|A Call To African Leaders - 1963 Summit|
May 25, 1963
|...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 without adopting a single African Charter....
|We welcome to Ethiopia in Our name and in the name of the Ethiopian Government and |
people, the Heads of State and Government of independent African nations who are
today assembled in solemn conclave in Ethiopia's capital city. This Conference,
without parallel in history, is an impressive testimonial to the devotion and dedication
of which we all partake in the cause of our mother continent and that of her sons and
daughters. This is indeed a momentous and historic day for Africa and for all Africans.
We stand today on the stage of world affairs, before the audience of world opinion. We
have come together to assert our role in the direction of world affairs and to discharge
our duty to the great continent whose two hundred and fifty million people we lead.
Africa is today at mid-course in transition from the Africa of Yesterday to the Africa of
Tomorrow. Even as we stand here, we move from the past into the future. The task on
which we have embarked, the making of Africa, will not wait. We must act, to shape
and mould the future and leave our imprint on events as they slip past into history.
|H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I OAU Meeting & Gathering|
|We seek, at this meeting, to determine whither we are going and to chart the course of |
our destiny. It is no less important that we know whence we came. An awareness of
our past is essential to the establishment of our personality and our identity as Africans.
This world was not created piecemeal. Africa was born no later and no earlier than any
other geographical area on this globe. Africans, no more and no less than other men,
possess all human attributes, talents and deficiencies, virtues and faults. Thousands of
years ago, civilizations flourished in Africa which suffer not at all by comparison with
those other continents. In those centuries, Africans were politically free and
economically independent. Their social patterns were their own cultures truly
The obscurity which enshrouds the centuries which elapsed between those earliest
days and the rediscovery of Africa are being gradually dispersed. What is certain is that
during those long years Africans were born, lived and died. Men on other parts of this
earth occupied themselves with their own concerns and, in their conceit, proclaimed
that the world began and ended at their horizons. All unknown to them, Africa
developed in its own pattern, growing in its own life and in the Nineteenth Century,
finally re-emerged into the world's consciousness.
|The events of the past hundred and fifty years require no extended recitation from Us. |
The period of colonialism into which we were plunged culminated with our continent
fettered and bound; with our once proud and free peoples reduced to humiliation and
slavery; with Africa's terrain cross-hatched and checker-boarded by artificial and
arbitrary boundaries. Many of us, during those bitter years, were overwhelmed in
battle, and those who escaped conquest did so at the cost of desperate resistance and
bloodshed. Others were sold into bondage as the price extracted by the colonialists for
the "protection" which they extended and the possessions of which they disposed.
Africa was a physical resource to be exploited and Africans were chattels to be
purchased bodily or, at best, peoples to be reduced to vassalage and lackey hood.
Africa was the market for the produce of other nations and the source of the raw
materials with which their factories were fed.
Today, Africa has emerged from this dark passage. Our Armageddon is past. Africa has
been reborn as a free continent and Africans have been reborn as free men. The blood
that was shed and the sufferings that were endured are today Africa's advocates for
freedom and unity. Those men who refused to accept the judgement passed upon them
by the colonizers, who held unswervingly through the darkest hours to a vision of an
Africa emancipated from political, economic, and spiritual domination will be
remembered and revered wherever Africans meet. Many of them never set foot on this
continent. Others were born, and died here. What we may utter today can add little to
the heroic struggle of those who, by their example, have shown us how precious are
freedom and human dignity and of how little value is life without them. Their deeds
are written in history.
|Africa's victory, although proclaimed, is not yet total, and areas of resistance still |
remain. Today, We name as our first great task the final liberating of those Africans still
dominated by foreign exploitation and control. With the goal in sight, and unqualified
triumph within our grasp, lest us not now falter or lag or relax. We must make one final
supreme effort; now, when the struggle grows, weary when so much has been won that
the thrilling sense of achievement has brought us near satiation. Our liberty is
meaningless unless all Africans are free. Our brothers in the Rhodesia, in Mozambique,
in Angola in South Africa cry out in anguish for our support and assistance. We must
urge on their behalf their peaceful accession to independence. We must align and
identify ourselves with all aspects of their struggle. It would be betrayal were we to
pay only lip service to the cause of their liberation and fail to back our words with
action. To them we say, your pleas shall not go unheeded. The resources of Africa and
of all freedom-loving nations are marshaled in your service. Be of good heart, for your
deliverance is at hand.
As we renew our vow that all of Africa shall be free, let us also resolve that old wounds
shall be healed and past scars forgotten. It was thus that Ethiopia treated the invader
nearly twenty-five years ago, and Ethiopians found peace with honour in this course.
Memories of past injustice should not divert us from the more pressing business at
hand. We must live in peace with our former colonizers, shunning recrimination and
bitterness and forswearing the luxury of vengeance and retaliation, lest the acid of
hatred erode our souls and poison our hearts. Let us act as befits the dignity which we
claim for ourselves as Africans, proud of our own special qualities, distinctions and
abilities. Our efforts as free men must be to establish new relationships, devoid of any
resentment and hostility, restored to our belief and faith in ourselves as individuals,
dealing on a basis of equality with other equally free peoples.
|Today, we look to the future calmly, confidently and courageously. We look to the |
vision of an Africa not merely free but united. In facing this new challenge we can take
comfort and encouragement from the lessons of the past. We know that there are
differences among us. Africans enjoy different cultures, distinctive values, special
attributes. But we also know that unity can be and has been attained among men of the
most disparate origins, that differences of race, of religion, of culture, of tradition, are
no insuperable obstacle to the coming together of peoples. History teaches us that
unity is strength and cautions us to submerge and overcome our differences in the
quest for common goals, to strive, with all our combined strength, for the path to true
African brotherhood and unity.
There are those who claim that African unity is impossible that the forces that pull us,
some in this direction, others in that, are too strong to be overcome. Around us there is
no lack of doubt and pessimism, no absence of critics and criticism. These speak of
Africa, of Africa's future and of her position in the Twentieth Century in sepulchral
tones. They predict dissension and disintegration among Africans and internecine
strife and chaos on our continent. Let us confound these and, by our deeds, disperse
them in confusion. There are others whose hopes for Africa are bright, who stand with
faces upturned in wonder and awe at the creation of a new and happier life, who have
dedicated themselves to its realization and are spurred on by the example of their
brothers to whom they owe the achievements of Africa's past. Let us reward their trust
and merit their approval.
|The road of African unity is already lined with landmarks. The last years are crowded |
with meetings, with conferences with declarations and pronouncements. Local
groupings based on common interests, backgrounds and traditions have been created.
But though 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 debates about techniques and
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 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 conscious, 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
has been retarded because of tribal strife.
|But while we agree that the ultimate destiny of this continent lies in 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 peoples did not emerge into liberty in
uniform conditions. Africans maintain different political systems; our economies are
diverse; our social orders are rooted in differing cultures and traditions. Furthermore,
no clear consensus exists on the "how" and the "what" of this union. Is it to be, in form,
federal, confederal or unitary? Is the sovereignty of individual states to be reduced,
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
advanced, 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 which 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 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 built.
Thus, a period of transition is in inevitable. Old relations and arrangements may for a
time, linger. Regional organizations may fulfil legitimate functions and needs which
cannot yet 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 their is unanimity of opinion. Let us
seize on these areas of agreement and exploit them to 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 to 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 interests would be best served by a divided and balkanized
continent, would derive much satisfaction from the unhappy spectacle of thirty and
more African States so split, so paralysed 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. If we act where we may in those areas where action is
possible, the inner logic of the programmes which we adopt will work for us and
inevitably impel us still farther 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 wish 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
Africa's problems may be studied and resolved. We need an organization which will
facilitate acceptable solutions to disputes among Africans and promote the study and
adoption of measures for common defence and programmes for co-operation in the
economic and social fields. Let us, at this Conference, create a single institution to
which we will 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 decisions there will be dictated by Africans and only by Africans and that they will
take full account of all vital African considerations.
|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 without adopting a
single African Charter. We cannot close without adopting a single African organization
possessed of 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
Africa'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 programme, 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 neighbouring States are often difficult or even
impossible. It is little wonder that trade among us has 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.
|An additional project to be implemented without delay is the creation of an African |
Development Bank, a proposal to which all our Governments have given full support
and which has already received intensive study. The meeting of our Finance Ministers
to be held within the coming weeks in Khartoum should transform this proposal into
fact. This same meeting could appropriately continue studies already undertaken of
the impact upon Africa of existing regional economic groupings, and initiate further
studies to accelerate the expansion of economic relations among us.
The nations of Africa, as is true of every continent of the world, had from time to time
dispute among themselves. These quarrels must be confined to this continent and
quarantined from the contamination of non-African interference. Permanent
arrangements must be agreed upon to assist in the peaceful settlement of these
disagreements which, however few they may be, cannot be left to languish and fester.
Procedures must be established for the peaceful settlement of disputes, in order that
the threat or use of force may no longer endanger the peace of our continent.
Steps must be taken to establish an African defence system. Military planning for the
security of this continent must be undertaken in common within a collective
framework. The responsibility for protecting this continent from armed attacks from
abroad is the primary concern of Africans themselves. Provision must be made for the
extension of speedy and effective assistance when any African State is threatened with
military aggression. We cannot rely solely on international morality. Africa's control
over her own affairs is dependent on the existence of appropriate military
arrangements to assure this continent's protection against such threats. While
guarding our own independence, we must at the same time determine to live peacefully
with all nations of the world.
|Africa has come to freedom under the most difficult and trying circumstances. No small |
measure of the handicaps under which we labour derive from the low educational level
attained by our peoples and from their lack of knowledge of their fellow Africans.
Education abroad is at best an unsatisfactory substitute for education at home. A
massive effort must be launched in the educational and cultural fields which will not
only raise the level of literacy and provide the cadres of skilled and trained technicians
requisite to our growth and development but, as well, acquaint us one with another.
Ethiopia, several years ago, instituted a programme of scholarships for students
coming from other African lands which has proved highly rewarding and fruitful, and
We urge others to adopt projects of this sort. Serious consideration should be given to
the establishment of an African University, sponsored by all African States, where
future leaders of Africa will be trained in an atmosphere of continental brotherhood. In
this African institution, the supra-national aspects of African life would be emphasized
and study would be directed toward the ultimate goal of complete African unity.
Ethiopia stands prepared here and now to decide on the site of the University and to fix
the financial contributions to be made to it.
This is but the merest summary of what can be accomplished. Upon these measures
we are all agreed, and our agreement should now form the basis for our action.
|Africa has become an increasingly influential force in the conduct of world affairs as the |
combined weight of our collective opinion is brought to focus not only on matters
which concern this continent exclusively, but on those pressing problems which
occupy the thoughts of all men everywhere. As we have come to know one another
better and grown in mutual trust and confidence, it has been possible for us to
co-ordinate our policies and actions and contribute to the successful settlement of
pressing and critical world issues.
This has not been easy. But co-ordinated action by all African States on common
problems is imperative if our opinions are to be accorded their proper weight. We
Africans occupy a different -- indeed a unique -- position among the nations of this
Century. Having for so long known oppression, tyranny and subjugation, who, with
better right, can claim for all the opportunity and the right to live and grow free men?
Ourselves for long decades the victims of injustice, whose voices can be better raised in
the demand for justice and right for all? We demand an end to colonialism because
domination of one people by another is wrong. We demand an end to nuclear testing
and the arms race because these activities, which pose such dreadful threats to man's
existence and waste and squander humanity's material heritage, are wrong. We
demand an end to racial segregation as an affront to man's dignity which is wrong. We
act in these matters in the right, as a matter of high principle. We act out of the
integrity and conviction of our most deep-founded beliefs.
If we permit ourselves to be tempted by narrow self-interest and vain ambition, if we
barter our beliefs for short-term advantage, who will listen when we claim to speak for
conscience, and who will contend that or words deserve to be heeded? We must speak
out on major world issues, courageously, openly and honestly, and in blunt terms of
right and wrong. If we yield to blandishments or threats, if we compromise when no
honourable compromise is possible, our influence will be sadly diminished and or
prestige woefully prejudiced and weakened. Let us not deny our ideals or sacrifice our
right to stand as the champions of the poor, the ignorant, the oppressed everywhere.
The acts by which we live and the attitudes by which we act must be clear beyond
question. Principles alone can endow our deeds with force and meaning. Let us be
true to what we believe, that our beliefs may serve and honour us.
|We reaffirm today, in the name of principle and right, our opposition to prejudice, |
wherever and in whatever form it may be found, and particularly do we rededicate
ourselves to the eradication of racial discrimination from this continent. We can never
rest content with our achievements so long as men, in any part of Africa, assert on
racial grounds their superiority over the least of our brothers. Racial discrimination
constitutes a negation of the spiritual and psychological equality which we have fought
to achieve and denial of the personality and dignity which we have struggled to
establish for ourselves as Africans. Our political and economic liberty will be devoid of
meaning for so long as the degrading spectacle of South Africa's apartheid continues to
haunt our waking hours and to trouble our sleep. We must redouble our efforts to
banish this evil from our land. If we persevere, discrimination will one day vanish from
the earth. If we use the means available to us, South Africa's apartheid, just as
colonialism, will shortly remain only as a memory. If we pool our resources and use
them well, this spectre will be banished forever.
In this effort, as in so many others, we stand united with our Asian friends and
brothers. Africa shares with Asia a common background of colonialism, of exploitation,
of discrimination, of oppression. At Bandung, African and Asian States dedicated
themselves to the liberation of their two continents from foreign domination and
affirmed the right of all nations to develop in their own way, free of any external
interference. The Bandung Declaration and the principles enunciated at that
Conference remain today valid for us all. We hope that the leaders of India and China,
in the spirit of Bandung, will find the way to the peaceful resolution of the dispute
between their two countries.
|We must speak, also, of the dangers of the nuclear holocaust which threatens all that |
we hold dear and precious, including life itself. Forced to live our daily existence with
this foreboding and ominous shadow ever at our side, we cannot lose hope or lapse
into despair. The consequences of an uncontrolled nuclear conflict are so dreadful that
no sane man can countenance them. There must be an end to testing. A programme of
progressive disarmament must be agreed upon. Africa must be freed and shielded, as a
denuclearized zone, from the consequences of direct, albeit, involuntary involvement in
the nuclear arms race.
The negotiations at Geneva, where Nigeria, the United Arab Republic and Ethiopia are
participating, continue, and painfully and laboriously, progress is being achieved. We
cannot know what portion of the limited advances already realized can be attributed to
the increasingly important role being played by the non-aligned nations in these
discussions, but we can, surely, derive some small measure of satisfaction in even the
few tentative steps taken toward ultimate agreement among the nuclear powers. We
remain persuaded that in our efforts to scatter the clouds which rim the horizon of our
future, success must come, if only because failure is unthinkable. Patience and grim
determination are required, and faith in the guidance of Almighty God.
|We would not close without making mention of the United Nations. We personally, |
Who have throughout Our lifetime been ever guided and inspired by the principle of
collective security, would not now propose measures which depart from or are
inconsistent with this ideal or with the declarations of the United Nations Charter. It
would be foolhardy indeed to abandon a principle which has withstood the test of time
and which has proved its inherent value again and again in the past. It would be worse
than folly to weaken the one effective world organization which exists today and to
which each of us owes so much. It would be sheer recklessness for any of us to detract
from this organization which, however imperfect, provides the best bulwark against the
incursion of any forces which would deprive us of our hard-won liberty and dignity.
The African Charter of which We have spoken is wholly consistent with that of the
United Nations. The African organization which We envisage is not intended in any
way to replace in our national or international life that position which the United
Nations has so diligently earned and so rightfully occupies. Rather, the measure which
We propose would complement and round out programmes undertaken by the United
Nations and its specialized agencies and, hopefully, render both their activities and
ours doubly meaningful and effective. What we seek will multiply many times over the
contribution which our joint endeavours may make to the assurance of world peace
and the promotion of human well-being and understanding.
|A century hence, when future generations study the pages of history, seeking to follow |
and fathom the growth and development of the African continent, what will they find of
this Conference? Will it be remembered as an occasion on which the leaders of a
liberated Africa, acting boldly and with determination, bent events to their will and
shaped the future destinies of the African peoples? Will this meeting be memorialized
for its solid achievements, for the intelligence and maturity which marked the decisions
taken here? Or will it be recalled for its failures, for the inability of Africa's leaders to
transcend local prejudices and individual differences, for the disappointment and
disillusionment which followed in its train?
These questions give us all pause. The answers are within our power to dictate. The
challenges and opportunities which open before us today are greater than those
presented at any time in Africa's millennial of history. The risks and the dangers which
confront us are no less great. The immense responsibilities which history and
circumstance have thrust upon us demand balanced and sober reflection. If we
succeed in the tasks which lie before us, our names will be remembered and our deeds
recalled by those who follow us. If we fail, history will puzzle at our failure and mourn
what was lost. We approach the days ahead with the prayer that we who have
assembled here may be granted the wisdom, the judgment and the inspiration which
will enable us to maintain our faith with the peoples and the nations which have
entrusted their fate to our hands.
|Haile Selassie the First - May 25, 1963|