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Kenneth Kaunda (1924–2021), Zambia’s former president and liberator

by Linnea Crowther

Kenneth Kaunda was the former president of Zambia, who led the fight to free the country from British rule.

Freedom for Zambia

Kaunda became involved in Zambia’s struggle for independence in the late 1940s, when the country was known as Northern Rhodesia. He led the Zambian African National Congress, and later the United National Independence Party, advising civil disobedience tactics in the fight for freedom. When Zambia gained ins freedom in 1964, Kaunda was named its first president. In 1972, as uprisings troubled Zambia, Kaunda outlawed all political parties but his own. He remained in power, and a largely popular leader, until 1991, when a multi-party election ousted him from the presidency. In later years, Kaunda was remembered fondly for his role in freeing the country and for maintaining relative stability during his time in office.

Notable quote

“Peace, unity, love. One Zambia, one nation. That is what I believe and that is what we have. Look around Africa, what do you see? Starvation. War. Chaos. Look at our poor brothers in Zaire, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Uganda. Zambia is at peace, not in pieces.” —from a 1991 campaign speech


Tributes to Kenneth Kaunda

Full obituary: The New York Times

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