Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s founding president, and liberation hero is dead at the age of 97.  His son, Kambarage said he died at a military hospital in Lusaka where he was being treated for pneumonia.

Kaunda ruled Zambia for 27 years, starting in 1964 after the country gained independence from Britain. He left his position in 1991 and became one of Africa’s most committed activists against HIV/AIDS.

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Although Zambia’s copper-based economy fared badly under his long stewardship, Kaunda will be remembered more for his role as an anti-colonial fighter who stood up to white minority-ruled South Africa. Zambian President Edgar Lungu had subsequently asked citizens to offer prayers for him. Lungu said;

“He stood up for this great nation at its most critical moment, and so we can all stand up for him in his moment of weakness.”

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