FRIDAY 18 March 2022 was a solemn day for Zambia as the country put to rest its fourth President, Rupiah Bwezani Banda, affectionately known as ‘RB’ who died of cancer.
His grave has an epitaph: “The world is diminished because he was here”
“His Excellency Rupiah Bwezani Banda TheFourth President of the Republic of Zambia 19th February, 1937 to 11th March, 2022.
Banda’s burial place on this day was Embark Park on Independence Avenue in the capital, Lusaka, which is emerging as tourist spot.
Four other presidents - Kenneth David Kaunda, Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa and Michael Chilufya Sata are also buried here.
The grave of the first President, Dr Kaunda is inscribed with the ONE ZAMBIA ONE NATION motto, symbolising his commitment to uniting the 73 tribes.
In front of each mausoleum is a red paver, a sign of respect for the late presidents.
The presidential burial site, the national monument, has an eye-catching view which attracts glimpses from onlookers.
The interesting feature of the burial site is that the mausoleums built for each president illuminate what he can be remembered for, a creative and thoughtful boost to their relevance.
A visit to the site, brings to life the legacy of each fallen President. For example, Dr Mwanawasa’s mausoleum is a traditional sitting stool because he died as a sitting President. In fact, he was the first Zambian President to die in office.
As a lawyer, his mausoleum has a lawyer’s wig and a blue cloth which lawyers wear.
His mausoleum has four pillars, each representing what Dr Mwanawasa believed in – from stamping out corruption, developing mining and agriculture sectors, reducing poverty and economy and development. He was President for seven years.
The second to be buried at the site was Mr Chiluba. He served as Zambia’s second President and served two terms. He died on 18 June 2011.
Inside his mausoleum are FTJ letters in red, a short form for his name - Frederick Jacob Titus. There is also a cross on top of the building for the man who declared Zambia as a Christian nation on 29 December 1991.
There is a symbol of a house signifying the role the second President played in empowering Zambians with council houses sold at one US Dollar, which was equivalent to ten Kwacha at the time, said Harold Aston Machuku, the caretaker of the Presidential Burial Site.
At the entrance to Mr Chiluba’s mausoleum is a necktie, a sign of his taste for fashion.
Next is the mausoleum for the fifth Zambian President, Michael Chilufya Sata. He was the second to die while serving as President. His mausoleum is known as King Solomon Temple because of the promise he made to rule the country by 10 commandments of God.
During his three years in office, he created 29 districts, among them, Rufunsa, Chilanga, Vubwi, Sioma, Chirundu, Chikankata, Lunga, Chipili, Mwansabombwe, Mulobezi, Sikongo, Manyinga, Chisamba, Chitambo and Luano.
Others are Mitete, Shiwang’andu, Limulunga, Nalolo and Luampa.
Mr Sata is also remembered for creating Zambia’s tenth province – Muchinga, which was curved from Northern Province.
Whatever may be said about the Embassy Park, it seems a great place to honour the memories and service of these men tothe people of Zambia and across Africa.