June 17, (THEWILL)- The first President of Zambia, and one of Africa’s liberation giants, Kenneth Kaunda, has died on Thursday following a struggle with pneumonia.
He was aged 97.
Kaunda documented his role and those of other nationalists in his classic novel, “Zambia Must Be Free,” a chronicle of the indigenes’ struggle against white supremacists and colonialists that resulted in the birth of this East African nation.
Kaunda’s death comes days after reports that he was admitted to Maina Soko military hospital in the capital, Lusaka.
His son, Kambarage Kaunda, announced his father’s death via a post on his Facebook page.
“Dear members, I’m sad to inform, we have lost ‘Mzee’. Let’s pray for him”, he wrote.
Kambarage asked for prayers for his father whom he called Mzee.
Nicknamed the “African Gandhi” for his non-violent activism, Kaunda led the former British protectorate Northern Rhodesia to bloodless Independence in October 1964.
One of the first generation of post-Independence African leaders, Kenneth Kaunda led his vulnerable and landlocked nation through a perilous era in southern Africa.
It was his most outstanding achievement that during his 27 years in power, he maintained domestic stability in a comparatively benign manner while providing bases for the movements struggling against his far more powerful White neighbours in Rhodesia and South Africa.
While in power, Kaunda hosted many movements fighting for Independence or Black equality in other countries in the region, including the African National Congress (ANC) party of South Africa.
Also known as “KK,” he was the leader of the main nationalist party, the center-left UNIP.
He also became an AIDS activist when he publicly announced that one of his sons had died of the disease.
Although, a socialist, whose mismanagement led to a severe economic and social crisis,, he accepted free elections in 1991 and was defeated.