Icon. Giant. Patriot. Towering figure. True Pan-Africanist. Liberation hero.
Those are some of the words widely used by many people around the world as they reacted to the passing of Kenneth Kaunda.
The former Zambian president, who was 97, died June 17 at a military hospital in Lusaka where he was being treated for pneumonia.
Dr Edgar Lungu, the President of Zambia, Friday signed a condolence book as the country entered day two of 21 days of national mourning in honour of the life of Zambia’s Founding President.
“Dear KK, I learnt of your passing with great sadness. You have gone at a time we least expected but we are comforted that you are now with Our Father, God Almighty in heaven. I pray that the Kaunda family is comforted as we mourn a true African icon,” he said.
Namibian President Hage Geingob on Friday declared seven days of national mourning in honour of Dr Kaunda. In a statement, President Geingob said that all flags will be flown at half between June 19 and 25 in honour of the revered statesman who is credited for playing a pivotal role in liberating most Southern African countries.
President Geingob said Namibians would join the region and Zambians in honouring Kaunda who he described as a selfless and gallant son of the soil for his selfless contribution to Namibia’s Independence.
President Geingob said Kaunda will be remembered as a selfless leader who put the aspirations of others ahead of his and his country in his quest to liberate the continent.
The Council of Ministers of Mozambique on Friday also decreed a six-day national mourning observance to honour KK.
Speaking to the media after a session of the council in Maputo, the Deputy Minister of State Administration and Public Service and the session’s spokesman Inocencio Impissa said the high prestige that Dr Kaunda has earned at the continental and world level was obtained in the struggle for racial equality and the progress of Africa, in the promotion of dialogue and peace between the peoples, and will leave an important legacy for future generations.
In his message of condolences issued earlier on Friday, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi lamented the death of Dr Kaunda, saying that he will be remembered as a great leader for his crucial role in Zambia’s independence movement and contribution to the common efforts in defence of the independence, peace, and security in Africa.
In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni hailed the ex-Zambian leader for his contribution to the liberation of several Southern African countries.
“He fought for Zambia’s Independence and he made a big contribution to the freedom struggle of the liberation of the subcontinent of Southern Africa,” President Museveni said in a Twitter message.
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Friday also announced seven-day national mourning following the death of Kaunda. President Hassan said that the national flag will fly at half-mast during the seven-day mourning period, according to a statement issued by the Directorate of Presidential Communications.
President Hassan sent a condolence message to Zambian President Lungu, the family of the former Zambian leader, and the people of Zambia.
The governments of Botswana and South Africa also declared seven and 10 days of national mourning respectively in honour of Dr Kaunda.
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi said it was during KK’s tenure that relations between the two countries blossomed. He described Dr Kaunda as an iconic statesman of the highest credentials and lauded his selfless dedication to the interest of his own people as well as the wellbeing of neighbours.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his country would forever cherish the role Dr Kaunda played not only in the liberation of Africa but South Africa in particular.
“Under his leadership, Zambia provided refuge, care and support to liberation fighters who had been forced to flee the countries of their birth,” he said in a statement.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame said: “My heartfelt condolences to the family of President Kenneth Kaunda and the people of Zambia. His commitment to Africa’s liberation will never be forgotten. His leadership on the continent and legacy of Pan-Africanism will live on for generations to come.”
And Burundian President Évariste Ndayishimiye said KK’s death had greatly saddened him.“I would like to extend my sincere condolences to President Edgar Lungu, to the grieving family, and to the People of Zambia. May his soul rest in peace,” he added. – New Times/Xinhua