One of Africa’s independence veterans – former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda has died aged 97

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 June 2021:

Zambia’s founding president, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda has died, his family confirmed yesterday Thursday 17th June 2021. He was aged 97. Kaunda was hospitalised on Monday in Lusaka, the capital suffering from pneumonia. The family denied he had Covid-19.

Dr. Kaunda, fondly known as KK, was a strong supporter of efforts to end apartheid in South Africa. He was also a leading supporter of liberation movements in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

“I am sad to inform we have lost Mzee,” Kaunda’s son, Kambarage, wrote on his late father’s Facebook page, using a term of respect. “Let’s pray for him.”

Cabinet secretary Simon Miti said in an address on public television that Kaunda “died peacefully” at 2.30pm at a military hospital where he had been admitted on Monday with pneumonia.

The news comes after he was admitted to Maina Soko Medical Centre on Monday, with his office saying he was “unwell” and his aide, Rodrick Ngolo, saying he was being treated for pneumonia. (Photo: Late Dr Kenneth Kaunda).

Kaunda, 97, was the inaugural president of Zambia between 1964 and 1990, after the country gained independence from Britain.

He was born on 28 April 1924 in Chinsali, in what was then known as Northern Rhodesia.

Kaunda was head of the main nationalist party, the left-of-centre United National Independence Party (UNIP) which led the country to freedom from British colonial rule.

Initially a popular leader, Kaunda became increasingly autocratic and banned all opposition parties.

He eventually ceded power in the first multi-party elections in 1991, losing to trade unionist Fredrick Chiluba.

While in power, he hosted many of the movements fighting for independence or black equality in other countries around the region, including South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC).

Later in life, he regained stature as one of Africa’s political giants, helping to mediate crises in Zimbabwe and Kenya.

The UPND Alliance in Zambia has today announced that it has suspend election campaigns following the death of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda. This is what the statement says:

“Countrymen and women,  as the nation comes together in mourning, remembrance and celebration of the life of our dearly departed founding father of our nation, Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda, it is agreed and therefore directed, that the UPND and all our alliance partners, suspend all active mobilization activities until further notice.

“It is also agreed and therefore directed, that all our people out on the campaign trail across the country, immediately call off all campaigns and return to their original bases as the nation comes together in unity and pay our respects to our nation’s founding father.

“We urge all to remain peaceful and united as we continue to reflect on the life of the Dr. Kaunda, the immense sense of duty, service and sacrifice with which he led and served our country and our people. I thank you.”

Dr Kaunda will be remembered by many in Africa and around the world for waving his white handkerchief. He is expected to have a huge State funeral, limited only by Covid restrictions.

5 Comments

  1. The passing of one of Africa’s true greats – Dr Kenneth Kaunda – while being an occasion of great sorrow and sadness for his immediate family, for Zambia and for Africa as a whole, should also be seized upon as a moment for reflection on the significance of what he and others like him, dead or otherwise, achieved for our beloved continent. They restored our collective dignity as Africans; dignity that had been violated by centuries of the unforgiving and unforgivable triangular slave trade and by decades of Western imperial and colonial tutelage; dignity that is still held hostage by newer and broader forms of external interference and control in which the West still plays an active role but this time alongside China, the new economic behemoth with an increasingly visible and active and not so benign and beneficial presence in the continent.

    A key question is this: are Zambians and other Africans today worthy inheritors of what the Kaundas, Nkrumahs, Lumumbas, Kenyattas and Mandelas fought for and created, sacrificing in the process their personal freedoms and at times their very lives? These great political figures were of course neither saints nor gods. On the contrary, they were all too human – a bundle of contradictions, of virtues and vices. Some like the Toures of Guinea turned out to be real demagogues and sanguinary dictators, whose blood-stained records are there for all to remember. However, while such horrifying records should never be glossed over or forgotten as they might risk being repeated, the political independence Dr Kaunda and others dreamed up and brought into fruition must be their abiding legacy. They did their bit for our continent with the democratic means they had at their disposal. That bit, to my mind, has been Africa’s greatest achievement since becoming independent.

    Our generation owes this priceless gift to the sacrifices they made. Putting the gift to full use, resulting in complete emancipation – political as indeed economic and cultural – for our continent is our sacred duty. The full and irreversible recovery of our dignity depends on it. Put another way, Zambians and other Africans today are yet to prove that they are deserving recipients of Dr Kaunda’s great gift. May his soul rest in perfect peace.

  2. Our lives pass from us like the winds;And why should wise men sorely grieve to know that they must die? The glories that we seek will eventually fade;The lovely face of light will also become dimmed and darkness will take its place.( Abolqasem Ferdowsi ) Rest in Bliss
    and Perfect Peace – Dr Kenneth Kaunda,Father
    of Zambia.

  3. May the soul of Dr Kenneth Kaunda rest in peace. You cannot talk about his life with out talking about his huge contribution he made in helping end Apartheid in South Africa. He was one of the few remaining African liberation leaders that fougth against imperialism, and colonialism both in his country of Northern Rhodesia , Zambia today,which became one of the socalled front line state in the struggle against Apartheid South Africa. And in the end helped secured independence for his country Zambia, and other countries like Sothern Rhodesia presently known as Zimbabwe in 1980, under banner of Robert Mugabe’s ZANUPF , and Jousha Nkomo ZAPU struggle for independence against Ian Smiths white minority government . And he also allowed Zambia to be used as a military base for uMkhonto we sizwe, meaning in Mandela’s Xhosa language “Spear of the Nation”. The armed wing of the African National Congress, was co – founded in the wake of the 21st March 1960, massacre of 69 people by apartheid forces in the twonship of Sharpeville in Transvaal in today’s Gauteng province in the Eastern Cape region.

    This massacre awaken the world’s consciences to the oppressive nature of the white minority apartheid regime against the majority black population of South Africa. This was also the years of the civil rights movement in the United States. Effectively,pitting Zambia against nuclear armed apartheid government of South Africa, by hosting the militay wing of the ANC.Which up to that point has been preaching passive resistance against the violent nationalistic government against its black population. To that end the dynamics of the struggle change over night. It goes with out saying , is so much people can allow to be controlled by an oppressive regime. In the eyes of Prime minister Vorster,succeed later by P W Boatha, President Kaunda made Zambia a legitimate military targets for political, economic, and infrastructure targets of South Africa defence forces, and it notorious intelligence services, the civil cooperation bureau. As a liberation fighter Dr Kaunda, laid out his beliefs in his publication of his 1962, some will say his political autobiography in his book “Zambia Shall be Free” .

    Acoording to some critics analysts of his book “We can hardly expect objectivity in the autobiography of a politician currently in the forefront of professional strife:nor do we get it here. In a sightly haphazard sketch of the victorious approach of Northern Rhodesia (the” Zambia “of the book) to emancipation, the author’s main theme is the grievance, all too well known and too well founded, of an African population treated with contumely and inequity by a ruling minority” Maybe those critics saw what is to become of Zambia under its own African son. Now in later years, despite his huge efforts in helping gain freedom for other Africans in the continent, once Zambia gained its Independence, he like many others like him betrayed his poeple by implementing the same colonial era policies, denying their populations most of the freedom, by curtailing the freedom of speech, banning political opponents, and effectively like Sierra-leone under Stevens, turning the country to a one party state. And even the Colonial era laws were used against political decent. As for the economics front,like most other African countries, if Zambians were hopping by attaining independence, will put them firmly in the driving seat, to carve out a road map, and develop their country for Zambians for Zambians, as we see today the influence, or the strangle hold China have over the Zambian economy. Surely all those hopes are dash. The Zambian population have literally been thrown under the bus by their so called African liberators. Like many Africans today, Zambians feel they have escaped from the fire to the frying pan. White Colonialism or neo African Colonialism, you can hardly tell the difference. Life just got worse. Now we got new dictators in the block.

  4. Indeed, no matter how boundless a blessed drop of water becomes it cannot be greater than the mighty Ocean; If it was up to me to decide,” Mzee” I would be have been delighted to add those extra three years like Icing on a cake that was so desperately needed in order for you to reach a 100 years; Be thou consoled, Father of Zambia Allah’s thoughts and motives are unknown to man – He alone knows what is best for all the children of men; There are very few men on the African continent that I hold in high regard and you Sir, are one of them; You have been a vivid example; The quintessential African gentleman – intelligent, thoughtful and peaceful. Go in Peace Sir, the time for regrets has long gone now, the ascent towards the throne of Mercy and Grace has already begun. Africa celebrates and give thanks for you, a tiny seed, that eventually sprouted and became a gigantic magnificent tree with branches that brought forth a mind blowing abundance of good and delicious fruits.

    I am quite sure that Nkrumah, Sellaissie, Kenyatta, Lumumba, Toure and Stevens are waiting to joyfully receive you on the shores of majestic heaven – Tell them the truth,do not hesitate to tell all of them their children are still languishing in abject poverty; still shackled by debts, nepotism and tribalism in a world controlled,and dominated by loan sharks like the IMF and World Bank. Tell the Legendary Nkrumah his words have come to pass that his children are lost,without hope drowning in the turbulent waters of Europe in search of a better life in cold, freezing far away lands. Rest in Perfect Peace and Eternal Bliss Dr Kenneth Kaunda – may a million thanks of our people accompany you diligently as your loyal guides before the Tremendous majestic throne of Almighty God.

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