- Leaders from southern Africa celebrated Kenneth Kaunda's role in the Frontline States.
- Namibia and Zimbabwe's presidents recalled their time in exile in Zambia.
- Kaunda's role in founding SADC and the African Union was also lauded.
Zambian independence leader Kenneth Kaunda's state funeral on Friday served as a reminder of Africa's liberation movements-turned-political parties.
Zambians bid farewell to Kaunda in a socially distanced ceremony at the National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka. Kaunda died on 17 June, aged 97.
Leaders from across Africa gathered, wearing masks and sitting with at least one empty seat between them, each paying tribute to a leader to whom many said they owed their national independence.
Kaunda was the last surviving leader of the Frontline States, a group of independent African nations which opposed the apartheid regime from 1970.
Along with Zambia, they included Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Tanzania.
The Frontline States also opposed the regime of Ian Smith in what was then Rhodesia. After independence, Zimbabwe also joined the group.
Describing Kaunda as the father of independence in southern Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his gratitude to Zambia for its role in the Frontline States.
"All over Africa, the late president Kaunda was a torchbearer for freedom," said Zimbabwe's president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who studied in Zambia. He added:
Namibia's president, Hage Geingob, recalled a list of several members of his Cabinet who were educated in Zambia while in exile.
"I was a young freedom fighter, but President Kaunda welcomed me," said Geingob, recalling that Zambia was home to a UN-backed institute that trained Namibia's future government ministers.
Mozambique's president, Filipe Nyusi, described Kaunda as the "ambassador of the oppressed", who used his position to lobby for the region's political freedom on the international stage.
Nyusi paid tribute to Kaunda as one of the founding members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
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The chairperson of the African Union (AU) commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, also paid tribute to Kaunda as one of the founding members of the body that would become the AU.
Kaunda will be buried in a private ceremony on 7 July.
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