World leaders joined a chorus of condolences from around the world following the death of former Zambia’s President Kenneth Kaunda on Thursday at the age of 97.
Commonwealth Secretary-General The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC expressed sympathy and a sense of loss at the passing of Kaunda.
She said: “I have learned with great sadness news of the death of President Kaunda, who passed on earlier today. On behalf of the Commonwealth family, I extend heartfelt condolences to the Government and people of Zambia. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and particularly with the family of President Kaunda at this time of grieving and profound loss.”
The Secretary-General said that President Kaunda was a great African statesman and Commonwealth leader whose legacy of fostering unity, equality, peace, and human dignity will endure.
She added: “His contribution towards building the modern Commonwealth is one of his enduring legacies. President Kaunda hosted the 1979 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which saw the adoption of the Lusaka Declaration of the Commonwealth on Racism and Racial Prejudice, which was a reaffirmation of the Commonwealth commitment to fighting inequality and racial prejudice.”
The Secretary-General gave her assurance of the Commonwealth’s solidarity with the people of Zambia during this difficult period.
President Muhammadu Buhari described Zambia’s founding father and independence nationalist Kenneth Kaunda as “one of the greatest African and world leaders of all time who loved his country and people profoundly.”
Reacting to Kaunda’s death at the age of 97, the President said “I have received his passing with great shock because I knew his contributions to the development of not only Zambia but also Africa at large.”
According to President Buhari, “we can’t forget in a hurry how Kaunda gave shelter to anti-apartheid freedom fighters from South Africa and from former Rhodesia.”
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi has declared a seven-day mourning period following the death of the African leader.
“Dr Kaunda was Botswana’s best friend and together with the likes of Sir Seretse Khama and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, championed the liberation and independence of our region…Former President Kaunda’s death is a loss to his compatriots in Zambia, their friends in Botswana, and the continent of Africa. We send our condolences to the people of Zambia during this trying time”.
He said Dr Kaunda was the first Head of State to visit Botswana shortly after independence in 1966.
“His four-day State Visit to Botswana, from May 21st, to May 24, 1968 ushered in a period of unparalleled excellent bilateral relations between Botswana and Zambia; after Zambia attained its own independence from British colonial rule which saw Dr Kaunda assuming the first presidency of the country in 1964.”