Kenneth Kaunda
Kenneth Kaunda
Succeeded byFrederick Chiluba
Personal details
Kenneth David Kaunda

(1924-04-28)April 28, 1924
Lubwa, near Chinsali, Northern Rhodesia
DiedJune 17, 2021(2021-06-17) (aged 97)
  • Former President of the Republic of Zambia
Known forBeing the founding President of Zambia

Kenneth David Kaunda is the founding president of Zambia.

Kaunda was admitted to Maina Soko Medical Center, a treatment center for Covid-19 in Lusaka, Zambia. He died on 17 June 2021.


Kenneth Kaunda was born in Lubwa, near Chinsali, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia).[1]


Kaunda's father was a schoolteacher from Nyasaland (now Malawi). His mother was the first African woman to teach in colonial Zambia. Both his parents taught among the Bemba ethnic group in northern Zambia.[1]


Kaunda was born on 28 April 1924.[1]


Betty Kaunda

In 2012, she died in Harare, aged 84. Betty Kaunda was married to Kenneth Kaunda for 66 years.[2]


Son Kaweche


Kenneth Kaunda received his early education in northern Zambia, completing secondary school in the early 1940s. He also began to teach, first in colonial Zambia and in the middle 1940s in Tanganyika (now Tanzania).[1]

Political Career

Struggle Against Colonial Rule

In 1949, Kenneth Kaunda returned to Zambia from Tanzania. In that year he became interpreter and adviser on African affairs to Sir Stewart Gore-Browne, a liberal white settler and a member of the Northern Rhodesian Legislative Council.

Kaunda acquired knowledge of the colonial government as well as political skills, both of which served him well when later that year he joined the African National Congress (ANC), the first major anti-colonial organization in Northern Rhodesia.

In the early 1950s Kaunda became the ANC’s secretary-general, functioning as its chief organizing officer, a role that brought him into close contact with the movement’s rank and file. When the leadership of the ANC clashed over strategy in 1958–59, Kaunda formed the Zambia African National Congress (ZANC) together with a majority of former ANC colleagues.

As president of the ZANC, Kaunda forged a militant policy against the British plan for a federation of the three central African colonies—Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland.

Kaunda employed a “positive nonviolent action” which had two major results: first, the British government modified the federation policy and eventually agreed to discard it; second, Kaunda and other militant leaders were imprisoned which led to their elevation as national heroes in the eyes of the people.

On January 8, 1960, Kaunda was released from prison. By the end of January 1960, Kaunda was elected president of the United National Independence Party (UNIP), which had been formed in October 1959 by Mainza Chona. By June 1960 the UNIP had 300,000 members.

In December 1960 the British colonial authorities invited Kaunda and several other UNIP leaders to participate in discussions on the status of the three colonies at a conference in London. Early in 1961, the British government announced that formal decolonization of Zambia would commence.

The first major elections leading to final decolonization were held in October 1962. The UNIP was the winner, gaining 15 of the 37 seats in the new Legislative Council. The constitutional proposals upon which the election was based provided the European settlers in Northern Rhodesia with a disproportionate share of the votes.[1]

Post Independence

Interparty political violence occurred during the elections of 1968, in which Kaunda and his party were returned to power. In response, Kaunda in 1972 imposed a one-party rule on Zambia, and in 1973 he introduced a new constitution that ensured his party’s uncontested rule.[1]

He led Zambia, which became a one-party state, until 1991 when he was defeated in an election following the introduction of multiparty politics.

During his rule, Kaunda made Zambia a center for anti-colonial groups fighting to end white minority rule in southern African countries including Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Kaunda allowed the guerilla organizations to maintain military bases, training camps, refugee centers and administrative offices.[3]


Kaunda was admitted to Maina Soko Medical Center, a treatment center for Covid-19 in Lusaka, Zambia. A short statement released by Kenneth Kaunda's office did not specify the cause of Kaunda’s illness.[3]

Kaunda's office said he was being treated for pneumonia which he has had a recurring problem of for several years.[4]


Kaunda died on 17 June 2021.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Kenneth Kaunda, Britannica, Published: No Date Given, Retrieved: June 14, 2021
  2. Kenneth Kaunda’s wife dies in Harare, Nehanda Radio, Published: September 19, 2012, Retrieved: June 17, 2021
  3. 3.0 3.1 Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda, 97, hospitalized amid virus surge, Wahington Post, Published: June 14, 2021, Retrieved: June 14, 2021
  4. Zambia's founding president Kaunda, 97, treated for pneumonia, Reuters, Published: June 15, 2021, Retrieved: June 15, 2021