Kenneth David Kaunda (born April 28, 1924) was the first President of Zambia (1964 - 1991).
Kenneth Kaunda was the youngest of eight children. He was born at the Lubwa Mission Station in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia. His father was the Reverend David Kaunda, an ordained Church of Scotland missionary and teacher.
He attended Fort Hare University in South Africa, where many future African leaders were also to be found.
He was a teacher and Headmaster at Lubwa School from 1943 to 1947. He became secretary of the Northern Rhodesia African Congress in 1950 and was promoted to Secretary-General in 1953 when the organization was renamed the African National Congress (ANC). He broke from the ANC and formed the Zambia African National Congress (ZANC) in 1958. ZANC was banned in 1959 and Kaunda was arrested and imprisoned for a few months.
On his release he was made President of the newly formed United National Independence Party (UNIP). Kaunda ran as a UNIP candidate during the 1962 elections. As Minister of Local Government and Social Welfare, Kaunda established himself as the most influential African in the government.
Following an electoral victory for the UNIP, Kaunda became prime minister on January 22, 1964. The British government, tired of civil disobedience, granted Zambia its independence on October 24, 1964, and Kaunda then became president.
Becoming increasingly intolerant of opposition, Kaunda banned all parties except the UNIP following violence during the 1968 elections. In 1972, he made Zambia a one-party state.
His policies made Zambia increasingly dependent on revenues from copper exports. By the mid-1980s, Kaunda's government had lost a great deal of public support due to corruption and an economic downturn. Pressure for a return to multiparty politics increased and Kaunda yielded and called for multiparty elections in 1991, in which the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) won. Kaunda left office with the inauguration of MMD leader Frederick Chiluba as president on November 2, 1991.
Chiluba had the constitution amended to prevent Kaunda from contesting the next elections in 1996, and Kaunda retired from politics after he was accused of involvement in a failed 1997 coup attempt.