Independence Day & the reflection of a young Zambian leader


Your life and legacy forms the foundation that we the younger generations build on in the strive to develop our nation. We take pride in the melanin of our skin, holding true that there is a great evil in this world, but it has no color. And no matter how we slice it, hate’s greatest victim is always the person who habits it. So we choose to love.
For the torch is in our hands now. Our commitment is to holdfast these virtues that mold us: love, respect for all man despite differences in opinions and beliefs, for we all bleed the same.
To honor our founding father, I pray that we never forsake our culture of oneness. That we forever, lead by what’s right under God not what’s popular. That the truth never be dictated by the corrupt narrative of a few.

So, if ever the sun shines,
if ever the Zambezi river flows,
if ever the field’s yield,
if ever the salt of Ing'ombe Ilede be tested,
if ever the Mosi-oa-Tunya thunders,
if ever the eagle flies,
if ever our anthem is sung, May we remember your great courage, sacrifice and love

~ Barry Ilunga Jr.  Tiyende Pamodzi - Dr. Kenneth Kaunda Tribute


As we consider our independence this Fourth of July, let’s reflect on this beautiful expression of tribute to the Zambian independence leader Dr. Kenneth Kaunda. Freedom is a precious resource that can so easily be squandered. It is also a gem that comes at a steep cost. In the same way we examine the origins of a diamond, seeking to decipher the ethics behind it’s chronology from raw mineral to resplendent gemstone, we should also pause to reflect on the development of our own liberty.

Dr. Kenneth Kaunda


It’s only appropriate this July 4th, to also consider Juneteenth and acknowledge that for many in our community, the 4th of July in 1776 may not be a signal of liberation, but reminder of it’s cost. Whether the history of physical enslavement of African Americans, oppressive labor of Chinese migrants during the building of the railroad, systemic of oppression of minorities in the criminal justice system, the uprooting of communities, desimating of culture and even massacre of our indigenous compatriots (yet our founding fathers would have never used that word to describe them) and so many other examples.


Perhaps the most quoted language in the Declaration of Independence is the statement that all men are created equal. Many Native Americans, however, also remember the signers’ final grievance against the king:
"He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” 

~ Dennis Zotigh, Do American Indians Celebrate the 4th of July? 


How we remember will determine how we decide to go forward. Does a complex and morally complicated national history diminish or devalue our celebration of independence on Sunday? No, I do not believe so. Yet, it can inform how choose to celebrate.

It is said
The highest tribute to the dead
Is not grief, but gratitude.

~ Barry Ilunga Jr.  Tiyende Pamodzi - Dr. Kenneth Kaunda Tribute

The list of lives that went before us is long and contains painful gaps. Yet, it these very hearts and minds upon which our nation was founded. From the morally painful complexity of our founding fathers, to the present reckoning with our communal suppression of some of these historical facts, let us take time to reflect on ALL who built this nation. In the same way that we MUST reflect on the clothes we wear and the hands of those who made them, let us also consider our national tapestry and the many hands who wove the threads of history to create this social fabric.

And, let’s celebrate. Let’s celebrate with hope. A hope not in returning to what we once were or in our own ignorant belief that we as individuals are any better than those who founded this nation. No, a hope that in truly remembering, listening and repenting we can continue to build this complex tapestry into a beautiful work of art with the vision of freedom at it’s core.

 

Barry Illunga Jr. presenting spoken word

 


As my dear friend Barry so eloquently articulated:

 

For the torch is in our hands now. Our commitment is to holdfast these virtues that mold us: love, respect for all man despite differences in opinions and beliefs, for we all bleed the same.

To honor our founding father, I pray that we never forsake our culture of oneness. That we forever, lead by what’s right under God not what’s popular. That the truth never be dictated by the corrupt narrative of a few.

 

Or as one of my other favorite poems states:

You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.

~ W. H. Auden

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