52 Facts About Life and Times of Zambia's first President, Kenneth Kaunda - SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE MAGAZINE


Saturday, June 19, 2021

52 Facts About Life and Times of Zambia's first President, Kenneth Kaunda

 52 Facts About Life and Times of Zambian's first President, Kenneth Kaunda

By Charles Segun Adegbite

That the first president of Zambia and one of the last of the generation of African leaders who fought colonialism, Dr Kenneth Kaunda is dead, is no longer news. 

Published below are 54facts about his life:

  • His full name is Kenneth David Kaunda; fondly nicknamed  KK.
  • He was the founding President of Zambia who ruled the country from the time of independence in 1964 till 1991.
  • He was born on April 28, 1924, at Lubwa, near Chinsali, Northern Rhodesia(now Zambia), the year British Colonial Office took control of the territory from British South Africa Company(BSAC) as a colony. 
  • His parents were both teachers. While his father, Rev David Kaunda, was an ordained missionary of Church of Scotland, his mother was the first African woman to teach in Northern Rhodesia (later Zambia).
  • His father died while he was a child: He was the youngest of the eight children.
  • Kaunda got educated in Zambia and became a teacher in Tanganyika(now Tanzania). He was a boarding master and later headmaster. He was also a Choirmaster at the Church of Central Africa congregation .
  • In 1949 he returned to Zambia, became interpreter and adviser on African affairs to Sir Stewart Gore-Browne, a liberal white settler and member of of the Northern Rhodesian Legislative Council.
  • He started his political career by using the above opportunity to acquire knowledge of colonial government and political skill.
  • He joined the Northern Rhodesia African National Congress(ANC) in 1951, when Northern Rhodesia Congress (NRC) established under the leadership of Godwin Lewanika in 1948, was changed to Northern Rhodesia ANC, then the first major anti colonial organisation in Northern Rhodesia(Zambia) under  the leadership of Harry Nkumbula
  • He became the secretary-general of the Northern Rhodesia ANC in 1953, which brought him in close contact with the organisation's rank and file.
  • In 1958, Kaunda broke away, formed Zambian African National Congress(ZANC) and became its president, when the leadership of the Northern Rhodesia ANC clashed over whether to participate in coming elections of which only a minority of the black would be allowed to vote. 
  • He used the ANC operation structure to skillfully form a militant policy against the British plan for a federation of the three Central African colonies of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
  • He adopted a nonviolent action by using the Zambian congress to carry out civil disobedience against the federation policy.
  • In 1959, the ZANC was banned, and Kaunda was imprisoned along with other militant leaders, which elevated their status to national heroes, as the British had to modify its federation policy.
  • He was released on January 8, 1960, and elected president of the United National Independence Party(UNIP)
  • His leadership skill hastened the decolonization process and gave UNIP victory over ANC and the white minority settlers during the 1962 elections in October and December, into the Legislative Council in preparation for independence.
  • He published his autobiography, Zambia Shall Be Free in 1962.
  • He began to play continental role in 1963 when he became  President of the Pan African Freedom movement for East, Central and Southern Africa, leading to the dissolution of the federation on 31 December 1963.
  • On 24 October, 1964, the Republic of Zambia became an independent country, with Kaunda as the pioneer President. 
  • Like other African leaders, Kaunda faced many post independence problems, especially the issue of tribalism.
  • Through continuous negotiations he saved Zambia from the trauma of tribal civil war.
  • There were inter party political violence during the elections of 1968 that brought him to power for the second term.
  • He was chairman of the Organisation of African Unity(OAU), now African Union (AU), from 1970-71 and 1987-88.
  • In 1972, Kaunda imposed  one party rule on Zambia during which he secured a third term. 
  • In 1973 his government changed the nation's constitution, thereby ensuring that his party continued to rule.
  • The economic policies of his government led to large investment  in the copper mining sector with lesser attention to agriculture: This led to spending more on food subsidies.
  • Decline in the world price of copper(Zambia's chief export and major source of revenues) and the rising price of oil(its chief import) led to continuous deterioration of the nation's economy. This, coupled with the withdrawal of foreign aid and investment by developed countries affected the economy badly.
  • The economic crisis led to increase in unemployment, decline in living standards and education, thereby giving room for increase in opposition forces in the country.
  • In foreign affairs, Kaunda led other countries of Southern Africa in confronting the white minority government in the 1970s.
  • He imposed economic sanctions against Rhodesia and allowed Zambia to be used by black nationalist guerrillas led by Joshua Nkomo.
  • In 1976 he assumed emergency powers and was reelected as a sole presidential candidate  in 1978 and 1983 elections.
  • Several attempted coups to topple his government were reportedly aborted.
  • In 1990, in view of the growing opposition within the country against his government and international pressures, at the time apartheid was already crumbling in South Africa, he legalized opposition parties.
  • Kaunda set the stage for free, multiparty elections in 1991, which was held late that year.
  • In that 1991, he also founded the Kenneth Kaunda Peace Foundation; dedicated to peace and conflict resolution on the continent. 
  • The opposition party, Movement for Multiparty Democracy(MMD) defeated him and his UNIP in that year elections, in a landslide.
  • His successor, Frederick Chiluba later barred him from contesting again via a constitutional amendment the new administration carried out, when he(Kaunda) began to make moves to contest in the 1996 presidential election.
  • His opposition against the government over such amendment, among others, led to his arrest on December 25, 1997, on charges of inciting an attempted coup that had occurred earlier in October, that year.
  • Kaunda was released six days later, but placed under house arrest until all charges against him were withdrawn in June 1998.
  • In July he announced his intention to resign as UNIP's president once a successor is chosen, but he didn't resign  due to lack of agreement on who the successor would be.
  • His other son, Wezi Kaunda, was murdered in October 1999,  making him to announce his withdraw from domestic politics in year 2000,
  • His son, Tilyenji Kaunda, took over in 2001 as the president of UNIP, the party KK founded in 1960 and led for 40years(1960-2000). Tilyenji led the party for 20years before he was defeated during the party's election  in April this year.
  • In March 1999, a judge ruled that Kaunda should be stripped of his Zambian citizenship, on a point that his parents were from Malawi. 
  • Kaunda challenged the ruling and his citizenship was restored in 2000 when the petition that generated the court ruling was withdrawn.
  • He devoted his latter years fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa, by forming Kenneth Kaunda Children of Africa Foundation,  over his son, Masuzyo Kaunda, who died of the disease in 1986.
  • In 2002 he was appointed Balfour African President-in-Residence at Boston University, USA.
  • In 2003, he was awarded the Grand Order of the Eagle in Zambia by Chiluba's successor, President Levi Nwanawasa.
  • For his exceptional contributions to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and for justice in the Southern African region, he was awarded The Order of the Companions of O.R.Tambo in Gold.
  • The nonagenarian leader was reportedly admitted to a military hospital in the capital, Lusaka, on Monday June 14, 2021, over pneumonia.
  • He died on Thursday June 17, 2021
  • A 7-Day mourning was declared by Botswana President in honour of this Zambian first president, during which all flags must fly at half mast, during the mourning period in Bostwana. 
  • His marriage with Mrs Betty Kaunda,(who died in 2012) in 1946, produced eight children, including Tilyenji Kaunda.
  • Zambian government has declared 21days of mourning for  the liberation hero, who the incumbent President Edgar Lungu described as, "our first president and true African icon"


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