Last Living Leaders of Africa’s Independence Struggle & Zambia’s Founding President Kenneth Kaunda Dies

ADDIS ABABA –  Kenneth Kaunda, who was one of the last of the generation of African leaders who fought colonialism and founding President of Zambia, has died at 97.

Kaunda was being treated for pneumonia at a military hospital in the capital Lusaka, before his death was reported on Thursday.

His death was confirmed by Zambia’s current President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, who said in a Facebook post Thursday: “I learnt of your passing this afternoon with great sadness.

“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,” the President added.

In the 1950s, Kaunda was a key figure in what was then Northern Rhodesia’s independence movement from Britain.

He became president following the southern African country’s independence from Britainndependence in 1964, and went on to rule Zambia for 27 years

He stepped down peacefully after losing multi-party elections in 1991.

Kaunda – popularly known as KK – was a strong supporter of efforts to end apartheid in South Africa. He was also a leading supporter of liberation movements in Mozambique and Northern Rhodesia — which would later become independent as the Republic of Zambia.

In later life, he became a beloved African statesman in his post-presidency, dedicating much of his time to the fight against HIV/AIDS, after the disease claimed the life of his son.

“We fought colonialism. We must now use the same zeal to fight Aids, which threatens to wipe out Africa,” he told Reuters in 2002.

His signature safari jacket paired with a formal trouser is still known as a Kaunda suit in many parts of Africa.

A 21-day period of national mourning has been declared, Simon Miti, Secretary to the Cabinet and Principal Private Secretary to the President, announced on state TV.