June 17 (UPI) -- Zambia's first president Kenneth Kaunda has died at age 97.
Kaunda, known simply as "KK," was the father of Zambia's independence.
He was both feared and beloved throughout the African continent.
Kaunda, an avowed socialist, was Zambia's first elected and longest-serving president, having filled the office from 1964 to 1991, when he was defeated in fair elections.
Kuanda stepped down in the face of loss and began a new life as en elder statesman.
Kaunda carried the moniker the "African Gandhi" for his commitment to non-violence as he led Zambia to independence in 1964.
His time in power was ushered in along with the many movements for independence and equality of Black people in the countries across the region.
Altogether Kaunda spent six decades involved in the political sphere. He was the leader of the main nationalist party, the center-left UNIP. Kaunda also became an AIDS activist after having a son die of the disease.
Son Kambarage Kaunda posted the news of his passing on Facebook.
Kaunda was admitted to Maina Soko, a military hospital in Lusaka, on Monday, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia.
Doctors said he did not have COVID-19. Kaunda's cause of death was pneumonia, according to Victoria Chitungu, a close family friend and author of a forthcoming biography of the former president that is expected to be released soon.