Zambia's first President Kaunda, 97, admitted to military hospital

Lusaka, June 15, (dpa) - Zambia's 97-year-old founding president, Kenneth Kaunda - referred to by Zambians simply as KK - has been admitted to a military hospital in Lusaka.

Kaunda's spokesperson, Rodrick Ngolo, on Monday asked the public to pray for the former freedom fighter, who led Zambia to independence from Britain in 1964. He gave no details on Kaunda's condition or illness.

President Edgar Lungu also urged the nation to keep Kaunda in their thoughts.

"I call the nation to prayer for our beloved KK, who is hospitalized, that God may touch him with His healing hand. He stood up for this great nation at its most critical moment, and so we can all stand up for him in his moment of weakness," Lungu wrote on Facebook.

A missionary's son and trained teacher, Kaunda is considered one of the last survivors in the company of African independence heroes.

He ruled from 1964 until 1991. During his time in power, Zambia became a one-party state, effectively giving him absolute control. He adopted a nationalist-socialist ideology called humanism.

Kaunda is applauded for building schools and hospitals - the colonial government made little investment in such areas. After retiring from politics he was also active in charity work through his Kenneth Kaunda Children of Africa Foundation, an organization addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic.