African nations declare days of mourning to honour Kenneth Kaunda
Countries pay respects to Zambia’s late founding president, revered for helping many movements across the continent fight against colonialism. Leaders across Africa have paid tribute to Zambia’s founding president, Kenneth Kaunda, who died on Thursday at the age of 97, declaring several days of mourning in their respective countries.
While in power, Kaunda hosted many of the movements fighting for independence or Black equality in other countries around the continent, standing up to white minority rule in countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.
President Hage Geingob of Namibia said in a statement Africa lost “a giant of a man”.
“Kenneth Kaunda was a generous, affable, and a resolute leader who freed our region from colonialism.” In appreciation of his contribution to their various struggles, some African countries on Friday announced varying periods of mourning and lowered their national flags to half-mast.
South Africa will mourn for 10 days, while Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania will pay their respects for seven days, their presidents announced. Zimbabwe will mourn over three days.
‘Father of African independence’
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa described Kaunda as a “rightfully revered father of African independence and unity”. “Under his leadership, Zambia provided refuge, care and support to liberation fighters who had been forced to flee the countries of their birth,” Ramaphosa said.
“He stood alongside the people of South Africa at the time of our greatest need and was unwavering in his desire for the achievement of our freedom. We will never be able to repay the debt of gratitude,” Ramaphosa added.
Kaunda had provided logistical help to a number of African liberation movements, including the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) and the breakaway Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) of Southern Rhodesia and the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa.