Friday, June 17, 2016

Dear Shikulu - Tamara Kaunda Pens a Letter to Her Grandfather

Dr Kenneth David Kaunda is the founding father of the country we know today as the Republic of Zambia. A true African statesman, he not only played a pivotal role in the liberation struggle of Zambia but was instrumental in securing freedom for other African countries. I reached out to Tamara Kaunda, who is one of Dr Kaunda’s grandchildren, and she wrote this letter paying homage to the great African man we all love and admire. 

Letter to my Grandfather,
               By Tamara Kaunda

Dear Shikulu,

I remember how when I was growing up I used to walk ten kilometres from your farm to school every day and my school mates would wonder why you didn’t just buy a car for me to be dropped off and picked up from school. Even at that age I understood the significance of humble beginnings and I would tell them that it was my duty to work from scratch and make use of what I had to get to where I wanted to be. The fact that you fought for the freedom that I enjoy in Zambia is more than enough for me.  Back then, you had just come out of power and many people had negative perceptions about you. I felt it was my duty to not only stand up for you and remind people of the great things you had done but as part of the first family I knew that how I behaved was a reflection on the whole family.

Thank you for building this beautiful land which we shall continue building and forever treasure in our hearts. My hope is that as Zambians we will continue to love one another and be the change we want to see in our country rather than complaining about our challenges. I think that each generation faces its own set of trials. Today in Zambia we have economic challenges and I would like to encourage our people to seek solutions to our problems in the same way that you and the men and women who fought for our independence chose to seek solutions to our lack of freedom.

I believe that if every single one of us took it as a personal responsibility, together we could continue building what our forefathers built for us. When I went to study in China you were tremendously happy and encouraged me learn how the Chinese worked and bring those lessons back to our land. Having learnt from their incredible work ethic and just graduated from medical school I am excited about my plans for serving my country, particularly women and children.

If any of my fellow countrymen cast their eyes on this letter, I ask them to remember you, to focus on building skills for self-reliance, to teach their children to fish and not wait to be spoon-fed and to be future oriented and not short-sighted. We can build a Zambia that we all love, a Zambia that prospers, the Zambia of our dreams. I know that this is the dream that you have for us and I hope we can bring it to fruition in your lifetime.

With all my love,


Tamara Kaunda pictured above with her grandfather, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, "Whenever I am with him there are no dull moments because we are a pair that loves life and people." 
Photo Courtesy of Tamara Kaunda.

Tamara shared a few extra nuggets about her beloved grandfather.

1. How he inspires her
What inspires me most about him is the love he has for his country. He managed to unite 72 tribes and we have lived in harmony for the past 50 years. He did everything in his power to unite us and he taught us that regardless of which part of the country you come from we are all Zambians. The one thing I admire most about him is his love for the land. He believes in agriculture, and as a part of the family I was taught farming at a very tender age and that has helped me even now. My grandfather believes that if we could all go back to the land and make use of it we would have an economically stable and happy Zambia.

2. What he has taught her
One of the greatest ways in which he has impacted me is through his belief in hard work, talking less and doing more actions. He believes if you want to make an impact on a community, your country and the world at large do not just talk; do it and your work will speak for itself.

3. What he loves about her
I always looked for forward to having him for Christmas at the farm and I would be excited because I wanted to tell him all about what I had done at school. Trust me, he liked me because my school reports have always been outstanding! My grandfather is fond of imitating me whenever I speak because my voice is a bit sharp and am usually smiling and full of energy when I express myself. 

Thinking about a nation’s founding father

Dr Kaunda served as the president of Zambia for 27 years and his acquiescence to relinquishing power in 1991 after losing the election was an act of magnanimity not many African rulers have been able to practice. It laid the foundation for the robust multi-party democracy that Zambia currently enjoys. Dr Kaunda has shown himself to be a compassionate and affable patriarch whose dream for his nation is that of an abundance of love above all else. He has been up front and centre of Zambia’s and Africa’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic as a member of the Champions for an AIDS-free Generation in Africa. Dr Kaunda is a prolific writer, penning several books over the course of a lifetime. One of his books,  “Letter to my children,” is a heartfelt attempt to reach out to his children and impart the fatherly words of wisdom and instruction they may have personally missed out on as a result of having had to share their dad with millions of other Zambians.  By now, Dr Kaunda is not just a father but a grandfather too and is as iconic a father figure to his grandchildren as he is to the nation.


  1. this so inspiring i remember his days this time in october we would be preparing for independence it was all nice these days all that is history

  2. Tamara uv owez been a humble gal even in our high school days at Chipembi Girls one wouldnt know u came from such a high profile family because of yo humility....i salute u gal and keep representing Zambia. Long live KK