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Kenneth Kaunda

President Ronald Reagan and Kenneth David Kaunda (cropped).jpg
Kaunda in 1983
1st President of Zambia
In office
24 October 1964 – 2 November 1991
Vice President
Preceded by Evelyn Hone as Governor of Northern Rhodesia
Succeeded by Frederick Chiluba
3rd Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement
In office
8 September 1970 – 5 September 1973
Preceded by Gamal Abdel Nasser
Succeeded by Houari Boumédiène
Personal details
Kenneth David Kaunda

(1924-04-28)28 April 1924
Chinsali, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia)
Died 17 June 2021(2021-06-17) (aged 97)
Lusaka, Zambia
Political party UNIP
Betty Kaunda
(m. 1946; her death 2012)
Children 8, including Tilyenji
Profession Teacher

Kenneth David Kaunda (28 April 1924 – 17 June 2021), also known as KK, was a Zambian politician who served as the first president of Zambia from 1964 to 1991. He was at the forefront of the struggle for independence from British rule. Dissatisfied with Harry Nkumbula's leadership of the Northern Rhodesian African National Congress, he broke away and founded the Zambian African National Congress, later becoming the head of the United National Independence Party (UNIP). He was the first president of the independent Zambia. In 1973 following tribal and inter-party violence, all political parties except UNIP were banned through an amendment of the constitution after the signing of the Choma Declaration. At the same time, Kaunda oversaw the acquisition of majority stakes in key foreign-owned companies. The oil crisis of 1973 and a slump in export revenues put Zambia in a state of economic crisis. International pressure forced Kaunda to change the rules that had kept him in power. Multi-party elections took place in 1991, in which Frederick Chiluba, the leader of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy, ousted Kaunda.

Kaunda was briefly stripped of Zambian citizenship in 1999, but the decision was overturned the following year.

Kaunda died on 17 June 2021 at a hospital in Lusaka, Zambia from pneumonia at the age of 97.

Awards and honours

  • On 21 May 1963, he received an honouary degree of Doctor of Laws from Fordham University
  • On 28 May 1975 was made Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry
  • On 10 December 2002 Kaunda was awarded the Supreme Companion of OR Tambo by South Africa
  • On 4 October 2007 was made a Commander of the Most Courteous Order of Lesotho
  • On 19 October 2007 Kaunda was the recipient of the 2007 Ubuntu Award

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