Professor Patrick Loch Lumumba, a Pan-Africanist has described the late former president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, as a personification of humility.
Speaking on The Asaase Breakfast Show on Friday, June 18 2021, Prof Lumumba said Kaunda ensured the struggle for independence did not degenerate into a civil war.
“He was one of the fellows who was very much in the forefront of… the processes, in a nutshell, one sees an individual who was the salt for the struggle for independence and liberation in Southern Africa,” he said.
Lumumba added: “And that I think makes him a true icon. As the Igbo in Nigeria will say in his death a true Iroko has fallen (a mighty tree has fallen).”
Lumumba further described the former Zambian leader as a Neo-Gandhian who served his nation and the continent well.
Kaunda, Zambia’s first president and one of the last of the generation of African leaders who fought colonialism died on Thursday aged 97.
Kaunda was admitted to a military hospital in the capital, Lusaka, on Monday suffering from pneumonia.
His aides said he did not have COVID-19.
In the 1950s, Kaunda was a key figure in what was then Northern Rhodesia’s independence movement from Britain.
He became president following independence in 1964.
As head of the left-leaning United National Independence Party (UNIP), Kaunda then led the country through decades of one-party rule.
He stepped down after losing multi-party elections in 1991.
Zambian President Edgar Lungu said the country was mourning “a true African icon”.
“I learnt of your passing this afternoon with great sadness,” he wrote on Facebook. “On behalf of the entire nation and my behalf, I pray that the entire Kaunda family is comforted as we mourn our First President and true African icon.”
Another tribute came from Kalusha Bwalya, former captain of the national football team, who said Kaunda had made “an immense impact”.
Kaunda – popularly known as KK – was a strong supporter of efforts to end apartheid in South Africa. He was also a leading supporter of liberation movements in Mozambique and what is now Zimbabwe.
In later life, Kaunda turned his attention to the fight against HIV after one of his sons, Masuzyo, died from an Aids-related disease.
“We fought colonialism. We must now use the same zeal to fight Aids, which threatens to wipe out Africa,” he told Reuters in 2002.