The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Kenneth Kaunda

Kenneth David Kaunda (born April 28, 1924) was the first President of Zambia (19641991).

Kenneth Kaunda was the youngest of eight children. He was born at the Lubwa Mission in Chinsali, Northern Province of Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia. His father was the Reverend David Kaunda, an ordained Church of Scotland missionary and teacher.

He attended Munali Training Centre in Lusaka (August 1941–1943).

He was a teacher at the Upper Primary School and Boarding Master at Lubwa and then Headmaster at Lubwa from 1943 to 1945. He left Lubwa for Lusaka to become an instructor in the army, but was dismissed. He was for a time working 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 for a time Vice-Secretary of the Nchanga Branch of Congress. In April 1949 he returned to Lubwa to become part-time teacher, but resigned in 1951. In that year he became Organising Secretary of the Northern Rhodesia African Congress for Northern Province, which included at that time Luapula Province. On 11 November 1953 he moved to Lusaka to take up the post of Secretary General of the ANC. He broke from the ANC and formed the Zambia African National Congress (ZANC) in 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 (Harare).

On his release in January 1960 he was elected President of the newly formed United National Independence Party (UNIP), which replaced ZANC. In July 1961 he organized a civil disobedience campaign in Northern Province, the so called Cha-cha-cha campaign, burning schools and blocking roads. Kaunda 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 General Election under the new Constitution. Kaunda was appointed Prime Minister. On 24 October 1964 he became the first President of independent Zambia.

Becoming increasingly intolerant of opposition, Kaunda banned all parties except the UNIP following violence during the 1968 elections. In 1972, he made Zambia a one-party state.

His policies made Zambia increasingly dependent on revenues from copper exports. By the mid-1980s, Kaunda's government had lost a great deal of public support due to corruption and an economic downturn. Pressure for a return to multiparty politics increased and Kaunda yielded and called for multiparty elections in 1991, in which the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) won. Kaunda left office with the inauguration of MMD leader Frederick Chiluba as president on November 2, 1991.

Chiluba later attempted to deport Kaunda on the ground that he was a Malawian. 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, and Kaunda retired from politics after he was accused of involvement in a failed 1997 coup attempt.

Last updated: 05-16-2005 07:22:00