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Former president of Zambia to speak May 2

Melissa Mitchell, News Editor
(217) 333-5491;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The former president of the Republic of Zambia will share his recollections of the liberation of southern Africa during a visit to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on May 2.

Kenneth D. Kaunda (kah-OON-dah), who led Zambia to independence and served as the first president of the Republic of Zambia from 1964-1991, will speak at 4 p.m. on the third floor at Levis Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois St., Urbana. His talk, titled "The Liberation of Southern Africa: Reflections by President Kenneth Kaunda," is sponsored by the Center for African Studies and co-sponsored by several other campus units.

CAS director Paul Zeleza said Kaunda plans to "look at the broader context of Africa’s liberation as well as provide personal anecdotes that will be insightful to understanding these struggles."

In addition to gains Kaunda made in his own country, Zeleza said, Kaunda "played an important role in the struggle for independence in Africa, particularly in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Angola. The African National Congress of South Africa was based in Lusaka, the Zambian capital, and it was there that negotiations began in the late 1980s between South African business, religious and political leaders and the leaders of the exiled ANC. Those negotiations led to the political reforms of 1990, including the release of Nelson Mandela, culminating in the end of apartheid in 1994."

A former educator, Kaunda entered the political arena in 1950 as the founder and secretary of the Lubwa branch of the African National Congress. In 1958, Kaunda formed the Zambian African National Congress and became its president. From 1960-62, he served as president of the United National Independence party, a post he held again from 1995-2000.

With the development of a new constitution and the establishment of Zambia’s first black government in 1962, Kaunda became minister of local government and social welfare, and later, prime minister of Northern Rhodesia. He was elected president of the Republic of Zambia in 1964.

Kaunda’s efforts directed at the liberation of Africa included serving as president of the Pan-African Freedom Movement for east, central and southern Africa (Pafmesca) in 1962. He also held leadership positions in many international organizations, including serving as chairman of the Organization of African Unity, 1970-71 and 1987-88; the Southern African Development Conference; the Preferential Trade Area of Eastern and Southern African States; the Frontline States, a group of independent southern African countries spearheading the liberation of South Africa and Namibia; and president of the Commonwealth countries and the Non Aligned Movement, from 1970-73.

After losing the presidential election in 1992, he founded the Kenneth Kaunda Peace Foundation, which is dedicated to the establishment of peace and conflict resolution on the African continent. His most recent work is directed at fighting HIV/AIDS and poverty in Africa.

The author of several books and recipient of many international honors and awards, Kaunda holds an appointment as the Balfour African President in Residence at Boston University’s African Presidential Archives and Research Center.