This picture was taken in May of 1978 during Zambia’s first president Kenneth Kaunda’s state visit to the United States. The visit was at a time when his country was involved in the Rhodesian conflict. The Zambian president was welcomed to the US by his American counterpart, President Jimmy Carter on May 17, 1978.
Kenneth was one of the first to alert the United States to the dangers of its “no policy position” towards Africa in 1975, and in 1978 he was returning to Washington to reiterate that swift action was needed to avoid further Soviet and Cuban involvement in the Rhodesian conflict.
However, Kaunda’s warning was also partly informed by his own need to make a crucial decision about whether to ask Moscow and Havana for increased military assistance to defend Zambia against repeated Rhodesian army incursions and to quicken the nationalist guerrilla war.
Zambia’s First president was considering all possible options to force Rhodesia’s white prime minister, Ian Smith, from power and bring the Salisbury government to the negotiating table. Although he sought to preserve Zambia’s traditional nonaligned posture, he was willing to turn to Moscow if necessary. Kaunda’s decision was going to be influenced by the plans proposed by the US president and then British Prime Minister James Callaghan.
At the time, Zambia was battling with an economic crisis and Kaunda’s decision could have significant implications for his ability to obtain financial and economic assistance in the West, which was one of the primary objectives of his trip to Britain and the US. He spent three days in London meeting with Callaghan before heading to Washington, D.C.