Mr Jonathan encourages Africans to reflect on the virtues that motivated leaders like Mr Kaunda to make significant contributions to the continent.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has revealed, for the first time, how the late first President of Zambia and foremost Pan-Africanist, Kenneth Kaunda, gave accurate prophecy on his political progression by predicting 17 years ago that he would become President, at a time nobody thought that such prospect was possible.
Mr Jonathan stated this in Pretoria, South Africa, on Saturday in his keynote speech at the Second Kenneth Kaunda Public Lecture organised by Kenneth Kaunda Children of Africa Foundation.
Mr Jonathan also charged African leaders to aspire to live up to the ideals of Mr Kaunda who he said was a leading voice in Africa’s quest for freedom and unity, adding that the quality of leadership on the continent needed to be improved to ensure that the efforts of founding fathers like Mr Kaunda towards Africa’s freedom, peace and development were not in vain.
He further urged African nations to forge functional partnerships and work towards the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to enhance development and economic freedom for the continent.
Speaking of Mr Kaunda’s prayers and prophecy on his political future as at the time he was Governor of Bayelsa State, the former President noted that it happened during the late elder statesmen’s two-day visit to Bayelsa in 2006, following an invitation he extended to him to participate in his government’s work against the scourge of HIV/AIDS.
Mr Jonathan said: “I must say it now that Kaunda in the early days of my political career, captured my political trajectory to the presidency in an accurate prophetic revelation that has continued to amaze me till this day.
“In 2006 when Kaunda had ended his visit to us in Yenagoa and was returning to Zambia, I remember seeing him off to the Port Harcourt Airport in neighbouring Rivers State. As he stood up and was about to board a vehicle that would convey him to the aircraft, he turned back and said to me, “young man, you will be the president of this country one day.”
Mr Jonathan said further that when this happened, he and his Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Boladei Igali, who was with him “simply looked at each other in amazement, because the presidency was never in our dreams, at that time.”
The former President noted however that he “later saw the prediction fulfilled in my life… So I can say that KK (Kenneth Kaunda) was the man who saw tomorrow as it related then to my political future and fortune, as I eventually became the President of my country, four years after that wish.”
Corroborating the former President’s assertion, the chief executive officer of Kenneth Kaunda Children of Africa Foundation, Sunday Musonda, confirmed that he was with Kaunda during the visit, saying: “I was with Dr. Kaunda during that visit to Nigeria. One point I clearly remember was when KK blessed you (Jonathan) and said you would be President of Nigeria one day.”
Speaking on the continent’s political history, Mr Jonathan encouraged Africans to reflect on the defining virtues that motivated leaders like Kaunda to make significant contributions to the continent’s development.
He stated: “As a young man then, my knowledge of African history was shaped by transformational leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Julius Nyerere, and, of course, Kenneth Kaunda. The stories of their resilience and passion for nation-building formed the basis of contemporary African history. Their strides and sacrificial lifestyles toward their continent have produced many benefits for the continent.
“In their prime, these leaders envisioned a continent of hope where its people would be free from every guise of bondage. They committed their lives to actualising their dreams of independence for their countries. The likes of Kaunda could have opted to take sides with the oppressors and feed fat on their spoils, at the expense of the freedom of the people who were in bondage. But they chose the altruistic path of pursuing justice, hope, freedom, and good governance for their people.”
He further noted that the major issues confronting the continent today are insecurity, weak economies, disunity, poverty, climate change, and poor governance.
Making a case for good governance on the continent, Mr Jonathan said: “Leadership has become a major source of conflicts and wars in most of our countries. The leadership recruitment process and our inability to effectively manage political transitions have resulted in avoidable conflicts. Elections in some countries have become a source of instability, largely reflecting the kind of leaders we have in authority.
“My charge to my fellow brothers and sisters in the continent is for us to seek to redefine leadership and governance in the continent. We need a leadership process that guarantees the fundamental freedoms and rights of the citizens and delivers a good life to them.
“We need to build and protect our political systems to serve the best interest of our people. We must learn how to manage our diversity and build an inclusive society.
Mr Jonathan emphasized that AfCFTA has provided a clear path of attaining economic freedom for African nations, adding that strengthening a common African market would help Africans build a prosperous and united continent.
He however warned that in order to make AfCFTA a reality, sustainable and of maximum benefit to Africa, “we need to address Africa’s infrastructure gaps especially transportation, air and rail networks, in order to ensure easy movement of goods and services within the continent. Also our leaders need to work towards having a common medium of exchange to better optimise the gains of AfCFTA in the long term.”
S.A. to H.E. Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan