Zambia: Africa mourns Kenneth Kaunda’s death

Many of the continent's leading figures have appropriately paid tribute to the memory of Zambia's first ever president who died…

Many of the continent’s leading figures have appropriately paid tribute to the memory of Zambia’s first ever president who died on Thursday at the age of 97 years.The Grim Reaper has hit Zambia hard. The former British protectorate lost the father of the independence it gained in October 1964 on June 17. The current head of state, Edgar Lungu, said he felt “deep regret and sadness” when he confirmed the bad news to his compatriots in a statement.

The president said Kenneth Kaunda passed away “peacefully” at 2.30pm (12.30pm GMT) at the Maina Soko Medical Centre in Lusaka where he was admitted for pneumonia treatment.

To honor his memory, the Zambian president declared a 21-day national mourning period throughout the country. “During this period, all celebratory activities are suspended with immediate effect and flags are flown at half-mast,” said the document signed by Simon Miti, the government’s Secretary General.

In addition, the same source said it will provide the public with “details of the programme set for the funeral and burial” in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 control guidelines.

Kenneth Kaunda, nicknamed ‘KK’, ruled the former Northern Rhodesia until 1991. The ‘African Gandhi’ thus presided over the destiny of this southern African country for 27 years.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, the President of the African Union (AU) Commission, described the death of the socialist leader as an “indescribable loss.” The Chadian-born AUC boss also recalled that the deceased is “one of the founding fathers of the Organization of African Unity (OAU, now AU).”

According to Paul Kagame, the “commitment” of Kenneth Kaunda “for the liberation of Africa will never be forgotten.” The Rwandan president also believes that “his leadership on the continent and the legacy of pan-Africanism will live on for generations to come.”

The President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu, said she was “deeply saddened” by the death.

Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan head of state, mourned his “elder.” Mzee, the wise man as he affectionately called him in Swahili, still had a “sharp brain” according to him.


Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, said that “the sun has set on a great and good man” who “fought and liberated Africa from colonial rule.” Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, offered his “sincere condolences to the people of Zambia at this difficult time.”

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