Zambia: Buhari, Obasanjo, Jonathan Mourn Zambia's Founding Father, Kaunda

Kenneth Kaunda, First President of the Republic of Zambia, at a ceremony marking the fortieth anniversary of Africa Day in New York in 2003.
18 June 2021

President Muhammadu Buhari and two of his predecessors, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, have mourned the founding father of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda.

Kaunda, the first president of Zambia, died yesterday at the age of 97.

He ruled for 27 years from 1964 after Zambia gained independence from Britain.

Kaunda was said to have been admitted to Maina Soko military hospital in the capital, Lusaka, where he was treated for pneumonia on Monday.

Reacting to Kaunda's death, Buhari described the former leader as "one of the greatest African and world leaders of all time who loved his country and people profoundly."

In a statement by his spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, the president said: "I have received his passing with great shock because I knew his contributions to the development of not only Zambia but also Africa at large. "We can't forget in a hurry how Kaunda gave shelter to anti-apartheid freedom fighters from South Africa and from former Rhodesia.

"The late Kaunda was one of the loudest voices for the liberation of Africa from colonialism and imperialism and he did so with passion and sincerity. It is impossible to reflect on Kaunda's legacy without acknowledging his selflessness and passion for service."

Buhari extended his condolences and that of Nigeria to the family, the government and people of Zambia.

In his condolence message, Obasanjo said the death of Kaunda ended the roll-call of living pioneers and forefathers who led the struggles for the decolonisation of the African continent.

Obasanjo, in a statement yesterday, said he arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, only to receive the sad news of the death of Kaunda.

In a tribute with the caption: "Gone if the last of the Mohicans: Tribute to Kenneth Kaunda,"

Obasanjo urged all Africans and friends of Africa to "take solace in the knowledge that President Kaunda has gone home to a well-deserved rest and to proudly take his place beside his brothers such as Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal, Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, Ahmed Sékou Touré of Guinea, Félix Houphouët-Boigny of Côte d'Ivoire, Patrice Lumumba of Congo, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, to name but a few."

"All of them, without exception, were nationalists who made sacrifices in diverse ways," he added.

Jonathan also paid tribute to the former Zambian leader.

In a condolence message to his family and the government of Zambia, the former president described the deceased as a foremost pan-Africanist who was of significance to the continent's struggle for liberation.

Jonathan also described his relationship with the late sage as cordial, adding that he visited him in Yenagoa during his time as the governor of Bayelsa State.

"I am deeply saddened by the passing on of former Zambian President and foremost Pan-Africanist, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, who died today at the age of 97 years.

"Not only was he of very great significance to Africa's struggle for liberation he was also quite significant to me. I met him as a much younger politician and I am glad to have maintained a close relationship with the great sage.

"Kaunda was a specimen of the highest level of patriotism. He was also a strong promoter of pan-Africanism, an idea that has reached maturity with the African Continental Free Trade Area, which itself was a product of the vision of men and women like Mr. Kaunda," Jonathan added.

Jonathan also recalled that Kaunda visited him a couple of times when he was in office as President of Nigeria. "We last saw each other in 2016 when I visited him while I was in Zambia as Head of the African Union (AU) Election Observation Mission," he stated.

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