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