideal for the creation of a city to be a “symbol of the liberation” in Africa.

Moses Chikane said that he has been assigned by President Jacob Zuma to come up with a “token of appreciation” for Zambia’s role in liberating southern Africa and South Africa in particular. Chikane said Zambia was “the nerve centre of the liberation movements” in Southern Africa, hence the need to construct a city dedicated to her role in liberating the region.

The South African high commissioner said Africans must have a place where they look up to just like religions have places they consider holy. “Moslems, go to Mecca, Jews go to Jerusalem. We follow whoever, why can’t we build this centre where we will be able to converge ourselves?”

Chikane said for 27 years the headquarters of the African National Congress (ANC) was in Zambia before South Africa’s independence in 1994. The southern African country similarly provided a home to the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of South Africa and several other liberation movements from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola and Namibia. He said the establishment of this city is also in honour of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda because of his selfless dedication to the cause of the African people. He said Kaunda’s role in this project would be to tell the story of the liberation struggles in Africa.

“This nation (Zambia) set the whole region free …at the helm of that was an old man Kaunda who is today the living monument of history. One would say the tension had reached the highest point and there he was steering our cause in the middle of this world, without wavering off course.”

Chikane said Kaunda was surrounded by the soviet bloc in the east, the western world and “an army of thieves of the African continent such as Mobutu Seseseko (former Zairean president) “but he never surrendered the commitment and the covenant that he made with his colleagues to set the African continent free. He added that one of the valuable lessons that can be learned from Kaunda’s life is “Ubuntu” (humanity).

“Some of his valuable lessons we are losing, great pity. One of them is Ubuntu – humanity.” He added that this city will be “a place that we need to converge in times of misunderstandings”.

The South African envoy said the proposed city in Zambia will be for all Africans and should be built by Africans themselves. He added: “I want you and I (author), people of Africa – people of goodwill, scholars, intellectuals, and ordinary people to put up this town.”

Chikane said once the town is built, it will host many facilities which will be named after all the heroes and heroines of southern region to provide vivid memories of the liberation struggles.

“A lot of our people including our ministers such as Lindiwe (Sisulu) studied here in UNZA (University of Zambia). Those people that are resting in the Leopards Hill cemetery, on some of them you just find the name Daudau, and you wonder if their families know that he is sleeping there. In this town we are going to be able to give them meaning.”

Chikane also hoped that the torch that is taken around towns in South Africa to mark 100 years of ANC’s existence would eventually be brought to Zambia, the place that hosted Africa’s oldest political movement for 27 years.

“ANC government in exile was here, ‘the ready to govern document’ was written here. Now it is the centenary of the ANC and the torch is moving from one town to the other and I have been saying that torch must also come here because 27 years ago, ANC’s face was here.”

Chris Chirwa, chairman of Covenant Africa Limited, a company that was formed to spearhead the establishment of this town in Zambia, said that plans have reached an advanced stage. He said that the establishment of the city is a positive development not only for Zambia but for the entire continent as it will be a centre of knowledge and tourism destination.

“We want people instead of going to America or Europe for their research on African history to be coming to Zambia because we will have all the materials at this city.”

Chirwa said that the city will be at Kaleni Hills in Mwinilunga District of the North Western Province, a place that was offered by senior chief Kanongesha of the Lunda people of Zambia. He further said that the Zambian government is aware of the project which is also being supported by Zambia’s first president, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda.

The significance of the location is that Mwinilunga hosts the source of the Zambezi River, the fourth longest river in Africa. The Zambezi River from its source in the Kaleni Hills in Zambia meanders through the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and flows along the borders of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique en route to the Indian Ocean. The Republic of Zambia draws her name from the Zambezi River.

Mwinilunga is a small rural district with a population of about 180,000, located some 860 kilometres from Zambia’s capital, Lusaka and 280 kilomtres from Solwezi, the provincial capital of North Western Province. Although, the province has for a long time been underdeveloped, it has in the recent past emerged as the new copper belt of Zambia with the opening of the new mines at Lumwana and Kansanshi.

The promoters of the project are hopeful that the local community would also benefit from the new social amenities and employment opportunities in the area.