Kenneth Kaunda And Zambia’s Struggle For Independence

Kenneth David Buchizya Kaunda was born in 1928 in Zambia which was formerly then referred to as the Northern Rhodesia. Kaunda’s parents were teachers and so he followed their steps and became a teacher too. Kaunda taught in Zambia then shifted to Tanzania to practice the same profession and after some months, he came back to Zambia where he did quit his teaching career and resorted to politics. At a tender age he was the organizing secretary of Northern Rhodesia African National Congress (NRANC), and when he moved to Lusaka he was made the secretary general of ANC as Harry Nkumbula was the party leader. Zambia being a British protectorate, the whites were informed about the message Nkumbula and Kaunda were spreading to Zambians of resisting colonialism and so to counter that, Kaunda and Nkumbula were immediately arrested and detained.

In 1958, Northern Rhodesia African National Congress (NRANC) was split into two and so Kaunda was forced to leave and he went ahead and formed a new party called Zambia African National Congress (ZANC), this is after differences emerged as to whether to participate in the elections or not and also the fact that Nkumbula the NRANC leader was alleged to compromise the independence of Zambians. ZANC never lasted for long for it was later on banned as Kaunda was sentenced to serve in prison for 9 months. In that period, a number of members left the NRANC party and formed other political parties and it is at this point and time that United National Independence Party (UNIP) was formed and it had an interim leader Mainza Choma who was later on replaced by Kenneth Kaunda after he finished serving his sentence in prison.

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Kaunda organized a civil disobedience campaign in the Northern parts of Zambia that really played a huge role in their fight against colonialism. In 1964, UNIP won the elections by defeating their NRANC rivals and Kenneth Kaunda became the Prime Minister. On 24th of October 1964, he became Zambia’s President with Rueben Kamanga as his vice. At the helm Kaunda’s main agenda was to improve the literacy level in Zambia by changing the education sector to accommodate each and every Zambian. However, he faced condemnation after he banned all political parties in Zambia through amending the constitution thus making Zambia to be a one party state. Besides banning of other political parties and economic crisis that befell Zambia, Kaunda became unpopular with the Zambians and so in 1991 after leading the country for about three decades, Kaunda was voted out in a landslide victory that saw Frederick Chiluba of the Movement for Multi party Democracy (MMD) become Zambia’s second President with a majority of 75% of the total votes.

When Frederick Chiluba took over government, he was at logger heads with Kenneth Kaunda whom he even wanted to deport from Zambia for he had claimed Kaunda was a Malawian. And so to protect his Presidency from Kaunda who was still playing an active role in politics, he amended the constitution which barred people who were not Zambians from contesting in electoral seats. In 1997, there was an attempted coup on Chiluba’s government and Kaunda was sentenced to prison for participating in that coup but that verdict was later on changed by another court. Chiluba served from 1991- 2000 and then handed over power to his vice president then Levy Mwanawasa.

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Immediately after assuming office, Levy Mwanawasa went after his former boss Chiluba in a fight against corruption. Chiluba and a number of several officials who worked in his regime were charged with several counts including corruption. In 2008, Levy Mwanawasa died in office having suffered health related problems. Chiluba on the other hand was acquitted from the counts of corruption that were leveled against him and on the 18th of June 2011, Chiluba succumbed to heart related complications. After Mwanawasa’s death, a by- election was held and Rupiah Banda who used the MMD ticket was declared winner by a narrow margin against Michael Sata of Patriotic Front (PF). However, in 2011, Michael Sata’s tenure of being an opposition candidate came to an end after he defeated Rupiah Banda. Suddenly, Michael Sata died in office in October 2014 and his vice president Guy Scott became the acting President until by- elections were held thus making him a white leader of a democratically elected Sub- Saharan African government. Edgar Lungu of (PF) was elected to office in 2015 and he is Zambia’s President to date.

Zambia has over 72 ethnic groups with Bemba, Nagoni, and Lazo being the major tribes. The former Rhodesian protectorate has a population of about 18 million people. Kenneth David Buchizya Kaunda is the oldest living President of Zambia at 95 years.

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