President Kenyatta in Lusaka for Kenneth Kaunda’s State funeral

Friday July 02 2021
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta has joined other African leaders in Zambia for the State funeral of founding President Kenneth Kaunda, who died on June 17.

Upon arrival, Mr Kenyatta signed a condolence book at the Agriculture Show Grounds in the upmarket Lusaka.

Foreign Heads of State and government have continued to land in the southern African country that was a base for many of the region’s liberation groups.

Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera was first to arrive, followed by Zimbabwe's Emmerson Mnangagwa, while the plane carrying President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana touched down at Kenneth Kaunda International soon after.

Tanzania's former President Jakaya Kikwete and Namibia’s President Hage Geingob are also in the country for the ceremony that comes ahead of Kaunda's burial on July 7.

South African head of State Cyril Ramaphosa and Mozambique's Filipe Nyusi have also arrived in the country regarded as their second home.

Zambia's President Kenneth David Kaunda

Zambia's former President Kenneth Kaunda speaks during the funeral of South African former president Nelson Mandela in Qunu on December 15, 2013. PHOTO | POOL | AFP

Grand preparations

The State funeral is being held at the Lusaka Show Grounds.

The casket bearing Kaunda's body was placed at the centre of the venue as Zambians waving white handkerchiefs and international mourners followed the procession.

Kaunda was always seen with a white handkerchief, said to have been representative of humility.

A golf club, a guitar and a Bible, opened to Psalms 23, was placed next to the casket.

There were also lamp shaded to symbolise Kaunda's pursuit of peace.

Zambia President Edgar Lungu declared Friday a no-work day to accord the country an opportunity to mourn the first President.

Kaunda, 97, died at a military hospital in Lusaka after an illness. He will be buried at the Presidential Burial Corner, where Michael Sata, Levy Mwanawasa and Frederick Chiluba were also buried.

Preparation for the burial are underway at the site that is near State House and opposite the Cabinet office.