Zambia has dedicated April 28 as a new national holiday to commemorate the birth date of late ex-President Kenneth Kaunda. The declaration was made by President Edgar Lungu during Kaunda’s memorial service.
Kaunda died of pneumonia on June, 17. He was 97. His death pre-empted conflict between the State and his family. His family led by his son Kaweche Kaunda filed a petition in the High Court seeking to bury him at their farm next to his wife. Betty Kaunda died on 19 September 2012, at 84.
The High Court declined the wish ordering that the statesman be laid to rest at the Presidential’s Burial Site. He was buried rest yesterday, the ceremony broadcast live to restrict in-person attendance due to Covid-19.
Kaunda was born on April 28, 1924, to a teacher mother and reverend father who had migrated from Malawi. He was a teacher by profession and served as Zambia’s first-in-office from 1964 to 1991.
President overthrow attempt
There was an attempt to overthrow him as president in July 1990. He lost the seat on November 2, 1991, handing over power to the diminutive Frederick Chiluba. He disapproved of Chiluba’s administration, and the incumbent attempted to deport him to Malawi. He successfully stopped the attempt at the Zambia Supreme Court.
Kaunda resigned from politics in 1998 and focussed on the fight against HIV/AIDS. His motivation to fight the epidemic must have stemmed from one of his eight children succumbing to the virus in the eighties.