Papers relating to Kenneth David Kaunda (b. 1924)

Scope and Content

The papers are composed of: manuscript letters of Kaunda to C. T. Leys about the banning of the Zambia African National Congress and his detention, 1959, written from the Detention Camp, Kabompo; other material relating to pre-independence Zambia, 1956-1959; and, the typescript to Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia: the times and the man by Fergus Macpherson, 1973.

Administrative / Biographical History

Kenneth David Kaunda - political leader and former President of Zambia - was born in 1924 in Lubwa, near Chinsali, Zambia (then called Northern Rhodesia). His parents were both teachers - his father was from Malawi (then called Nyasaland), and his mother was the first African woman to teach in colonial Zambia. After his own education, Kaunda too became a teacher, working in Tanzania (then Tanganyika) as well as Zambia. He was then a welfare officer at Chingoal Copper Mine, 1948, before becoming an interpreter and advisor on African affairs to Sir Stewart Gore-Brown - a member of the Northern Rhodesian Legislative Council - in 1949. By 1953, Kaunda's political career had been founded and he was already Secretary-General of Northern Rhodesia's African National Congress. Kaunda opposed the formation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (which would have comprised modern Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi) and he formed the Zambia African National Congress in 1958. His party was banned in 1959 and he was imprisoned, but on release in 1960 he became President of the new United National Independence Party (UNIP), a post he would hold until 1992. Kaunda opposed a constitution for Northern Rhodesia proposed by Britain in 1962, believing that white supremacy would be built in to the new country, but he participated in the elections of October 1962 and won a parliamentary seat. He became the Minister of Local Government and Social Welfare, 1962 to 1964. Dissolution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was achieved in 1963, and he became Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia in 1964. The country became independent in 1964, and Kenneth Kaunda was its first President. In 1969, Zambia's copper mines were nationalised and in 1972 the country became a one-party state. Kaunda's Zambia played a key role in the opposition to white-supremacist rule in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), in South Africa, and in South-West Africa (now Namibia). In 1990 however, he was forced to restore the multiparty system in his own country and UNIP was defeated in the 1991 elections by Frederick Chiluba and the Movement for Multiparty Democracy. By 1995, and after repeated arrests, Kaunda headed the main opposition party in Zambia, but changes to the constitution prevented him from standing in the 1996 presidential election. In 2000 Kenneth David Kaunda retired from politics. His published works include Black government (1960) and Zambia shall be free (1962).

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance, and note that Macpherson typescript is noted in the accession index as 'For restricted use only'.

Acquisition Information

Typescript deposited by Prof. G. Shepperson, May 1975, Accession no. E75.25. Letters transferred from African Studies, June 1981, Accession no. E81.64.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) The new encyclopaedia Britannica. Micropaedia. Ready Reference. 15th edition. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1991.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.


Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia: the times and the man / Fergus Macpherson. Published: Lusaka ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1974. ISBN 0195723384. Held at Edinburgh University Library, shelfmarks .9(6894) Kau. Macp. and C.A.S. Zam. Macp.