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Catholic Bishops in Zambia Eulogize Founding President as Great Leader, Selfless Servant

Late President Kenneth David Kaunda of Zambia. Credit: Public Domain

Catholic Bishops in Zambia have eulogized the country’s first President, Kenneth David Kaunda, as a statesman who selflessly served the people of God in the Southern Africa nation. 

KK, as he was popularly known, passed on June 17while receiving treatment at the Lusaka-based Maina Soko Medical Centre at the age of 97. 

“Certainly, the country has lost a freedom fighter, a true statesman who united the nation and a great leader who rendered selfless service to the Republic,” members of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) say in their Monday, June 21 statement shared with ACI Africa.

The late founding President has left behind a legacy that Zambians “must always aspire to put into practice,” the Catholic Bishops add.

“We believe that the best way we can mourn our fallen hero, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, is to live by the national values he labored to inculcate into the fabric of this nation,” they say in the statement signed by ZCCB President, Archbishop Ignatius Chama.

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The Catholic Bishops highlight some of KK’s achievements saying he “knitted the various tribes into a united country and inspired Zambians to celebrate their unity in diversity by following the national motto: ‘One Zambia –One Nation’.”

They add that Zambia’s founding President “was a Pan African leader who greatly cared for and played a pivotal role in the liberation struggle of countries in Southern Africa and beyond.”

The late President Kaunda also “led by example in terms of servant leadership and hard work,” ZCCB members say, adding that KK was “never tired to preach the primacy and significance of love of God and of one’s neighbor.”

“Our prayer is that the good Lord may reward and receive him into his heavenly kingdom for the valuable services rendered to his beloved country, the African continent and the world at large,” the Catholic Bishops say, and “also commend him to God’s mercy for all the failings he might have committed.”

To the members of the Kaunda family and Zambia’s President, Edgar Lungu, ZCCB members “convey their deepest condolences” and assure them of their “spiritual closeness.”

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The Catholic Bishops also invite the Zambian people “to draw strength from God and seek comfort that only comes from above.”

“We call upon the Kaunda family and the entire nation to remain united in prayer and strengthen one another in faith,” add the Bishops. 

Born in 1924, the late President Kaunda was at the helm of the nation from 24 October 1964 when Zambia gained independence to November 1991. 

He played host to Pope John Paul II in May 1989, the only Papal visit to the Southern African nation.

In a June 17 Facebook post, President Lungu eulogized KK as a leader who "stood as a pillar for our nation, a true champion for humanity, and a fountain of wisdom for thousands across the continent of Africa and beyond." 

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The late leader, President Lungu added, was "a true freedom fighter who selflessly fought for the oppressed." 

The Zambian Head of State called on his compatriots to uphold the legacy of KK by upholding the values of "peace, love and unity." 

President Lungu also declared a 21-day mourning period to be observed in the country.

The late President Kaunda is expected to be laid to rest on July 7 at a private ceremony to be attended by family members and selected mourners.