Zambia mourns the passing of founding president
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Zambia’s founding president and liberation leader, Kenneth David Kaunda has passed away, and will be mourned as a true African icon.
The 97-year-old former president was admitted to the Maina Soko Military Hospital in Lusaka on Monday. Rodrick Ngolo, his administrative assistant, said in a statement that he was admitted after feeling “unwell”.
Current president of Zambia, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, said on behalf of the nation that he prays the Kaunda family is comforted during this time.
“I learnt of your passing with great sadness. You have gone at a time we least expected but we are comforted that you are now with Our Father, God Almighty in heaven. I pray that the Kaunda family is comforted as we mourn a true African icon,” Lungu said.
The former president’s son, Kambarage Kaunda, said on the late president’s Facebook group: “I am sad to inform members we have lost Mzee. Let’s pray for him.”
In Kiswahili, “Mzee” is often used as a title of respect for an ancestor, parent, or old person.
Kaunda was born at Lubwa Mission in Chinsali, Zambia and was the youngest of eight children to a teacher and a pastor.
He began to show an active interest in politics in 1953 while he lived in Lusaka. In 1958, Kaunda formed the Zambian Africa National Congress (ZANC).
The ZANC was banned in March 1959 and in June, Kaunda was sentenced to nine months imprisonment.
Kaunda was released in 1960 and elected president of the United National Independence Party (UNIP), the successor to ZANC.
Kaunda or popularly known by his initials KK, led his country for 27 years, from 1964 to 1991 and was a leading figure in his country's independence movement.
After retiring from politics in 1991, he was involved in various charities with much of his energy going into the fight against the spread of HIV/Aids.
Kaunda lost his son Masuzyo, to the disease in 1986.
A great friend of the South African liberation struggle, he was close to veterans of the liberation movement such as Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Chris Hani and others.
In 2007, he was awarded the Ubuntu Award by the National Heritage Council for his role in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
African News Agency