|Kenneth Kaunda - First Zambian President|
Kenneth Kaunda, a Zambian nationalist, led the struggle for independence against the British and became the first president of independent Zambia in 1964.
Kaunda was born in what was then Northern Rhodesia and, like many first-generation African nationalists, he was educated at Christian mission schools. He worked as a miner, as a teacher, and, for a short period of time, as an instructor in the army.
Kaunda joined several African nationalist movements and in Lusaka became secretary-general of the African National Congress (ANC). He quit the ANC to form the Zambia African National Congress (ZANC); when the British banned ZANC in 1959, Kaunda was imprisoned.
Upon his release Kaunda became president of the new United National Independence Party (UNIP) that replaced the banned ZANC; he supported demonstrations and civil disobedience against British control. Kaunda became president of newly independent Zambia in 1964 and held the presidency until 1991.
During his tenure in power, Kaunda became increasingly authoritarian and, in a trajectory similar to other African rulers in the 1970s–1980s, declared Zambia a one-party state in 1972. As agricultural productivity faltered, Zambia’s economy became dependent on copper exports, and Kaunda was accused of corruption and responsibility for the economic problems.
In face of mounting political opposition, Kaunda stepped down from power, and Frederick Chiluba replaced him as president in 1991. Chiluba maneuvered to prevent Kaunda from contesting further elections and, after being accused of involvement in an attempted coup d’état, Kaunda retired from politics in 1997.