Nations pay tribute to the late founding president of Zambia, who is respected for helping many movements on the African continent fight colonialism.
African leaders paid tribute to the founding president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 97 and announced several days of mourning in their respective countries.
During his administration, Kaunda presided over many campaigns for independence or black equality in other countries on the African continent, and supported white minority rule in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
Namibia’s President Haag Geingob said in a statement that Africa has lost “a giant”.
“Kenneth Kaunda is a generous, amiable and decisive leader who liberated our region from colonialism.”
Africa has lost a giant. Kenneth Kaunda, we affectionately call him “KK”, he is generous, amiable, and most importantly, resolutely liberating our region from colonialism. We lost KK. However, Africans and Namibians are forever grateful for his outstanding contribution to freedom. RIP KK
-Hage G. Geingob (@hagegeingob) June 17, 2021
In order to thank him for his contributions to various struggles, some African countries announced different periods of mourning on Friday and lowered their national flags to half mast.
The President of South Africa announced that South Africa will mourn for 10 days and Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania will mourn for 7 days.
Zimbabwe will mourn for three days.
“Father of African Independence”
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa described Kaunda as “the well-deserved father of African independence and unity.”
“Under his leadership, Zambia provides shelter, care and support for liberation fighters who have been forced to flee their country of birth,” Ramaphosa said.
“When we needed help most, he fought side by side with the people of South Africa and steadfastly yearned for our freedom. We can never repay our gratitude,” Ramaphosa added.
Kaunda provided logistical assistance to some African liberation movements, including the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) separated from Southern Rhodesia, and the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa.
ANC’s Radio Freedom was allowed to broadcast in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. Under the protection of Kaunda, ANC launched an armed struggle and then a diplomatic struggle against apartheid.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame said in a tweet that Kaunda “will never forget its commitment to the liberation of Africa.”
He said: “His leadership on the African continent and the legacy of Pan-Africanism will be passed on from generation to generation.”
I extend my sincere condolences to the family of President Kenneth Kaunda and the people of Zambia. His commitment to the liberation of Africa will never be forgotten. His leadership on the African continent and the legacy of Pan-Africanism will be passed on from generation to generation.
— Paul Kagame (@PaulKagame) June 18, 2021
Ugandan opposition leader Bobby Wahn said that Kaunda is one of the “few surviving independent heroes” in Africa.
Kaunda ruled Zambia for 27 years and took the helm after the country gained independence from Britain in October 1964.
On Friday, President Edgar Lungu told mourners at the Kaunda home in Lusaka: “For our founding fathers, when the region and the African continent are still under the shackles of colonialism and apartheid. It is not enough for his country Zambia to be liberated.”
“He insisted on seeking freedom for mankind,” Lungu said.
The funeral plan is still to be announced, but his motherland is mourning for 21 days across the country.
After retiring, Kaunda became a respected voice of experience on the African continent, from mediating conflicts to fighting AIDS after the disease killed one of his own sons.
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said: “He is brave, compassionate and tireless in fighting stigma and discrimination related to AIDS.”