Mama Kaunda (83), was the wife of Zambia’s independence president Dr Kenneth Kaunda. She died in Zimbabwe a week ago.
The requiem mass at the Cathedral of Holy Cross in the capital Lusaka was attended by hundreds of Zambians, government officials both foreign and local, diplomats and opposition leaders.
A broken but composed Dr Kaunda (88), who was discharged from hospital Tuesday for “stress”, attended the requiem mass but had his speech read for him. The burial procession was broadcast live by the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation.
In his moving speech, Dr Kaunda paid glowing tribute to his wife of 66 years who died in Harare on 19 September .
“My companionship with Betty was a fruitful journey,” Dr Kaunda said in his speech.
Senior government officials from neighbouring countries including South Africa attended the burial.
Former Tanzanian First Lady Mama Maria Nyerere was among those who attended the funeral.
Zambia acting president Alexander Chikwanda described Mama Kaunda as the epitome of unity.
The government had declared three days of national mourning in her honour which was extended by a day as her husband suddenly became unwell prompting his admission to hospital.
Radio and TV stations across the country played solemn hymns from morning to evening.
Burial of the late Mrs Kaunda was supposed to take place on Sunday last week at Lubwa Mission north of the country but was moved to the capital Lusaka due to consideration for the former president’s health.
Mama Kaunda led a quiet life despite her proximity to power for 27 years.
She was born on 17 November, 1928 at Mpika in the northern region of Zambia, then known as Northern Rhodesia.
She and Dr Kaunda married in 1946. She was Zambia’s First Lady from October 1964 to November 1991.
Last month, the couple celebrated their 66 years of marital union.
Mama Kaunda is survived by her husband, eight children, 30 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. — Africa Review.