Memorial for the first president of Zambia

A state memorial service for Zambia’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda, was held with a 21-gun salute and a flypast by the Air Force.

Mr. Kaunda died last month at the age of 97 from pneumonia.

He was one of the last of a generation of African leaders who fought against colonial rule and became president after Zambia gained independence in 1964.

The service took place at a stadium in the capital, Lusaka, where foreign dignitaries paid tribute.


A number of African leaders attended the memorial to pay their respects


The president received a 21-gun salute at the memorial

After his death, the government declared three weeks of national mourning, with the suspension of all forms of entertainment. His body was also transported across the country for members of the public to pay tribute to him.

Zambian President Edgar Lungu has also declared public holidays for the memorial and funeral days – which will be held in private next Wednesday.

Among those in attendance at Friday’s ceremony were the leaders of Kenya and Ghana, as well as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who shared footage from the day on social media.

Kaunda – popularly known as KK – was a strong supporter of efforts to end apartheid in South Africa. He was also one of the main supporters of the liberation movements in Mozambique and what is now Zimbabwe.

Speaking at the ceremony, African Union President Moussa Faki Mahamat said Kaunda was “a giant among men” and “the last of the founding fathers to deliver independence to much more than his own land “.

“Without the altruistic efforts of his generation, I would not be before you today because the African Union would not exist,” added Mr. Mahamat. “We are eternally indebted to Kenneth Kaunda and the people of Zambia.”

An appropriate memorial

Namesa Maseko, BBC News, Lusaka

A final public appearance, a final bow from Kenneth Kaunda, founding president of Zambia.

Draped in his country’s flag, his coffin was brought to Lusaka Show Grounds by the Zambian army. It was a worthy memorial to the father of African nationalism.

Ordinary Zambians came out to show their last respects. They waved their white handkerchiefs in mourning. It was an object he carried with him when he was incarcerated during the liberation struggle.

“May God take his soul and place it where only deceased loved ones reside,” one grieving person told me.

African leaders, past and present, were present. They too spoke of Kaunda’s legacy and said they will be remembered as a kind-hearted liberator and a leader who put Africa’s interest ahead of his own.


The memorial service was held at a stadium in the capital, Lusaka


Kenneth Kaunda ruled Zambia for 27 years

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

He has been dubbed by some “Africa’s Gandhi” for his nonviolent approach to activism.

As head of the left-wing United Party for National Independence (UNIP), Kaunda went on to rule the country through decades of one-party rule.


Kaunda was heavily influenced by the policies of Martin Luther King

But his popularity at home waned as he grew more autocratic, and he resigned after losing the multiparty elections in 1991.

Later in her life, Kaunda turned to the fight against HIV after the death of one of her sons, Masuzyo, from an AIDS-related illness.

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


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