Kenneth Kaunda Day in Zambia Date in the current year: April 28, 2024

Kenneth Kaunda Day in Zambia Kenneth Kaunda Day is a Zambian public holiday celebrated annually on April 28. It commemorates the birth anniversary of the first president of Zambia.

Kenneth Kaunda was born on April 28, 1914 in the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia. After receiving education he worked as a teacher for a number of years before embarking on a political career.

In 1948, Kaunda became a co-founder of the Northern Rhodesia Congress (renamed the African National Congress (ANC) in 1951), the first African political party in Northern Rhodesia. Two years later, white settlers established the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland; Kaunda and ANC president Harry Nkumbula tried to mobilize native Africans against the federation, but their efforts weren’t particularly successful.

In 1955, Kaunda and Nkumbula spent two months in jail after getting arrested for the distribution of subversive literature. Upon their release, they drifted apart as Nkumbula adopted more liberal views and Kaunda became more radical. Eventually Kaunda and his supporters split from the ANC and founded the Zambian African National Congress (ZANC) in 1958.

The new party was banned five months later, and Kaunda spent another nine months in prison. After being released, he became president of the United National Independence Party that had been founded by Mainza Chona and other former ZANC members.

Following the 1962 general elections in Northern Rhodesia, the United National Independence Party and the African National Congress formed a coalition government where Kaunda was Minister of Local Government and Social Welfare.

In December 1963, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was dissolved, and new elections were held in Northern Rhodesia in January 1964. Kaunda’s party won the election, and he became prime minister of Northern Rhodesia. On October 24, 1964, Northern Rhodesia declared its independence and become the Republic of Zambia with Kaunda as its first president.

Kaunda served as the president of Zambia for almost 30 years thanks to eliminating all opposition and transforming Zambia into a one-party state. However, international pressure and a coup attempt forced him to legalize other political parties and announce a snap general election that was held in 1991.

Kaunda’s party lost the election, and Frederick Chiluba became the new president of Zambia. Kaunda continued his political career as the leader of the United National Party and had frequent clashes with Chiluba’s government. He retired from politics in 1998 and devoted himself to charity.

Kaunda died at the age 97 on June 17, 2021. Following Kaunda’s death, his birthday was declared a public holiday. It is the first annual public holiday in honor of a past president of Zambia; although the funerals of past presidents and prime ministers have been declared non-working days, these were one-off public holidays. Kenneth Kaunda Day is marked by remembrance ceremonies honoring the memory of the late president and his contribution to the country’s independence.

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