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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Zambian ex-president Kaunda dies: Gambian historian pays tribute

Hassoum Ceesay, a top Gambian historian, has paid glowing tribute to Kenneth David Kaunda, former Zambian president who died yesterday.

Kaunda was admitted to a hospital in the capital Lusaka on Monday suffering from pneumonia. He passed away aged 97.

KK, as he was fondly called around the world, was the first Zambian president who led the country for nearly three decades before stepping down in 1991.

Speaking to The Standard, Hassoum Ceesay, also the director at the National Centre for Arts and Culture, said Kaunda was the last of a generation of African leaders who shaped the continent and put it on the path to self-actualisation.

“KK was the last of the Founding Fathers, of the dozen African leaders born in 1924, he was the last to go. KK liberated Zambia, but also was in the forefront for liberation in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia. Zambia was a Frontline state against apartheid in South Africa. At great cost to Zambian economy, KK helped  liberate his neighbours also,” he said.

Admired around the continent for his great charm, Kaunda became the first head of state to visit The Gambia in 1969, just four years after the country attained independence.

“A great friend to DK Jawara whom he first met at London Commonwealth Summit in 1966, KK visited The Gambia in 1969 and offered us scholarships,” Mr Ceesay recalled.

Three years before The Gambia’s independence, Kaunda published an autobiography which became an instant classic among Gambians.

“When his autobiography Zambia Shall Be Free came out in 1962, Gambian youths read it voraciously and the pun was Gambia Shall Be Free,” Hassoum noted.

A towering figure in African politics, Hassoum said in Kaunda’s demise, “Africa has lost a stout liberation fighter”.

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