|Birth Day:||April 28, 1924|
|Birth Place:||Chinsali, Zambia|
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
He was the Headmaster of the Lubwa Upper Primary School before beginning his political career.
Kaunda was a teacher at the Upper Primary School and Boarding Master at Lubwa and then Headmaster at Lubwa from 1943 to 1945. For a time, he worked at the Salisbury and Bindura Mine. In early 1948, he became a teacher in Mufulira for the United Missions to the Copperbelt (UMCB). He was then assistant at an African Welfare Centre and Boarding Master of a Mine School in Mufulira. In this period, he was leading a Pathfinder Scout Group and was Choirmaster at a Church of Central Africa congregation. He was also Vice-Secretary of the Nchanga Branch of Congress.
In April 1949, Kaunda returned to Lubwa to become a part-time teacher, but resigned in 1951. In that year he became Organising Secretary of Northern Province's Northern Rhodesian African National Congress. On 11 November 1953 he moved to Lusaka to take up the post of Secretary General of the ANC, under the presidency of Harry Nkumbula. The combined efforts of Kaunda and Nkumbula failed to mobilise native African peoples against the European-dominated Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. In 1955 Kaunda and Nkumbula were imprisoned for two months with hard labour for distributing subversive literature; such imprisonment and other forms of harassment were normal rites of passage for African nationalist leaders. The experience of imprisonment had a radicalising impact on Kaunda. The two leaders drifted apart as Nkumbula became increasingly influenced by white liberals and was seen as being willing to compromise on the issue of black majority rule, waiting until most of the indigenous population was responsibly educated before extending the franchise. The franchise was to be determined by existing property and literacy qualifications, dropping race altogether. Nkumbula's allegedly autocratic leadership of the ANC eventually resulted in a split. Kaunda broke from the ANC and formed the Zambian African National Congress (ZANC) in October 1958. ZANC was banned in March 1959. In June Kaunda was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment, which he spent first in Lusaka, then in Salisbury.
While Kaunda was in prison, Mainza Chona and other nationalists broke away from the ANC and, in October 1959, Chona became the first president of the United National Independence Party (UNIP), the successor to ZANC. However, Chona did not see himself as the party's main founder. When Kaunda was released from prison in January 1960 he was elected President of UNIP. In 1960 he visited Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta and afterwards, in July 1961, Kaunda organised a civil disobedience campaign in Northern Province, the so-called Cha-cha-cha campaign, which consisted largely of arson and obstructing significant roads. Kaunda subsequently ran as a UNIP candidate during the 1962 elections. This resulted in a UNIP–ANC Coalition Government, with Kaunda as Minister of Local Government and Social Welfare. In January 1964, UNIP won the next major elections, defeating their ANC rivals and securing Kaunda's position as prime minister. On 24 October 1964 he became the first President of an independent Zambia, appointing Reuben Kamanga as his vice-president.
From 1964 onwards, Kaunda's government developed clearly authoritarian characteristics. Becoming increasingly intolerant of opposition, Kaunda banned all parties except UNIP following violence during the 1968 elections. However, in early 1972 he faced a new threat in the form of Simon Kapwepwe's decision to leave UNIP and found a rival party, the United Progressive Party, which Kaunda immediately attempted to suppress. Next, he appointed the Chona Commission, which was set up under the chairmanship of Mainza Chona in February 1972. Chona's task was to make recommendations for a new Zambian constitution which would effectively reduce the nation to a one-party state. The commission's terms of reference did not permit it to discuss the possible faults of Kaunda's decision. ANC party members boycotted Chona's efforts and unsuccessfully challenged the constitutional change in the courts. The Chona report was based on four months of public hearings and was submitted in October 1972 as a 'liberal' document. Finally, Kaunda neutralised Nkumbula by getting him to join UNIP and accept the Choma Declaration on 27 June 1973. The new constitution was formally promulgated on 25 August of that year. At the first elections under the new system held that December, Kaunda was the sole candidate.
The University of Zambia was opened in Lusaka in 1966, after Zambians all over the country had been encouraged to donate whatever they could afford towards its construction. Kaunda was appointed Chancellor and officiated at the first graduation ceremony in 1969. The main campus was situated on the Great East Road, while the medical campus was located at Ridgeway near the University Teaching Hospital. In 1979 another campus was established at the Zambia Institute of Technology in Kitwe. In 1988 the Kitwe campus was upgraded and renamed the Copperbelt University, offering business studies, industrial studies and environmental studies.
In the first twenty years of Kaunda's presidency, himself and his advisors sought numerous times to acquire modern weapons from the United States. In a letter written to Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, Kaunda inquires if the United States would provide him with nuclear missiles, all of his requests for modern weapons were refused by the United States. In 1980, Kaunda would purchase sixteen MiG-21 jets from the Soviet Union, which would ultimately provoke a reaction from the United States. Kaunda responded to the United States, stating that the after numerous failed attempts to purchase weapons, buying from the Soviets was justified in his duty to protect his citizens, and Zambian national security. His attempted purchase of American weapons may have been a political tactic to use fear to establish his one-party rule over Zambia.
For much of the Cold War Kaunda was a strong supporter of the Non-Aligned Movement. He hosted a NAM summit in Lusaka in 1970 and served as the movement's chairman from 1970 to 1973. He maintained a close friendship with Yugoslavia's long-time leader Josip Broz Tito and is remembered by many Yugoslav officials for weeping openly over the latter's casket in 1980. He even had a special house constructed in Lusaka for Tito's visits to the country. He also visited and welcomed Romania's President, Nicolae Ceaușescu in the 1970s. In 1986, the University of Belgrade (Yugoslavia) awarded him an honorary doctorate.
A major change in the structure of Zambia's economy came with the Mulungushi Reforms of April 1968: Kaunda declared his intention to acquire an equity holding (usually 51% or more) in a number of key foreign-owned firms, to be controlled by his Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). By January 1970, Zambia had acquired majority holding in the Zambian operations of the two major foreign mining interests, the Anglo American Corporation and the Rhodesian Selection Trust (RST); the two became the Nchanga Consolidated Copper Mines (NCCM) and Roan Consolidated Mines (RCM), respectively. Kaunda also announced the creation of a new parastatal body, the Mining Development Corporation (MINDECO), while a Finance and Development Corporation (FINDECO) allowed the Zambian government to gain control of insurance companies and building societies. Major foreign-owned banks, such as Barclays, Standard Chartered and Grindlays Bank, successfully resisted takeover. In 1971, IDC, MINDE, and FINDECO were brought together under an omnibus parastatal, the Zambia Industrial and Mining Corporation (ZIMCO), to create one of the largest companies in sub-Saharan Africa, with Francis Kaunda as chairman of the board. The management contracts under which day-to-day operations of the mines had been carried out by Anglo American and RST were terminated in 1973. In 1982, NCCM and RCM were merged into the giant Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings Ltd (ZCCM-IH).
Unfortunately this nationalisation policy was ill-timed. In 1973, the massive increase in the price of oil was followed by a slump in copper prices and a diminution of export earnings. In early 1973, the price of copper accounted for 95% of all export earnings; this had halved in value on the world market by early 1975. By 1976, Zambia had a balance-of-payments crisis, and rapidly fell into debt with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Third National Development Plan had to be abandoned as crisis management replaced long-term planning.
From April 1975, when Kaunda visited Gerald Ford at the White House in Washington and delivered a powerful speech calling for the United States to play a more active and constructive role in southern Africa, until approximately 1984, the Zambian president was arguably the key African leader involved in the international diplomacy regarding the conflicts in Angola, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and Namibia. He hosted Henry Kissinger's 1976 trip to Zambia, got along very well with Jimmy Carter, and worked closely with Ronald Reagan's assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Chester Crocker. While there were disagreements between Kaunda and U.S. leaders (such as when Zambia purchased Soviet MIG fighters or when he accused two American diplomats of being spies), Kaunda generally enjoyed a positive relationship with the United States during these years.
On 26 August 1975, Kaunda acted as mediator along with the Prime Minister of South Africa, B. J. Vorster at Victoria Falls to discuss possibilities for an internal settlement in Southern Rhodesia with Ian Smith and the black nationalists. After the Lancaster House Agreement, Kaunda attempted to seek similar majority rule in South West Africa. He met with P. W. Botha in Botswana to debate this proposal, but apparently failed to make a serious impression.
Meanwhile, the anti-white minority insurgency conflicts of southern Africa continued to place a huge economic burden on Zambia as white minority governments were the country's main trading partners. In response, Kaunda negotiated the TAZARA Railway (Tanzam) linking Kapiri Mposhi on the Zambian Copperbelt with Tanzania's port of Dar-es-Salaam on the Indian Ocean. Completed in 1975, this was the only route for bulk trade which did not have to transit white-dominated territories. This precarious situation lasted more than 20 years, until the abolition of apartheid in South Africa.
As president of UNIP, Kaunda was the only candidate for president of the republic. After UNIP went through the formalities of (re)electing him as its leader, the rest of the Zambian population was given the opportunity to express approval or disapproval of Kaunda by voting either "Yes" or "No" in a referendum. Since parliamentary elections took place at the same time, there was great pressure placed on parliamentary candidates to "campaign" for a "Yes" vote for Kaunda, in addition to their own campaigns. Parastatal companies (which were controlled through ZIMCO – Zambia Industrial and Mining Corporation) were also under pressure to "campaign" for Kaunda by buying advertising space in the two national newspapers (Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily Mail) exhorting the electorate to give the president a "massive 'Yes' vote". Under this system, Kaunda was confirmed as president in 1978, 1983 and 1988, each time with official results showing over 80 percent of voters approving his candidacy.
With all opposition having been eliminated, Kaunda allowed the creation of a personality cult. He developed a left nationalist-socialist ideology, called Zambian Humanism. This was based on a combination of mid-20th-century ideas of central planning/state control and what he considered basic African values: mutual aid, trust and loyalty to the community. Similar forms of African socialism were introduced inter alia in Ghana by Kwame Nkrumah ("Consciencism") and Tanzania by Julius Nyerere ("Ujamaa"), while in Zaire, President Mobutu Sese Seko, a much less "benevolent" ruler than Kaunda or Nyerere, was at a loss until he hit on the ideal ideology – 'Mobutuism'. To elaborate his ideology, Kaunda published several books: Humanism in Zambia and a Guide to its Implementation, Parts 1, 2 and 3. Other publications on Zambian Humanism are: Fundamentals of Zambian Humanism, by Timothy Kandeke; Zambian Humanism, religion and social morality, by Cleve Dillion-Malone S.J. and Zambian Humanism: some major spiritual and economic challenges, by Justin B. Zulu. Kaunda on Violence, (US title, The Riddle of Violence), was published in 1980. He is known as "Gandhi of Africa" or "African Gandhi."
Eventually, however, economic troubles and increasing international pressure to bring more democracy to Africa caused Kaunda to totter. While he had been known for his vehement opposition to apartheid in South Africa, his critics were increasingly emboldened to speak out against his authoritarian rule, and also questioned his competence. His close friend Julius Nyerere had retired as president of Tanzania in 1985 and was quietly encouraging Kaunda to follow suit.
By 1986 Zambia had the second highest debt of any nation on the globe, relative to its gross domestic product (GDP). The IMF insisted that the Zambian government should focus on stabilising the economy and restructuring it to reduce dependence on copper. The proposed measures included the ending of price controls, devaluation of the kwacha, reining in of government spending, cancellation of subsidies on food and fertiliser, and increased prices for farm produce. Kaunda's removal of food subsidies caused the prices of basic foodstuffs to skyrocket, sparking riots and disorder. In desperation, Kaunda attempted to sever his ties with the IMF in May 1987 and introduce a New Economic Recovery Programme in 1988. However, this was not ultimately successful and he eventually moved toward a new understanding with the IMF in 1989. In 1990 Kaunda was forced to make major policy shifts; he announced the intention to partially privatise the parastatals. However, these changes were too little and came too late to prevent his fall from power as a result of Zambia's economic woes.
In August 1989, Farzad Bazoft was detained in Iraq for alleged espionage. He was accompanied by a British nurse, Daphne Parish, who was arrested as well. Bazoft was an Iranian-born freelance journalist attempting to expose Saddam's mass murder of Iraqi Kurds. Bazoft was later tried and condemned to death, but Kaunda managed to negotiate for his female companion's release. Kaunda served as chairman of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) from 1970 to 1973.
At these elections, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), helmed by trade union leader Frederick Chiluba, swept UNIP from power in a landslide. In the presidential election, Kaunda was roundly defeated, taking only 24 percent of the vote to Chiluba's 75 percent. UNIP was cut down to only 25 seats in the legislature. One of the issues in the campaign was a plan by Kaunda to turn over one quarter of the nation's land to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian guru who promised that he would use it for a network of utopian agricultural enclaves that proponents said would create "heaven on earth". Kaunda was forced in a television interview to deny practising Transcendental Meditation. When Kaunda handed power to Chiluba on 2 November 1991, he became the second mainland African head of state to allow free multiparty elections and to peacefully relinquish power when he lost. The first, Mathieu Kérékou of Benin, had done so in March of that year.
After leaving office, Kaunda clashed frequently with Chiluba's government and the MMD. Chiluba later attempted to deport Kaunda on the grounds that he was a Malawian. The MMD dominated government under the leadership of Chiluba had the constitution amended, barring citizens with foreign parentage from standing for the presidency, to prevent Kaunda from contesting the next elections in 1996. Kaunda retired from politics after he was accused of involvement in the failed 1997 coup attempt. After the coup, on Boxing Day in 1997 he was placed under arrest by Chiluba. However, many officials in the region appealed against this; on New Year's Eve of the same year, he was placed under house arrest until the court date. In 1999 Kaunda was declared stateless by the Ndola High Court in a judgment delivered by Justice Chalendo Sakala. A full transcript of the judgment was published in the Times of Zambia edition of 1 April 1999. Kaunda however successfully challenged this decision in the Supreme Court of Zambia, which declared him to be a Zambian citizen in the Lewanika and Others vs. Chiluba ruling.
In 2006, he was seen in attendance at an episode of Dancing with the Stars; Kaunda is an avid ballroom dancer.
President Michael Sata made use of Kaunda as a roving ambassador for Zambia. In February 2014 Kaunda was hospitalized for a fever at Lusaka Trust Hospital.
Currently, Kenneth Kaunda is 98 years, 10 months and 24 days old. Kenneth Kaunda will celebrate 99th birthday on a Friday 28th of April 2023.
Find out about Kenneth Kaunda birthday activities in timeline view here.