Zambian First President, Kenneth Kaunda received a ceremony of memorial as mourners waved white handkerchiefs, With his trademark symbol and gathered at a Lusaka stadium in celebrating his life well lived.
Neatly distanced in compliance with COVID-19 social distancing rules, scores of mourners stood on the terrace dancing to dirges and solemn music played by a military band.
A hero of the struggle against white rule in southern Africa, Kaunda passed out on June 17 at a military hospital where he had been admitted
Kaunda was diagnosed with pneumonia.
A casket draped in the Zambian flag was driven on a gun carriage into the 60,000-capacity National Heroes Stadium and placed under a white marquee.
The presence of Foreign dignitaries in Lusaka were felt to pay their respects include South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and Ghana’s Nana Akufo-Addo, as well as junior British foreign minister James Duddridge, representing Zambia’s former colonial ruler.
Kaunda, popularly known by his initials of KK, was president of Zambia for 27 years, taking the helm after the country gained independence in October 1964.
He headed the main nationalist group, the left-of-centre United National Independence Party (UNIP).
He was nicknamed by some “Africa’s Gandhi” for his non-violent, independence-related activism in the 1960s.
He hosted many of the movements fighting for independence or black equality in other countries around the continent — sometimes at a heavy cost.
But his popularity at home waned as he became increasingly autocratic and banned all opposition parties.
He eventually ceded power in the first multi-party elections in 1991, losing to trade unionist Fredrick Chiluba.
Zambia declared a period of mourning after his death, with flags flown at half mast, while his body was taken around the country for the public to pay their respects.
He will be buried next Wednesday at the country’s presidential burial site situated opposite the cabinet office in Lusaka.
Some taxi drivers in the capital Lusaka drove with their headlamps on as a way of mourning the founding leader.