Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s First President, Dies at 97

Zambia’s former president Kenneth Kaunda attends the 40th anniversary of independence in Lusaka October 24, 2004, after the government publicly apologized for arresting and jailing him on trumped-up charges in 1997. Known as Northern Rhodesia under British rule, Zambia won independence from Britain following successful negotiations with freedom fighters led by Kenneth Kaunda, the founding president. REUTERS/Salim Henry RSS/GB/File Photo

Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s first president and one of the last of the generation of African leaders who fought colonialism, has died aged 97.

Kaunda was admitted to a military hospital in the capital, Lusaka, on Monday suffering from pneumonia. His aides said he did not have Covid-19.

In the 1950s, Kaunda was a key figure in what was then Northern Rhodesia’s independence movement from Britain.

He became president following independence in 1964.

As head of the left-leaning United National Independence Party (UNIP), Kaunda then led the country through decades of one-party rule.

He stepped down after losing multi-party elections in 1991.

“I am sad to inform we have lost Mzee,” Kaunda’s son, Kambarage, wrote on his late father’s Facebook page, using a term of respect. “Let’s pray for him.”

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