Kaunda dies, Zambia mourns

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Zambia’s founding father, President Kenneth Kaunda has passed on at 97.

Kaunda, who ruled Zambia from 1964 to 1991, died at a hospital in Lusaka where he was being treated for pneumonia. He is reputed for his commitment to the eradication of  HIV/AIDS.

The former president had been feeling unwell and had been admitted to the Maina Soko Medical Centre in Lusaka earlier this week.

Although Zambia’s copper-based economy fared badly under his long stewardship, Kaunda will be remembered more for his role as an anti-colonial fighter who stood up to white minority-rule in southern African countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

He shared a loss experienced by countless families in Africa when his son Masuzyo died of AIDS in 1986, and he began a personal crusade against the disease.

“This is the biggest challenge for Africa. We must fight AIDS and we must do so now,” he told Reuters news agency in 2002.

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“We fought colonialism. We must now use the same zeal to fight AIDS, which threatens to wipe out Africa,” said Kaunda.