Zambia’s first President Kenneth Kaunda has been admitted to a military hospital in Lusaka. The 97-year-old African leader ruled Zambia from 1964, when the country gained independence from Britain, until 1991. Kaunda’s spokesman, Rodrick Ngolo, asked the Zambian people to pray for his health, and President Edgar Lungu also asked the nation to remember Kaunda.
Zambia’s « father of the nation », Kenneth Kaunda, is in a « serious but stable condition », a source close to the former President said. « The 97-year-old, who was president from 1964 to 1991, was admitted to hospital on Tuesday with a minor lung infection and was actually expected to be discharged today, » the BBC said.
Nicknamed the « African Gandhi » for his non-violent activism, Kenneth Kaunda led the former British protectorate Northern Rhodesia to bloodless independence in October 1964. A socialist and close to Moscow, he ruled the country for 27 years, largely under a one-party regime, whose mismanagement led to a severe economic and social crisis.
After violent riots, Kenneth Kaunda accepted free elections in 1991 and was defeated. After retiring from politics, he became active in humanitarian work through the Children’s Foundation, an AIDS organisation.
It should be recalled that when he was in power, the former head of state hosted many movements fighting for independence or black equality in other countries of the sub-region, including Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) party in South Africa.