Re: Questions & Answers
Posted By: Iyahge Iyahn/Ras George In Response To: Questions (Eja)
Date: Monday, 17 October 2005, at 1:34 p.m.
In Response To: Questions (Eja)
EXTRACT FROM HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY EMPEROR HAILE SELASSIE I THE FIRST STATEMENT TO THE 1963 AFRICAN SUMMIT
But through all that has been said and written and done in these years, there runs a common theme. Unity is the accepted goal. We argue about means: We discuss alternative paths to the same objective; we engage in debated about techniques and tactic. But when semantics are stripped away, there is little argument among us. We are determined to create a union of Africans. In a very real sense, our continent is unmade; it still awaits its creation and its creators. It is our duty and privilege to rouse the slumbering giant of Africa, not to the nationalism of Europe of the Nineteenth Century, not to regional consciousness, but to the vision of a single African brotherhood bending its united efforts toward the achievement of a greater and nobler goal.
Above all, we must avoid the pitfalls of tribalism. If we are divided among ourselves on tribal lines, we open our doors to foreign intervention and its potentially harmful consequences. The Congo is clear proof of what We say. We should not be led to complacency because of the present ameliorated situation in that country. The Congolese people have suffered untold misery, and the economic growth of the country have been retarded because of tribal strife.
But while we agree that the ultimate destiny of this continent lies in a political union, we must at the same time recognize that the obstacles to be overcome in its achievement are at once numerous and formidable. Africa’s people did not emerge into liberty under uniform conditions. Africans maintain different political systems; our economies are diverse; our social orders are rooted in differing cultures and traditions. Further no clear consensus exist on the “how” and the “what” of this union. It is to be, in form, federal, confederal, or unitary? Is the sovereignty of individual state to be reduce, and if so, by how much, and in what areas? On these and other questions there is no agreement, and if we wait for agreed answers generations hence, matters will be little advance, while the debate still rages.
We should, therefore, not be concerned that complete union is not attained from one day to the next. The union which we seek can only come gradually, as the day-to-day progress we achieve carries us slowly but inexorably along this course. We have before us the examples of the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. We must remember how long these nations required to achieve their union. When a solid foundation is laid, if the mason is able and his materials good, a strong house can be build.
Thus, a period of transition is inevitable. Old relations and arrangements may, for a time linger. Regional organization may fulfill legitimate functions and needs which cannot be otherwise satisfied. But the difference is in this: that we recognize these circumstances for what they are – temporary expedients designed to serve only until we have established the conditions which will bring total African unity within our reach.
There is, nonetheless, much that we can do to speed this transition. There are issues on which we stand united and questions on which there is unanimity of opinion. Let us seize on these areas of agreement and exploit them in the fullest. Let us take action now, action which, while taking account of present realities, nonetheless constitutes clear and unmistakable progress along the course plotted out for us by destiny. We are all adherents, whatever our internal political systems, of the principles of democratic action. Let us apply these in the unity we seek to create. Let us work out our own programmes in all fields – political, economic, social and military. The opponents of Africa’s growth, whose interest would be best served by a divided and balkanized continent, would derived much satisfaction from the unhappy spectacle, of thirty and more African States so split, so paralyzed and immobilized by controversies over long-term goals that they are unable even to join their efforts in short-term measures on which there is no dispute. Let us give neither comfort nor encouragement to these. If we act where we may in those areas where actions is possible, the inner logic of the programmes which we adopt will work for us and inevitable impels us still father in the direction of ultimate union.
What we still lack, despite the efforts of past years, is the mechanism which will enable us to speak with one voice when we which to do so and take and implement decisions on African problems when we are so minded. The commentators of 1963 speak, in discussing Africa, of the Monrovia States, the Brazzaville Group, the Casablanca Powers, of these and many more. Let us put an end to these terms. What we require is a single African organization through which Africa’s single voice may be heard, within which African’s problems may be studied and resolved. We need an organization which will facilitate acceptable solutions to dispute among Africans, and promote the study and adoption of measures for common defense and programmes for co-operation in the economic and social fields. Let us, at this Conference, create a single institution to which we all belong, based on principles to which we all subscribe, confident that in its councils our voices will carry their proper weight, secure in the knowledge that the decision there will be dictated by Africans and only by Africans and that they will take full account of all vital African consideration.
FOUNDATION FOR UNITY:
We are meeting here today to lay the basis for African unity. Let us, here and now, agree upon the basic instrument which will constitute the foundation for the future growth in peace and harmony and oneness of this continent. Let our meetings henceforth proceed from solid accomplishments. Let us not put off, to later consideration and study, the single act, the one decision, which must emerge from this gathering if it is to have real meaning. This Conference cannot close with adopting a single African Charter. We cannot leave here without having created a single African organization possessed by the attributes We have described. If we fail in this, we will have shirked our responsibility to Africa and to the peoples we lead. If we succeed, then, and only then, will we have justified our presence here.
The organization of which We speak must possess a well-cumulated framework, having a permanent headquarters and an adequate Secretariat providing the necessary continuity between meetings of the permanent organs. It must include specialized bodies to work in particular fields of competence assigned to the organization. Unless the political liberty for which Africans have for so long struggled is complemented and bolstered by a corresponding economic and social growth, the breath of life which sustains our freedom may flicker out. In our efforts to improve the standard of life of our peoples and to flesh out the bones of our independence, we count on the assistance and support of others. But this alone will not suffice, and, alone, would only perpetuate African’s dependence on others.
A specialized body to facilitate and co-ordinate continent-wide economic programmes and to provide the mechanism for the provision of economic assistance among African nations is thus required. Prompt measures can be taken to increase trade and commerce among us. Africa’s mineral wealth is great; we should co-operate in its development. An African Development Programme, which will make provision for the concentration by each nation on those productive activities for which its resources and its geographic and climatic conditions best fit it is needed. We assume that each African nation has its own national development program, and it only remains for us to come together and share our experiences for the proper implementation of a continent-wide plan. Today, travel between African nations and telegraphic and telephonic communications among us are circuitous in the extreme. Road communications between two neighboring states are often difficult or event impossible. It is little wonder that trade among us have remained at a discouragingly low level. These anachronisms are the remnants of a heritage of which we must rid ourselves – the legacy of the century when Africans were isolated one from the other. These are vital areas in which efforts must be concentrated.
Important Utterances of H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie I, p.352-357, The Imperial Ethiopian Ministry of Information, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (1972)
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