‘KK’ A Giant of African Independence
Zambia’s first president Kenneth Kaunda, and one of the last of the generation of Africa’s first post-independence leaders, has died aged 97.
Kaunda was reportedly admitted to a military hospital in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, on Monday suffering from pneumonia.
In the 1950s, Kaunda was a leading figure in what was then called Northern Rhodesia’s independence movement from Britain.
In 1964 Kaunda became Zambia’s first president.
As leader of the United National Independence Party (UNIP), Kaunda ruled Zambia through nearly three decades of one-party rule, until in 1991 he stepped down after losing multi-party elections.
Kaunda Battled Against Apartheid and HIV
Kennth Kaunda, who was popularly known as KK – was a staunch supporter of the campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. He was also a leading supporter of liberation movements in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
In later life Kaunda turned his attention to the fight against HIV after one of his sons, Masuzyo, died from an Aids-related disease.
The Zambian government has declared three weeks of national mourning with all forms of entertainment suspended.
Tributes Pour In
Zambian President Edgar Lungu said the country was mourning “a true African icon”.
“I learnt of your passing this afternoon with great sadness,” President Lungu wrote on Facebook “On behalf of the entire nation and on my own behalf I pray that the entire Kaunda family is comforted as we mourn our first president and true African icon.”
The Nelson Mandela Foundation said Kaunda’s contribution to the struggle against colonialism and apartheid would not be forgotten.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa paid tribute to Zambia’s former president, describing Kaunda as the ‘father of African independence and unity. South Africa has declared a national period of mourning for 10 days starting on Friday. Flags will be flown at half-mast at all flag stations.