Zambia’s government has declared 21 days of National mourning over the passing of the nation’s beloved founding father, icon and global statesman, Kenneth Kaunda.
First president of Zambia in 1964 after its independence from Britain until 1991; Kaunda died peacefully at 2:30 pm on Thursday of pneumonia at a military hospital where he had been receiving treatment since Monday.
“On behalf of the entire nation and on my own behalf, I pray that the entire Kaunda family is comforted as we mourn our first president and true African icon,” President Edgar Lungu said in a message on his Facebook page.
“You have gone at a time we least expected,” Lungu added.
In neighbouring Botswana, President Mokgweetsi Masisi has also declared seven days of mourning in honour of the “charismatic” and “selfless” Kaunda, whom he described as an “iconic statesman of the highest credentials.”
Known as “Africa’s Gandhi” Kaunda was a high-profile figure among the seven southern African states for his fight as an activist for independent movement, racial justice and equality.
He let Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) make a home-in-exile in Lusaka during the three decades it was banned in South Africa.
Kaunda also played a major role in Mozambique’s independence talks in 1975, Zimbabwe’s in 1980 and Namibia’s in 1990.