Zambia loses first President Kenneth Kaunda at 97

Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s former president and the father of the country‘s independence is dead. 

On Thursday, he passed away at the age of 97. 

On Monday, Kaunda was admitted to the Maina Soko Medical Center, a military hospital in Lusaka, where he was being treated for Pneumonia, according to authorities.

However, his son Kambarage Kaunda declared the Zambian founding president’s death on Facebook. 

Kambarage requested prayers for his father, whom he referred to as Mzee.

“He’s being treated for pneumonia, but he doesn’t have Covid,” his assistant Rodrick Ngolo told AFP, refuting speculations to the contrary. 

“Pneumonia is a recurring condition (with the ex-president), and every time you hear that he’s in hospital, it’s because of pneumonia,” Ngolo said, adding that the ex-health president’s had “improved” since Monday.

Kaunda, dubbed the “African Gandhi” for his nonviolent advocacy, led Northern Rhodesia to bloodless independence in October 1964. 

He ruled the country for 27 years as a socialist, mostly as part of a one-party system whose mismanagement resulted in a serious economic and social crises. He accepted free elections in 1991 after deadly disturbances, but was defeated. 

It housed several movements fighting for independence or black equality in other countries in the region, including South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC).

He was the leader of the biggest nationalist party, the center-left UNIP, and was also known as “KK.” When he publicly stated that one of his sons had died of AIDS, he became an AIDS campaigner.

Educator, writer and legal researcher at Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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