“The United States and Zambia: Celebrating Freedom Together” National Day Remarks

Deputy Chief of Mission David J. Young

June 5, 2014.

Today we commemorate 238 years of American independence. We’re getting an early start – ahead of the Fourth of July, owing to school holidays and the seasonal flight of many diplomats – but today we will lift our glasses to remember the inspiring vision of freedom that was articulated by American patriots in the city of Philadelphia two centuries ago. This October we will celebrate another freedom anniversary – 50 years of Zambian independence – and the realization of the dream of a great nation, Zambia, proud and free.

As we think about the march of freedom across our countries over the past half century, my thoughts are drawn to the heroes and heroines of America’s civil rights struggles. When I was a boy, one of my earliest memories was watching Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on an old black-and-white TV in my childhood home. I was transfixed. I heard the mesmerizing words of Dr. King’s dream of a world where people would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. He spoke of the essential human dignity of all God’s children, and his inclusive vision encompassed all in a great circle of brotherhood and sisterhood. Dr. King’s prophetic and heroic life fighting as a drum major for justice inspired me to enter the ministry and later to go into public service as a diplomat. Today the music for our reception comes from freedom songs of the American civil rights movement, music that marked part of America’s story of freedom – stretching from independence to the abolition of slavery, from suffrage for women to equal rights for all people.

Dr. King used to say that, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom.” These words are an important reminder to us as we work together in Zambia and the United States – and indeed around the world – to bring freedom’s benefits to all people. Because freedom isn’t free. It requires hard work and a commitment to the common good; it requires sacrifice and indeed selflessness. Those who believe in freedom and democracy must actively work together to advance these cherished values around the world. Seventy years ago, Americans led the largest seaborne operation in the history of the world to liberate France from Nazi control. This sacrifice on D-Day was made not for treasure or territory, but to liberate people under the stranglehold of fascism.

In 1941, American President Franklin Roosevelt articulated four fundamental freedoms that people everywhere need in order to live rewarding lives: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. These freedoms get to the core of good governance and sustainable development – and the inextricable links between the two.

The United States’ programs in Zambia in health, education, water, agriculture, and governance mirror these aspirations. Our assistance is guided by the common moral vision shared by the American and Zambian peoples, common values based on a commitment to democracy and peace, respect for your neighbor, and a desire to see all of humanity lifted up. We sometimes will disagree – and as friends we will candidly discuss those issues together – but the foundational values and interests we share undergird our partnership.

FDR’s Four Freedoms focus on both political and civil freedoms, on the one hand, and freedoms from deprivation and insecurity, on the other. In my time here in Zambia, I have been impressed with your democratic traditions and the deep commitment of your citizens to the sanctity of the ballot and your political liberties. When we look around the region, these commitments cannot be taken for granted. Zambia stands out as a stable and vibrant democracy. At the same time, many of us today are concerned by the pattern of violence among political cadres and harassment of those who disagree with government policies. In a democracy, disagreements are settled with words, not pangas. It is regrettable that police and cadres harass opposition political parties, civil society groups, and journalists who are merely exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Freedoms of speech, assembly and the press are foundational rights, and democracy can only flourish when these rights are guaranteed for all citizens, no matter which party or group they support.

In addition, a vibrant and independent NGO community is crucial to democracy and development. We strongly encourage the Zambian government to work with the NGO community to find a mutually acceptable solution regarding NGO registration and autonomy.

Democracies also respect the rights of minority groups. This is something that the United States has struggled with throughout our history. As Dr. King’s late wife, Coretta Scott King, once said, “Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.”

This value implores each of us to seek freedom not only for ourselves, but to defend the rights of those who disagree with us and those who may be different from us — including those who are infected and affected by HIV and AIDS, those who are disabled, those who are LGBT, and those who are from a different political party or religious tradition. The rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness need to apply to all people.

The other side of the Four Freedoms refers to freedom from want and freedom from fear. These guide U.S. development cooperation, which is broad and deep. We work together to combat the scourges of HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. We work with our Zambian and international partners to provide anti-retroviral drugs that keep over half a million HIV-positive Zambians alive. We work with the Zambian Ministry of Defense to fight AIDS among members of the armed forces, their families and communities. Our HIV assistance totals over $2 billion during the past decade, and we are committed to continue our partnership in the future. We look forward to working with the Zambian government to create a Country Health Partnership that will further support Zambian leadership to achieve an AIDS-free generation.

We partner with Zambia in a wide range of other areas. Our Millennium Challenge Compact will help provide clean water, sanitation and drainage for 1.2 million residents of Lusaka. We partner in promoting early childhood reading. We work with small farmers, particularly women farmers, to advance rural development and sustainable environmental practices. We help train the Zambian military and police with courses from officer training to VIP protection to emergency preparedness. We provide assistance to refugees and help combat human trafficking. We shine a light on gender-based violence and violence against children. And we have the second-largest contingent of Peace Corps Volunteers in the world. We are all weather friends of the Zambian government and the Zambian people.

Our friendship extends to a growing trade and investment relationship. American companies are active in the infrastructure, services and agricultural sectors, and the Embassy works to increase trade and investment. We support the American Chamber of Commerce and its members, who deepen the ties between our countries, transferring the benefits of trade and technology between our peoples. For our reception this afternoon we have benefitted from the generous hospitality of a variety of private sector donors that Janet named, and I would like to thank them again.

Over the past nine months I have been privileged to travel across this beautiful country — north, south, east and west. One of my interesting trips was to Eastern Province, where I visited six Peace Corps Volunteers. I stayed in a mud hut, ate nshima and beans for breakfast, took a bucket bath and was given a ceremonial bow and arrow by the village headman. I tried to shoot the Peace Corps director, but fortunately I missed. Though I must confess he did leave the country a couple of weeks ago.

What I have experienced from my travels is the incredible hospitality and friendship of the Zambian people. I also have seen firsthand the tremendous disparity in development in Zambia’s rural areas. Combatting freedom from want requires continued commitment and focus to address the glaring inequities in the countryside, where many families struggle against grinding poverty, rudimentary health care and sub-par schools. Too many women and children suffer from domestic and societal violence. The challenges for all of us who care about Zambia are great.

But when you live in this nation, and when you travel throughout this land, you cannot help but be an optimist. The beauty and resources of this country and its people are impressive. Zambia is blessed with a rich past and a promising future. This year, as we celebrate important freedom anniversaries together, let us reflect on the heritage of freedom that America and Zambia share. As partners and friends, let us rededicate ourselves to the work of advancing freedom – conquering freedom from want and freedom from fear, strengthening freedom of speech, and cherishing freedom of worship. Because living as free people is the hallmark of being human.

Let me close with these words from President Barack Obama, who said, “We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals.”

As Americans and Zambians, our peoples have much in common. We have partnered together for 50 years, and we will walk hand in hand for 50 more, and 50 after that. We will remain united by freedom, partnership, and common ideals. May God bless Zambia, and may God bless America. Thank you.

The Toast

And now, dear friends, I ask all of you to join me in a toast: To the good health and prosperity of His Excellency President Michael Chilufya Sata, and to the good health and prosperity of President Barack Obama, and to an ever closer partnership between the United States of America and the Republic of Zambia.

And now I am pleased to welcome our honored guest, Deputy Minister of Health Honorable Dr. Chitalu Chilufya.

(After Dr. Chitalu Chilufya speaks, present birthday greetings to Vice President Scott.)

We would like to acknowledge the occasion of the birthday of His Honor, Vice President Guy Lindsay Scott, born 70 years ago in Livingstone. We are pleased that Vice President Scott was able to join us today, and I would like to invite him to the VVIP area to cut a birthday cake.

After Birthday Greeting — MC to announce Washington Fellows:

As we celebrate the 70th birthday of Vice President Scott this week, we are also committed to celebrating the achievements and potential of future generations of Zambian leaders. Later this month, we will be sending 21 Washington Fellows to the United States as part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. We are proud to congratulate these outstanding young men and women from government, the business community, and civil society, ages 25-35, who will journey to U.S. universities for a six-week fellowship. In early August, our Fellows will meet with President Obama in Washington. I would like to ask the Fellows to join me on the stage so we can recognize them.

I know that not all 21 Fellows could be here tonight but let me read out everyone’s names and, if you could, wave when I call your name:

Charlene Bangwe, Zambia Open Community Schools

Louis Bwalya, Ministry of Justice

Clive Chifunte, Zambia Wildlife Authority

Mutibo Chijikwa, Cotton Development Trust

Bruce Ernest, Munich Advisors Group

Luyando Haangala, media consultant

Nosiku Kalonga, Mmabana Community Project

Sombo Kaweza

Raphael Kumwenda, ZNBC

Lukonga Lindunda, Bongo Hive

Simon Manda, University of Zambia

Zila Milupi, ILO

Chanda Mubanga

Chola Mutoni, FHI360

Mwenya Mutuna, Partners Group

Chisenga Muyoya, Asikana Network

Chalwe Mwansa

Isaac Mwansa, YALI Zambia

Mable Nedziwe, Ministry of Youth & Sport

Bwalya Zimba

Mutoba Ngoma, Tapera Industries Ltd.

Thanks for coming. Please enjoy some desserts from the American homeland and some inspiring freedom songs from the American past.