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KK has run his race.

Zambia is in mourning for her founding father and first President, Dr Kenneth David Buchizya Kaunda who died yesterday at the age of 97.

Dr Kaunda died at the Maina Soko Medical  Centre in Lusaka where he was admitted on Sunday.

And in his death, Zambians from all walks of life are mourning the passing of their very own statesman and national icon who was always an inspirational figure.

In his honour and memory, Government has declared 21 days of national mourning effective yesterday. Secretary to Cabinet, Dr Simon Miti announced Dr Kaunda’s death yesterday in a televised address to the nation.

Dr Kaunda’s son Kambarage Kaunda also confirmed in a Facebook post, “…I’m sad to inform, we have lost “Mzee.” Let’s pray for him…”

Zambians will remember the country’s founding father as a man who lived for his nation.

With other young nationalists, Dr Kaunda spearheaded the independence struggle against British colonial rule and the hated Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland that led to independence on October 24, 1964.

Few Zambians really know that he was also Zambia’s first African Prime Minister.  This was after the 1962 elections in which he stood as a UNIP candidate.

It resulted in an uneasy coalition with the African National Congress (ANC) take power in the legislature.  It was a bold move as the two parties agreed to share power and ensure they had a majority.

The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was dissolved at the end of 1963 and, a month later, Kaunda was elected prime minister of Northern Rhodesia. The country, renamed as Zambia at independence.

Dr Kaunda steered the country through some of its most tumultuous period as Zambia became a bastion for the liberation movements from Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia (South West Africa) and Zimbabwe (Rhodesia).

As a frontline state, the country suffered military invasions and bombardments from the minority regimes and disrupted its ecomomic growth.

But to his credit, Zambia still managed to invest in infrastructure, particularly in education.  The University of Zambia came into being and secondary schools were constructed throughout the country.

And to reduce dependence on the White-dominated south, the Tanzania Zambia Railway was

Dr Kaunda will best be remembered for having respected the will of the people by scrapping the one-party state that he introduced in 1973 to allow for multi-party politics that ultimately ushered into office the Movement for Multi-party Democracy under Frederick Chiluba in 1991.

After retiring from active politics, he devoted his life to fighting HIV/AIDS that also claimed one of his children.

There are not enough words to describe Dr Kaunda’s influence on Zambians and the nation can never find enough words to thank him for all his service.

We are comforted however that you have left us a nation that all should hold dear.

But as President Edgar Lungu said, “You have gone at a time we least expected but we are comforted that you are now with Our Father, God Almighty in heaven.”

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