Born In: Chinsali, Awemba North, Northern Rhodesia
Kenneth Kaunda served as the first President of independent Zambia (1964-1991). He played a leading role in Zambia’s independence movement. During his presidency, Kaunda (nicknamed KK), often served as a buffer between the states in southern Africa that were predominately white and the independent states in the north that were predominately black. In an effort to move the territory towards independence from the British rule, he made a bold move by breaking away from the African National Congress (ANC). After his departure, he founded the Zambian African National Congress (ZANC). The ZANC’s mission was to promote the rights of black people, but after the upsurge of civil disobedience, the party was banned. After his departure from the African National Congress and banning of the ZANC, Kaunda became the head of the United National Independence Party. A charismatic-leader, Kaunda, as the President of Zambia, was initially revered by the citizens, but overtime, these very citizens became disenchanted by his policies. After serving as the president for more than two decades, he voluntarily stepped down from office.
Also Known As: KK, Kenneth David Kaunda, Kenneth David Buchizya Kaunda
Died At Age: 97
Spouse/Ex-: Betty Kaunda
father: Reverend David Kaunda
mother: Helen Kaunda
children: Tilyenji Kaunda, Wezi Kaunda
Born Country: Zambia
place of death: Lusaka, Zambia
Founder/Co-Founder: United National Independence Party
education: Munali Secondary School
Kenneth David Kaunda was born on April 28, 1924, at Lubwa Mission in Chinsali, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). He was the youngest of eight children. His father was a teacher and a minister, while his mother was the first African woman to teach in colonial Zambia.
After completion of his studies at the Training Centre, he taught at the Upper Primary School in Lubwa in 1943. He was also the headmaster at the school from 1944 to 1947.
He couldn’t stay away from teaching and from 1948-1949, he served as the headmaster at Mufulira Upper School.
Kaunda helped establish the African National Congress (ANC), the first key anti-colonial establishment organization in Northern Rhodesia. He served under ANC president Harry Nkumbula, from 1953-1958 as the group’s secretary general.
In 1958, he became disenchanted with Nkumbula's policies and left the African National Congress to establish the Zambia African National Union. His party was banned in 1959, after upsurge in civil disobedience. This resulted in Kaunda spending nine months in jail.
In 1960, he visited Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia. Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr., he went on to establish a civil disobedience campaign, known as the Cha-cha-cha campaign. The participants in this campaign engaged in arson and blocking major roadways.
In 1991, under pressure to create multiparty politics, he stepped down from the presidency. Movement for Multiparty Democracy won the election with Frederick Chiluba as the president.
To improve the education levels in his country, Kaunda implemented a policy that provided children with free school supplies, such as pens, pencils, and exercise books. Children were given these supplies regardless of their parents’ financial condition.
In 1966, the University of Zambia was set up and Kaunda was appointed its Chancellor. He also officiated the first graduation ceremony in 1969.
In 1968, he introduced the Mulungushi Reforms, in which he planned to acquire a majority share in foreign-owned firms in order to boost the economy. He managed to acquire shares in the Anglo American Corporation and the Rhodesia Selection Trust, consolidated the two companies, and called the new company Nchanga Consolidated Copper Mines (NCCM).
In 1983, NCCM and Roan Consolidated Mines merged and became the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Ltd (ZCCM).
In 1964, during the Lumpa Crisis, Kaunda banned the Lumpa Church, creating animosity among the church and the UNIP. Kaunda was never able to fully mitigate the animosity.
After his retirement from politics, Kaunda worked towards fighting HIV/AIDS.
Kenneth Kaunda was an ‘African President-in-Residence’ at the African Presidential Archives and Research Center, Boston University, from 2002 to 2004.
In 1946, Kenneth Kaunda married Beatrice Kaweche Banda. They had eight children. They remained married until her death in 2012.
An avid ballroom Dancer, he was spotted in the audience of Dancing with the Stars.
Kenneth Kaunda used to wear a safari suit which is still referred to as a "Kaunda suit" in sub-Saharan Africa.
Kenneth Kaunda died on June 17, 2021, after a short illness. He was 97.
He was one of the speakers providing eulogies at Nelson Mandela's funeral. When he went over the allotted time, organizers tried to get him to step away from the podium. But, being his charming self, he had the crowd laughing when he said that the organizers were “trying to control an old man who fought the Boers"