Zambia's First President Kenneth David Kaunda Dies Aged 97

Zambia's First President Kenneth David Kaunda Dies Aged 97

  • Zambia's founding president Kenneth David Kaunda is dead
  • His death was announced by his son Kambarange Kaunda on Thursday, June 17
  • The former president died days after being hospitalised at a military hospital aged 97
  • His officer had earlier said he was receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness

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Former president of the Republic of Zambia Kenneth David Kaunda is dead.

Zambia's founding president Kenneth David Kaunda.
Zambia's First President Kenneth David Kaunda. Photo: Rolls Press/Popperfoto.
Source: Getty Images

His death was confirmed by his son Kambarange Kaunda who said the founding president of Zambia breathed his last on Thursday, June 17.

Kaunda's death comes barely three days after he was hospitalised at a military hospital in the country's capital Lusaka, Zambia's Mwebantu reported.

The former president was receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness, his office had earlier said.

Mourning the fallen former president, presidential candidate in Zambia's 2021 elections Hakainde Hichilema said:

"We have learned with deep sorrow, of the death of Zambia’s first President and our founding father, Kenneth David Buchizya Kaunda. He passed away peacefully in Lusaka today, after a short illness."

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He further expressed his condolences to the Kaunda family during their bereavement and also prayed for strength as they come to terms with the sad loss.

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"Bashikulu KK will be sorely missed by all Zambians and the rest of the people on the African continent. Rest in peace gallant son of Africa," he added.

Kaunda hospitalised in Lusaka

His administrative assistant Rodrick Ngolo said in a statement on Monday, June 14 that Kaunda had been feeling unwell and had been admitted to the Maina Soko Medical Centre.

“His Excellency Dr Kaunda is requesting all Zambians and the international community to pray for him as the medical team is doing everything to ensure he recovers,” the statement said.

Kaunda's rule in Zambia

The 97-year-old ruled Zambia from 1964, when the country won its independence from Britain, until 1991. He is among the continent’s few surviving liberation heroes.

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Kaunda was one of the first leaders of a new Africa, as countries rejected colonialism in favour of self-government.

Despite his early rejection of multiparty democracy, he was acclaimed as a modernizing influence on the continent.

Kaunda began the job of building a new Zambia, free to choose its own path in international affairs, as a devoted pan-Africanist.

However, his popularity plummeted as a result of his terrible economic management, and he was thrown out of government in 1991 during free elections.

Kenneth David Kaunda was born on April 28, 1924, at the boundary between Northern Rhodesia and the Congo at a mission post.

His father, an ordained Church of Scotland minister, died while he was still a child, leaving the family in straitened circumstances.

But the young Kaunda's academic ability won him a place in the first secondary school to be formed in Northern Rhodesia, and he later became a teacher.

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Source: Yen

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