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21 days of national mourning for Kenneth Kaunda

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Bakili Muluzi

The Zambian government has declared 21 days of national mourning for that country’s first president Kenneth Kaunda, who died at the age of 97 yesterday at Maina Soko Medical Centre in Lusaka, Zambia.

In a statement confirming the nationalist’s demise, Zambia’s Secretary to the Cabinet Simon Miti said entertainment activities would be suspended while the neighbouring country’s flag would be flying at half-mast during the period of mourning.

Kaunda was the last of three leaders that led their countries—Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe—to independence following the breaking of the federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi died in 1997 while Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe died in 2019.

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Meanwhile, former Malawi presidents Bakili Muluzi and Joyce Banda have described Kaunda as a continental and global icon.

“I am shocked and it is a sad day for Africa and the world at large. Kaunda fought for the liberation of not only Zambia but Africa at large. He made a lot of contributions towards Africa’s liberation,” Muluzi said.

He said he would remember Kaunda as a leader who was dedicated to the cause of Africa’s liberation, calling on African leaders to emulate his leadership style.

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On her part, Banda described Kaunda as one of the distinguished sons of Africa.

“[He was] a true son of Africa who opened his country to all those running from injustice in their countries. I ask God to allow his soul to rest in everlasting peace,” said Malawi’s first female president.

Kaunda ruled Zambia from its independence from Britain in 1964 to 1991 and handed over power after losing an election.

The Zambian government says the funeral and burial programme would be announced later and would be in line with Covid guidelines.

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