Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s founding president, dies aged 97 | Zambia

Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s founding president and certainly one of Africa’s final surviving liberation leaders, has died at a army hospital in Lusaka, the place he was being handled for pneumonia. He was 97.

Kaunda dominated the southern African nation from 1964, when it gained independence from Britain, till 1991, and is revered throughout the continent as one of many era who fought to free their nations from colonial rule.

He was admitted to Maina Soko hospital on Monday with pneumonia.

“I’m unhappy to tell [members] now we have misplaced Mzee. Let’s pray for him,” his son Kambarage mentioned on the late president’s Fb web page on Wednesday.

The previous vice-president of Nigeria Atiku Abubakar mentioned Kaunda was the final of a era who had epitomised the liberation battle in Africa.

“His passing away is the tip of an period. We stay eternally grateful for his providers to Zambia and the continent,” he said on Twitter.

“An awesome tree has fallen. Africa hurts,” mentioned Prof Thuli Madonsela, the previous public protector in South Africa.

The youngest of eight kids of a Church of Scotland minister, Kaunda was a instructor by coaching like his dad and mom however was quickly drawn to politics.

He based and led the principal nationalist get together, the United Nationwide Independence get together, which campaigned in opposition to British colonial rule. Influenced by Gandhi’s technique of nonviolence, Kaunda spent 9 months in jail and later developed his personal humanist, socialist and pan-African philosophy.

As president of Zambia, Kaunda supported the combat of different international locations in opposition to repressive, racist regimes in South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and Rhodesia.

Nonetheless, as help for his rule ebbed, Kaunda launched a one-party state and was the only real candidate at elections three elections via the Seventies and Nineteen Eighties.

After he misplaced multiparty elections in 1991 following huge protests in opposition to his rule, Kaunda accepted the defeat.

Kenneth Kaunda greets the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh upon thier arrival in Lusaka in 1979
Kenneth Kaunda greets the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh upon their arrival in Lusaka throughout a tour of Africa in 1979. {Photograph}: AP

This set an vital precedent for Zambia and the continent, mentioned Nic Cheeseman, a professor of African politics on the College of Birmingham.

“He had much more respect and legitimacy than many others of his era. He received the nation-building proper and by no means performed divide and rule with communities, and that was essential for constructing stability.

“However there can even be individuals who had been imprisoned or overwhelmed below the one-party state for whom Kaunda can be removed from a optimistic determine,” Cheeseman mentioned.

After an abortive try to return to political workplace, Kaunda turned deeply concerned within the combat in opposition to HIV in Zambia and throughout Africa. The illness claimed certainly one of his sons.

Many blame the Maoist-inspired statist financial insurance policies Kaunda launched for Zambia’s lack of improvement below his rule. The nation now suffers a large burden of debt and different deep financial issues.

The chief of Zambia, President Edgar Lungu, faces an election in August amid accusations of authoritarianism.

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