Statement By President Michael D. Higgins On The Death Of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, First President Of Zambia
President Michael D. Higgins has expressed his condolences on the death of the former President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda.
Dr. Kaunda was the first President of Zambia, serving from 1964 until 1991, and was instrumental in Zambia’s independence movement.
“It is with great sadness that I learnt of the passing of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, first president of the Republic of Zambia. President Kaunda was an outstanding leader, a strong voice in opposing minority white rule in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and an articulate and influential advocate for the independence of countries in Africa.
He was also a good friend of Ireland.
I recall that in 1964 he visited Ireland, only weeks after he was sworn in as President of Zambia.
This was his first time, as President, to travel outside the African continent. During this visit he was made a freeman of Limerick, and large numbers of people gathered to catch a glimpse of President Kaunda.
Ireland was proud to host President Kaunda and to demonstrate our solidarity with the newly independent nation, particularly as our own independence struggle had taken place only a few decades earlier.
President Kaunda will be remembered for his dedication to uniting Zambians under his One Zambia, One Nation call.
During his tenure he played a central role in the development of important infrastructural projects, including the building of the University of Zambia.
It is also noteworthy that towards the end of his long and distinguished political career he embraced multiparty democracy for Zambia and this is part of his rich legacy today.
President Kaunda cared deeply for the wellbeing of his people and, even in retirement, he dedicated his time to the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Indeed, he helped many of his fellow citizens by using his influence to combat the stigma and discrimination against those living with the condition.
I wish to extend my condolences to the family of the late President Kaunda and to the people of Zambia, on the occasion of his death.”