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Zambia’s fourth President, Rupiah Banda, was laid to rest on Friday, one day after a state funeral.
Banda, who died last week aged 85, was buried at the Embassy Park, the burial place for presidents in Lusaka, the country’s capital, after a church service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
President Hakainde Hichilema led other mourners, who included foreign dignitaries, at the burial service, marking an end to the seven-day mourning period.
In his address, Hichilema said the former president will not just be mourned but celebrated because of the exemplary life he lived.
The president said the legacy left by Banda will continue to inspire the current crop of leaders as he lived a diligent life that promoted peace and unity.
According to him, the current crop of leaders should endeavor to promote unity, instead of division.
Jacob Mwanza, Banda’s long-standing friend and former governor of the country’s central bank, described the former president as a generous man who helped a lot in society but choose not to publicize his deeds.
Banda, who died on March 11, 2022, has received accolades from various sectors of society. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2020 and received treatment abroad.
Fondly called RB, or “President for all Zambians,” Banda ruled the southern African nation from 2008 to 2011. Before that, he served as vice-president to late President Levy Mwanawasa.
He entered Zambian politics at a young age, joining the youth league of the United National Independence Party (UNIP), which fought for the liberation of the country from colonial oppression in the 1960s.
Banda joined the government of the country’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda, and served in various diplomatic postings, starting as ambassador to Egypt in 1965 before taking a similar post to the United States in 1967.
He later served as Zambia’s permanent representative to the United Nations; in this position he also headed the UN Council for Namibia, before becoming Zambia’s foreign minister.
Banda loved sports and served as vice-chairperson and later chairperson of Zambia’s soccer governing body