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Zambia’s founding president, Kenneth Kaunda, dies at 97

Zambia’s founding president, Kenneth Kaunda, dies at 97

dpa
Lusaka
Zambia’s founding president Kenneth Kaunda has died of pneumonia at the age of 97, his sons Panji and Kambarage Kaunda confirmed to dpa on Thursday.
Three days ago, Kaunda was admitted to a military hospital in Lusaka.
Officials did not specify his illness at the time and little has been said about his treatment, but it came as the the southern African nation sees a climb in COVID-19 cases.
A missionary’s son and trained teacher, Kaunda was considered one of the last survivors in the company of African independence heroes.
Referred to by Zambians simply as KK, Kaunda ruled from 1964 until 1991. During his time in power, Zambia became a one-party state, effectively giving him absolute control. He adopted a nationalist-socialist ideology called humanism.
Kaunda is applauded for building schools and hospitals - the colonial government made little investment in such areas. After retiring from politics he was also active in charity work through his Kenneth Kaunda Children of Africa Foundation, an organization addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The youngest of eight children, Kaunda’s father died when he was 8 years old. His mother was a teacher - a rare profession for Zambian women in those days.
He started his political career as organizing secretary of the Northern Rhodesia African National Congress (ANC) in the Northern Province of Zambia.
But in 1958 he broke from the ANC to form the Zambian African National Congress (ZANC). The colonial authorities banned it a year later, and Kaunda was imprisoned in the capital Lusaka for nine months.
ZANC became the United Party for National Development (UNIP) in 1959.
The following year Kaunda was released from prison and elected president of UNIP. He then stared organizing civil disobedience known as the Cha-cha-cha campaign.
It was the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi that made Kaunda become committed to non-violent principles.
Using his rhetorical skills to appeal to the public, Kaunda won independence for his nation without resorting to violence in 1964. As UNIP president, he ruled Zambia for 27 years.

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