One of the European inspirational leaders who worked closely with Zambia’s founding president Kenneth Kaunda and his colleagues in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia.
In 1970, for example, Zambia was tasked with hosting the next conference of the non-aligned movement – an organization of mostly Afro-Asian nations that decided to steer a middle course in the superpowers’ East-West Cold War which – on paper at least – seems to have ‘ended’ with the fall of the Berlin War and unification of East and West Germany in 1989.
To accomplish the huge task at hand Zambia – despite immense pressure triggered by the United Nations (UN) sanctions imposed on the Ian Smith’s rebel regime in neighbouring Southern Rhodesia – mobilized her meager financial resources and brought in a team of Yugoslav engineers and construction workers to erect the Mulungushi International Conference Centre (MICC).
Most critics and cynics thought Zambia had been given an impossible task, but thanks to President Tito and his government in Belgrade the ultra-modern Mulungushi conference centre – probably second in Africa only to Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi, was built in record time.
As a result, Zambia was able to successfully host the NAM summit conference for the first time and much to the satisfaction of delegates most of whom were accommodated in exquisitely designed villas constructed simultaneously with the MICC superstructure located within close proximity of Parliament Buildings off the Great East Road, Lusaka.
In fact the Yugoslavs, if I remember correctly, were to some extent doing what the Chinese are presently doing in Zambia because most of the major construction projects were undertaken by the East Europeans. They were also the force behind LENCO, the Lusaka Engineering Company, which used to manufacture bus bodies for the government-owned United Bus Company of Zambia (UBZ) and in the process creating jobs for thousands of Zambian workers.
However, most soccer fans and officials alike will always remember Ante Buselic, the Yugoslav full-time expatriate coach who with his expertise instantly turned the Zambian National Team into a powerful force that gave General Mobutu’s dreaded Zaire Leopards a torrid time during thee African Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals played in Cairo in 1974.
The Leopards had previously mauled the Zambian B team that had been sent to Kinshasa for an international friendly 10-1. But this time around the overconfident Zaireans led by goalkeeper Kazadi found the ‘KK XI’ tough-nuts-to-crack that they had to send for their ‘traditional snack’ – roasted monkey meat – for a special meal in order to overpower Zambia 2-0 in the second final match played the next day after the first showdown ended in a 2-2- draw in the Egyptian capital.
Buselic also mentored many coaches including Colonel Brighton Banda of Green Buffaloes Football Club who eventually took over the job when he (Buselic) returned home at the end of his contract thanks to the efforts of men of peace like the late president Tito who inspired millions across the globe.
So who was Tito?
President Tito was born on May 7, 1892 in Kumrovec near Zagreb, Croation, Austria-Hungary (now in Croatia) and died on May 4, 1980 in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia (now in Slovania).
Archival records indicate that Josip Broz Tito was secretary-general (later president) of the Communist Party (League of Communists) of Yugoslavia (1939–80), supreme commander of the Yugoslav Partisans (1941–45) and the Yugoslav People’s Army (1945–80), and marshal (1943–80), premier (1945–53), and president (1953–80) of Yugoslavia. Tito was the chief architect of the “second Yugoslavia,” a socialist federation that lasted from World War II until 1991. He was the first Communist leader in power to defy Soviet hegemony, a backer of independent roads to socialism (sometimes referred to as “national communism”), and a promoter of the policy of non-alignment between the two hostile blocs in the Cold War.
Josip Broz was born to a large peasant family in Kumrovec, northwest of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, of a Croat father and a Slovene mother. He was apprenticed to a locksmith in 1907 and completed his training in 1910, when he joined the Social Democratic Party of Croatia-Slavonia at Zagreb. After working as an itinerant metalworker in various Austro-Hungarian and German centres, he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army in 1913, completed noncommissioned-officer training, and was sent as a sergeant in the war against Serbia in 1914.
Transferred to the Russian front in early 1915, he was seriously wounded and captured by the Russians in April 1915. After a long hospitalization he was sent to prisoner-of-war camps, where he became acquainted with Bolshevik propaganda. In 1917 he participated in the July Days demonstrations in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) and, after the October Revolution, joined a Red Guard unit in Omsk, Siberia. Following a White counter-offensive, he fled to Kirgiziya (now Kyrgyzstan) and subsequently returned to Omsk, where he married a Russian woman and joined the South Slav section of the Bolshevik party. In October 1920 he returned to his native Croatia (then part of the newly established Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes) and soon joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY).
Tito’s career as a communist militant was cut short in December 1920 by a state ban against communist activities. He lost his job in a Zagreb locksmith shop and moved to a nearby village, where he worked as a mill mechanic until 1923. Having revived his links with the underground CPY, he served as a local and regional party functionary and trade union organizer in Croatia and Serbia until 1927, when he joined the CPY committee for Zagreb, quickly becoming its organizational secretary. He promoted a campaign against party functions (the so-called Zagreb Line), thereby attracting the attention of Moscow.
Rewarded by being named the Zagreb committee’s political secretary in April 1928, he led street demonstrations against the authorities following the assassination of Croat deputies in the Belgrade parliament in June 1928. His success at reviving the CPY’s vitality was cut short by arrest in August 1928. The police discovered bombs in Broz’s apartment—a testimony to his adherence to the new insurrectionary line of the Comintern, the Soviet-sponsored organization of international communism. During his trial, which ended with sentencing to a five-year term, Broz Tito defended himself with exceptional courage and gained further credit with the party authorities.
Broz’s prison term coincided with the establishment of the royal Yugoslav dictatorship, which was promulgated by King Alexander I in order to stem the nationalistic movements of disaffected non-Serbs. In an attempt to break the modest influence of the CPY, the government arrested most of the party cadre, sentencing many of its members to terms far harsher than Tito’s. Despite these blows, at the time of his release in March 1934, the CPY was slowly recuperating under the agile leadership in exile of Milan Gorkić. Gorkić summoned Tito to the CPY’s Vienna headquarters, where he attempted to secure his cooperation by bringing him into the CPY Politburo.
It was at this time that Broz assumed the pseudonym Tito, one of many that he used in underground party work. From February 1935 to October 1936, Tito was in the Soviet Union, where he worked in the Comintern apparatus.
By 1937 Tito was increasingly involved in the CPY’s underground work in Yugoslavia, where he established ties with a new generation of militants. In 1937–38, Joseph Stalin’s purges devastated the CPY leadership, claiming the lives of Gorkić and most of the other topmost veterans. Tito profited from (and probably was an accomplice in) the repression, gaining the Comintern’s mandate to replenish the CPY’s leadership councils with his hand-picked lieutenants—Edvard Kardelj, Alexander Ranković, Milovan Djilas, and Ivo Lola Ribar. He was the Comintern’s choice for the CPY’s new secretary-general, a position he formally assumed in 1939. At the Fifth Land Conference of the CPY, an underground mini-congress held in Zagreb in October 1940, Tito sketched the CPY’s leftist strategy, which focused the party on armed insurrection and on a Soviet-style federalist solution to Yugoslavia’s nationality conflict. At that time the CPY had some 7,000 members, not counting the additional 17,200 members of the Young Communist League.
An opportunity for armed insurgency presented itself after the Axis powers, led by Germany and Italy, occupied and partitioned Yugoslavia in April 1941. The CPY remained the only organized political group ready and capable of contending with the occupiers and their collaborators throughout the territory of the defunct Yugoslav state. This meant that the communist-dominated Partisan units were not simply auxiliaries of the Allied war effort but an offensive force in their own right. Their ultimate aim, carefully concealed in the rhetoric of “national liberation struggle,” was the seizure of power. To this end, in Partisan-held territories they established “liberation committees,” communist-dominated administrative organs that prefigured the future federal republics.
As a result, Tito’s Partisans became a threat not only to the occupiers and collaborators but also to the royal government-in-exile and its domestic exponents, the Serbia Chetniks of Dragoljub Mihailović. In time, Communist pressure drove the Chetniks into tactical alliances with the Axis, thereby precipitating their isolation and defeat.
In 1943, after Tito’s headquarters survived bruising Axis operations from January to June (particularly in the battles of Neretva and Sutjeska), the Western Allies recognized him as the leader of the Yugoslav resistance and obliged the London government-in-exile to come to terms with him. In June 1944 the royal premier, Ivan Šubašić, met Tito on the island of Vis and agreed to coordinate the activities of the exiled government with Tito. The Soviet army, aided by Tito’s Partisans, liberated Serbia in October 1944, thereby sealing the fate of the Yugoslav dynasty, which had the strongest following in this largest of the Yugoslav lands. There ensued a series of mop-up operations that strengthened Communist control of the whole of Yugoslavia by May 1945. In the process the Yugoslav frontiers extended to take in Istria and portions of the Julian Alps, where reprisals against fleeing Croat and Slovene collaborationists were especially brutal.
The policy non-alignment
The West smoothed Yugoslavia’s course by offering aid and military assistance. By 1953 military aid had evolved into an informal association with NATO via a tripartite pact with Greece and Turkey that included a provision for mutual defense. After the changes in the Soviet Union following Stalin’s death in 1953, Tito was faced with a choice: either continue the Westward course and give up one-party dictatorship (an idea promoted by Milovan Djilas but rejected by Tito in January 1954) or seek reconciliation with a somewhat reformed new Soviet leadership. The latter course became increasingly possible after a conciliatory state visit by Nikita Khrushchev to Belgrade in May 1955. The Belgrade declaration, adopted at that time, committed Soviet leaders to equality in relations with the communist-ruled countries—at least in the case of Yugoslavia. However, the limits of reconciliation became obvious after the Soviet intervention in Hungary in 1956; this was followed by a new Soviet campaign against Tito, aimed at blaming the Yugoslavs for inspiring the Hungarian insurgents. Yugoslav-Soviet relations went through similar cool periods in the 1960s (following the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia) and thereafter.
Nevertheless, Stalin’s departure lessened the pressures for greater integration with the West, and Tito came to conceive of his internal and foreign policy as being equidistant from both blocs. Seeking like-minded statesmen elsewhere, he found them in the leaders of the developing countries. Negotiations with Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Jawaharlal Nehru of India in June 1956 led to a closer cooperation among states that were “non-engaged” in the East-West confrontation. From non-engagement evolved the concept of “active non-alignment”—that is, the promotion of alternatives to bloc politics, as opposed to mere neutrality. The first meeting of non-aligned states took place in Belgrade under Tito’s sponsorship in 1961.
The movement continued thereafter, but by the end of his life Tito had been eclipsed by new member states, such as Cuba, that conceived of nonalignment as anti-Westernism. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org