President Lazarus Chakwera has said he is “saddened” by the passing of Zambia’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda, who died at a military hospital in the capital, Lusaka, after he was hospitalized for pneumonia on Monday aged 97.
Chakwera, who is the incoming Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) chairperson, said in a statement issued on Thursday that Dr. Kaunda’s life was inextricably intertwined with the history of Malawi’s independence, from the time he, together with Dr. [Kamuzu] Banda, fought for the freedom of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in the colonial days.
“Through his passing, we have lost a part of our history, a renegade, a Pan Africanist, and a friend of our country who never tired in wishing us well through his counsel and goodwill,” Chakwera’s statement said.
Immediately after Kaunda’s death was known, Zambia’s president, Edgar Lungu, said he had learnt of his predecessor’s death “with great sadness.
“You have gone at a time we least expected but we are comforted that you are now with Our Father, God Almighty in heaven,” Lungu wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday evening.
Former President Dr Bakili Muluzi showered praise on the great leader whom he described as the “last pillar of independence struggle.”
“Our thoughts are with the family. KK was a great leader and his dedication to the independence struggle shall always be remembered. His peace broking on the continent will be missed,” mourned Dr Muluzi.
In a brief statement released by the party’s spokesman, Frank Mwenifumbo, they said: “We are now orphaned of knowledge and counsel, in your departure. As you go down your last mile, your legacy will live on.”
Leader of Opposition in parliament, Kondwani Nankhumwa, wrote in a statement on Thursday that Kaunda was “an outstanding leader and a distinguished African statesman” who passionately spent his energies in ensuring the well-being of not only Zambians, but also that of Malawians and others in the region and on the continent.
“The people of Zambia have lost a wise, visionary and loving leader whose standing with the people of Zambia made him the darling of all, irrespective of political ideology, color or creed. Dr. Kenneth Kaunda’s famous ‘One Zambia One Nation’ slogan instilled the importance of national unity in all Zambians, resulting in Zambia being one of the most peaceful nations on the globe,” Nankhumwa’s statement reads.
Kaunda, 97, who ruled Zambia from 1964 to 1991, died on Thursday in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka where he was being treated for pneumonia.
Kaunda’s death comes days after reports that he was admitted to Maina Soko Military hospital where he was treated for pneumonia from Monday this week.
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 Southern Rhodesia and South Africa.
Kaunda who had become one of the most committed activists against HIV/AIDS in Africa after his presidency, was a close ally of Kamuzu Banda, the founding President of Malawi, from the sixties to the time of Banda’s demise.
Taking after Mahatma Gandhi, Kaunda was a proponent of nonviolent activism and will well be remembered and revered for assisting liberation movements in the countries of Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Chakwera said he was joining all Heads of State and Governments and citizens of Africa and beyond in mourning the loss of a great Statesman, who championed the spirit of togetherness, and represented the last of his generation of pioneer freedom fighters in Sub-Saharan Africa through his mantra “tiyende pamodzi, ndi mtima umodzi.”
With the advent of multiparty Kaunda lost his power to President Fredrick Chiluba in 1997 who later tried to deport him, claiming he was a Malawian.
In 1999 the Zambian high court had declared Kaunda stateless, a decision which was reversed by the Zambian Supreme Court after an appeal.
The Zambian government has since declared 21 days of mourning with all entertainment activities banned for the fallen founding father and liberation hero.
The late president Kaunda was born and bred in Zambia, then Northern Rhodesia, but his family, both his father and father were originally from Nkhata Bay District in the northeast of Malawi and migrated to that country for pastures anew .
Kaunda started his career in Zambian politics in the early 1950’s when he worked with the African National Congress.
Alongside Malawi’s Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, Zimbabwe’s Joshua Mkomo, Tanzania’s Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Mozambique’s Samora Machel, Kenya’s Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Kaunda spearheaded a rigorous fight for the liberation of Africa from the colonialists.
Church of Scotland missionary and teacher, an immigrant from Malawi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :