Kenneth Kaunda’s final journey across his beloved Zambia is set to begin on Wednesday.
The country’s vice president Inonge Wina announced on Zambian state television that it was “the wish of the family of His Excellency Dr. Kaunda, that the remains of our Founding Father be taken around to all the 10 Provinces of our
great country and the Government has agreed to respect this wish. The programme for the Provincial visits, will commence in Choma, Southern Province on Wednesday 23rd June, 2021 and end in Lusaka Province on Monday 5th July, 2021.”
Kaunda, Zambia’s founding president will be buried on 7 July, three weeks after he died aged 97, the Zambian presidency announced on Monday. The hero of the struggle against white rule in southern Africa “shall be put to rest at a very private ceremony for family and selected invited mourners,” Wina said on Zambian state television.
Kenneth David Kaunda, (born April 28, 1924, Lubwa, near Chinsali, Northern Rhodesia [now Zambia]—died June 17, 2021, Lusaka, Zambia), a politician who led Zambia to independence in 1964 and served as that country’s president until 1991.
According to the Zambian government In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, foreign leaders may be accompanied by just one official.
Wina said to accord Kaunda “respect and dignity, while showing love and support to the family and in compliance with our national COVID-19 protocols, I would like to state that there shall be no physical body viewing. However, the entire procession including the church service will be carried live on TV.”
She said the government of the Republic of Zambia has designated Friday, 2nd July 2021 as the date for Kaunda’s ceremonial state funeral to allow for the participation of international dignitaries.
“This State Funeral will be held at Heroes Stadium here in Lusaka,” she said.
Wina added that “in respecting his legacy, party regalia or party Symbols of any kind, including Party-branded face masks, will not be allowed at any activity during this period of mourning his excellency Dr Kaunda. We are mourning Dr Kaunda as Zambians…” she said.
Tributes from all over the world kept pouring in from the world`s most renowned politicians acclaiming the greatest contribution that the fallen hero has contributed to the independence of the Nation of Zambia.
“Africa has lost a giant of a man. Kenneth Kaunda, ‘KK’ as we affectionately called him was generous, affable, above all resolute to free our region from colonialism. We lost KK. But, Africans and Namibians are eternally grateful for his stellar contributions to freedom. R.I.P KK,” Said Hage G. Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia.
In appreciation for his contribution to their various struggles, some African have announced varying periods of mourning and lowered their national flags to half-mast. South Africa will mourn for 10 days, while Botswana, Namibia, and Tanzania will pay their respects for seven days, their presidents announced. Zimbabwe will mourn over three days.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa described Kaunda as a “rightfully revered father of African independence and unity”.
“Under his leadership, Zambia provided refuge, care, and support to liberation fighters who had been forced to flee the countries of their birth,” Ramaphosa said.
Kaunda had provided logistical help to several African liberation movements, including the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) and the breakaway Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) of Southern Rhodesia and the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa.’
The charismatic president who won accolades for bowing out peacefully after losing an election was also the authoritarian who introduced a one-party state. The pioneer of “African socialism” was the man who cut a supply-side deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In 1996, Kaunda tried to make a political comeback, but he was blocked when Chiluba forced through constitutional amendments which declared the former “Father of the Nation” a foreigner because his parents came from Malawi.
He was arrested in December 1997 and charged with treason following a coup attempt by junior army officers two months earlier. He was detained in a maximum-security prison but later placed under house arrest until the state dropped the charges.
The nationalist leader is known for personal probity planned to give huge tracts of farmland to an Indian guru. The revolutionary who gave sanctuary to liberation movements was also a friend of US presidents.
‘‘My heartfelt condolences to the family of President Kenneth Kaunda and the people of Zambia. His commitment to Africa’s liberation will never be forgotten. His leadership on the continent and legacy of Pan-Africanism will live on for generations to come,” said Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda.
The African Union Chair H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, issued a statement on behalf of the AU sending his condolences to the Zambian nation and the family of Kenneth Kaunda.
“Africa has lost one of its finest sons. He embodied the true sense of Pan-Africanism, placing his own country Zambia at grave risk in order to provide safe harbour for the liberation movements of Southern Africa as well as its peoples. His championing of the Frontline States to defeat Apartheid and white minority rule in Southern Africa laid the foundation for what we call regional integration today,” chairperson of the African Union H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat said in a statement from Addis Ababa.
Kaunda acquired knowledge of the colonial government as well as political skills, both of which served him well when later that year he joined the African National Congress (ANC), the first major anti-colonial organization in Northern Rhodesia
In the early 1950s, Kaunda became the ANC’s secretary-general, functioning as its chief organizing officer, a role that brought him into close contact with the movement’s rank and file. Thus, when the leadership of the ANC clashed over strategy in 1958–59, Kaunda carried a major part of the ANC operating structure into a new organization, the Zambia African National Congress.
In 2002 Kaunda was appointed the Balfour African President-in-Residence at Boston University in the United States, a position he held until 2004. In 2003 he was awarded the Grand Order of the Eagle in Zambia by Chiluba’s successor, Pres. Levy Mwanawasa.
“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.
In a rare public appearance in September 2019, at the age of 95, he spoke out strongly against a wave of attacks in South Africa against foreigners from other African countries. In his later years, he led a quiet life, mostly staying at home and only occasionally appearing at state functions. Kaunda was not ashamed to weep in public and had a unique speaking style, emphasizing key thoughts by repeating whole sentences, his trademark white handkerchief in his left hand.
“Our brothers and sisters in South Africa should remember that these same people they are treating with cruelty are the same people who were comrades in arms in fighting the brutal apartheid regime,” Kaunda said.
Kaunda will be remembered as a giant of 20th century African nationalism—a leader who, at great cost, gave refuge to revolutionary movements, a relatively benign autocrat who reluctantly introduced democracy to his country, and an international diplomat who punched well above his weight in world affairs.