President Muhammadu Buhari has described Zambia’s founding father and independence nationalist Kenneth Kaunda as “one of the greatest African and world leaders of all time who loved his country and people profoundly.”
Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s founding president and liberation hero, died at a military hospital in the capital, Lusaka, where he was being treated for pneumonia. He was 97.
Kaunda ruled Zambia from 1964, when the Southern African nation won its independence from Britain, until 1991, and afterwards became one of the most committed activists against HIV/AIDS in Africa
“I am sad to inform [members] we have lost Mzee [the old man]. Let’s pray for him,” Kaunda’s son Kambarage said on the late president’s Facebook page on Thursday.
“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.
Reacting to Kaunda’s death at the age of 97, the President said, according to a statement from his office, “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.”
According to President Buhari, “we can’t forget in a hurry how Kaunda gave shelter to anti-apartheid freedom fighters from South Africa and from former Rhodesia.”
The Nigerian leader noted that “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.”
President Buhari extended his condolences and that of the nation to the family, the government and people of Zambia over Kaunda’s death.