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India Mourns KK: First President of Zambia

by Diplomatist Bureau - 14 July, 2021, 12:00 444 Views 0 Comment

The First Republican President of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda was honoured with the Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Peace and Reconciliation in the year 2012.

Dr. Kaunda was born on 28th April 1924. He was born at Lubwa Mission in Chinsali District, Northern Province of Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia. Youngest of the eight children, his father was Reverend David Kaunda.

Dr. Kaunda worked as a Head Teacher at Lubwa from 1943 to 1945. He later worked at the Salisbury and Bindura Mine. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Kaunda started a non- violent movement against British rule.

He became Organising Secretary of Northern Province’s Northern Rhodesian African National Congress. Dr. Kaunda later became Secretary General of the African National Congress (ANC).

He formed the Zambian African National Congress (ZANC) in October 1958 which was banned in March 1959. In June 1959, Dr. Kaunda was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment. In January 1960, he was released from prison and elected United National Independence Party (UNIP) President.

In 1960, Dr. Kaunda visited Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta and visited him again in July 1961. In January 1964, UNIP won the next major elections, defeating their ANC rivals and securing Kaunda’s position as Prime Minister.

On 24 October 1964 he became the first President of an independent Zambia and appointed Cabinet. Dr. Kaunda started helping other countries to gain independence. Liberation movements from Zimbabwe, South Africa, among others stayed in Zambia to mobilise. Zambia suffered armed attacks for protecting freedom fighters especially from the British Rule. Dr. Kaunda was also among world leaders that put pressure in pushing for the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in South Africa.

The Late Mandela visited Dr. Kaunda after being released from prison. Dr. Kaunda had ten visits to India, beginning in 1967. Among other leaders of India, Indira Gandhi, paid three visits to Zambia as Minister and later Prime Minister during Dr. Kaunda’s reign.

Dr. Kaunda allowed for the building of Mahatma Gandhi Secondary School in Lusaka City because of the inspiration he got from Mahatma Gandhi. India recently announced plans to expand the infrastructure at the school. In 1991, Dr. Kaunda left office to Dr. Fredrick Chiluba following a peaceful election. Zambia has changed six Presidents through peaceful elections.

India Mounrs Dr. Kenneth Kaunda 

The bilateral relations between Zambia and India have remained cordial since their establishment in 1964.

The Indian freedom struggle by Mahatma Gandhi inspired Dr. Kenneth Kaunda and Zambia’s independence movement. India has supported Zambia’s economic and technological development while Zambia has supported India on international fora on various issues of mutual interest. Zambia has also extended support to India’s claim for permanent membership of an expanded United Nations Security Council.

Political Relations by Dr. Kaunda

To consolidate the ties between India and Zambia, Their Excellencies, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, Dr. Frederick Chiluba, Dr. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa and Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, First, Second, Third and Sixth Presidents of the Republic of Zambia, respectively, paid State Visits to India.

Dr. Kaunda paid ten visits to India, beginning 1967. On the Indian side, Their Excellencies, Presidents V.V Giri, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, R. Venkataraman and Ram Nath Kovind as well as Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi led Indian State Visits to Zambia.

Over the years, India has provided substantial economic assistance to Zambia. During Dr. Kaunda’s time, in 1979 and 1982, India extended credits worth 3 Million US Dollars.  In 1989, India sent railway wagons costing about 1 Million US Dollars to Zambia under the Africa fund. 

How India is Mourning

H.E. the President of the Republic of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind mourned Dr. Kaunda.

According to a Tweet by the Presidential Palace Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mr. Kovind recalled that he was privileged to meet Dr. Kaunda in April 2018 during his State Visit to Zambia.

President Kovind described Dr. Kaunda as a towering Pan-African leader and a committed Gandhian. Mr. Kovind said Dr. Kaunda’s contribution would never go dim.

Book of Condolences

SADC Group of Heads of Mission Chairperson and High Commissioner of Mozambique to India H.E. Ermindo Augusto Ferreira, High Commissioner of the Republic of Botswana to India H.E. Gilbert Shimane Mangole, Ambassador of DRC to India Rosseter Nyamale, Ambassador of Ethiopia to India H.E. Dr. Tizita Mulugeta, High Commissioner of South Africa to India H.E. Joel Sibusiso Ndebele, High Commissioner of Malawi to India H.E. Prof. George Mkondiwa, High Commissioner of Tanzania to India H.E. Baraka Luvanda, Ambassador of Zimbabwe to India H.E. Dr. Godfrey Chipare, Counselor at the Embassy of Venezuela Mr. Marvyn Lenin Bolivar Labrador and Charges d’Affaires at the Embassy of Togo in India Kondi Mani signed the Book of Condolences.

Other Diplomatic Missions accredited to India that sent messages of Condolences to Zambia’s High Commissioner to India Judith Kapijimpanga included Botswana, Burundi, Brazil, Cape Verde, Congo, Cuba, Cyprus, Eritrea, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Korea, Lesotho, Cote d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Panama, Rwanda, Nepal, Nigeria, Palestine, Peru, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, The Gambia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Venezuela.

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