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Kenneth David Kaunda

Kenneth David Kaunda

Kenneth David Kaunda (born 1924), first president of Zambia, was a leading figure in his country's independence movement. Until he stepped down in 1991, he maintained his critical position as the leader of a buffer country between white-ruled states in southern Africa and hostile, independent black-ruled states to the north.

Kenneth David Kaunda was born on April 28, 1924, at Lubwa Mission near Chinsali in Northern Rhodesia. His father was a minister and teacher who had left Nyasaland (now Malawi) in 1904, and his mother was the first African woman to teach in colonial Zambia.

After completing his education in the early 1940s, Kaunda began teaching at Lubwa in 1943 and was headmaster there as well from 1944 to 1947. Then he moved to the copper mining area, where he founded a farmers' cooperative, was a mine welfare officer (1948), and became a boarding master at Mufulira Upper School from 1948 to 1949.

Political Career

The urbanized copper area was a natural setting for African nationalism. Resenting the racial discrimination that prevailed in central Africa, Kaunda helped to found the African National Congress (ANC), the first major anticolonial organization in Northern Rhodesia. He was its secretary general from 1953 to 1958 under ANC president Harry Nkumbula.

Early on, Kaunda became committed to the nonviolent principles of India's Mohandas Gandhi, a position strengthened by his visit to India in 1957. He broke with Nkumbula and became president of the Zambia African National Union from 1958 through 1959. When civil disorder led to banning of this party, Kaunda was jailed for a period of nine months. On his release he became president of the new United National Independence party in 1960. On Oct. 30, 1962, he was elected to the Legislative Council. He formed a coalition government with Nkumbula's ANC and served as minister of local government and social welfare in 1962.

Zambia slowly moved through the complications of earning independence. Much of the success is attributed to the skillful diplomacy of Kenneth Kaunda, who succeeded in allaying the fears of the huge European and smaller Asian community that black leadership would ignore their interests. In October 1964, the new nation of Zambia was born, with Kaunda as its president.

The Aftermath of Independence

After independence, Kaunda made agreements with mining companies over copper royalties. He also had to deal with uprisings of the Lumpa religious sect under self-styled prophetess Alice Lenshina. His relations with neighboring white-ruled Rhodesia were unstable after the latter's 1965 illegal break with Britain, but he resisted those within and without his government who urged military action. Instead, Kaunda sought aid for a rail line to a Tanzanian port. This would offer an alternate route for landlocked Zambia's copper that prior to the rail line had to be exported through Rhodesia. These tensions heightened tribal differences and encouraged Kaunda's socialist leanings.

Kaunda, like other African leaders, faced the complex problems of independence and tribalism, although his diplomatic skills saved his country the trauma of civil war. However, political pressures within and without his borders led him to impose single-party rule in 1973. With civil war to the west in Angola in 1976 and continuing conflict in Rhodesia, Kaunda won, unopposed, a new five-year term. Pledging his government to enforce high standards of morality and concern for public welfare, he was able to put down several attempted coups over the next few years.

Kenneth Kaunda retired from office in 1991 when Frederick Chiluba came to power in the first multiparty election in Zambia following the legalization of opposition parties in 1990. He moved to London where he continued to be concerned with the policies and programs of his native country.

Further Reading

Kaunda's autobiography, Zambia Shall Be Free (1962); a biography by Merfyn Morley Temple, Kaunda of Zambia (1964); another biography by Richard Seymour Hall, Kaunda: Founder of Zambia (1964); Hall's The High Price of Principles: Kaunda and the White South (1970); also David C. Mulford, Zambia: The Politics of Independence, 1957-1964 (1967). □

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Kaunda, Kenneth David

Kenneth David Kaunda (koun´də), 1924–, African political leader, president of Zambia (1964–91), b. Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). A teacher and welfare officer, Kaunda opposed the formation (1953) of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. His party was banned (1959), and Kaunda imprisoned, but in 1960 he was released and became head of the new United National Independence party. In 1962 he rejected a constitution proposed by Great Britain for Northern Rhodesia, charging that it would perpetuate white supremacy. Nevertheless, he took part in elections that October, and after winning a parliamentary seat, formed a coalition government. He achieved dissolution of the federation in 1963.

In 1964, Zambia became independent with Kaunda as president. In 1969, he nationalized Zambia's copper mines. Faced with increasing ethnic dissension, Kaunda established a one-party state in 1972. In foreign affairs Kaunda played a central role in opposing white-supremacist governments in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), South Africa, and South-West Africa (now Namibia), despite the attacks and hardships these policies caused Zambia. Kaunda was elected to his fifth consecutive term in 1988, but in 1990 he was forced to restore a multiparty system. He was overwhelmed in a 1991 election by Frederick Chiluba.

Out of office, he carried on a politial feud with Chiluba, whose government repeatedly arrested him. Kaunda became head of the main opposition party in 1995, but a constitutional amendment banned him from running in the 1996 presidential election, and in 2000 he retired from political life. He has written several books, including Black Government (with C. M. Morris, 1960) and the autobiographical Zambia Shall Be Free (1962).

See biography by F. T. Polatnick and A. L. Saletan (1972); R. Gulhati, Impasse in Zambia (1989).

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Kaunda, Kenneth David

Kaunda, Kenneth David (1924– ) Zambian statesman, president (1964–91). In 1959, he was imprisoned for membership of the banned Zambia African National Congress. In 1960, he became leader of the United National Independence Party (UNIP). Kaunda led Northern Rhodesia to independence as Zambia, becoming its first president. In 1972, he imposed single-party rule. Kaunda was a staunch opponent of apartheid and played a leading role in establishing an independent Namibia (1990). In 1991, severe economic problems and political unrest forced him to allow multiparty elections in which he was defeated by Frederick Chiluba. In 1997, after a failed military coup, Kaunda was imprisoned. In 1998, he was released and resigned as leader of UNIP.

http://www.kaundachildrenofafrica.org

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