October 21, 2019 PAN-AFRICAN MOVEMENT

SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H., PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA AT THE OFFICIAL CLOSING OF THE EASTERN AFRICA REGION PAN AFRICA CONGRESS AT THE KENYATTA INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE, NAIROBI, 12TH AUGUST, 2015

On August 12, 2015 In Statements and Speeches

Your Excellency Hasabu Mohamed Abdulrahman – Vice President of the Republic of the Sudan;Your Excellency Prosper Bazombanza – First Vice President of the Republic of Burundi;Hon. Louise Mushikiwabo – Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Rwanda; Hon. Barnaba Marial Benjamin – Minister for Foreign Affairs and Special Envoy of the President of the Republic of South Sudan;Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire – Chairperson, Global Pan African Movement;Distinguished Delegates;Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. Good morning.  It is a pleasure to share this time with you.  For those who have travelled to be herekaribuni.
  2. For nearly a century, Africans from all over the world have gathered for Pan African Congresses to advance the cause of our freedom.  I applaud the effort you are making to keep the flame of freedom alive.  The participation of so many young people heartens me, and I welcome the resolutions that emerged from your deliberations.
  3. In the short time that I have to address you today, I want to concentrate on arguing that we need to forge a Pan Africanism for our time.  Like our forefathers, we need to recognise the challenges we face, and the opportunities we have to overcome them.
  4. It is my conviction that the success of our Pan Africanism will be judged by its ability to positively transform the economic life of Africa’s individuals and communities.
  5. However, before I make my argument, we need to take a minute to thank those that came before us, to recognise the painful sacrifices that they made on our behalf.  Indeed, to recognise that we stand on the shoulders of giants.
  6. Let us give thanks to our forefathers and foremothers for enduring the greatest atrocities humanity has ever meted out.  For prevailing, with spirits strong enough to pass on the flame of freedom.
  7. Let us thank the visionaries and soldiers of the Pan African movement who, in a century of extraordinary effort, saw us to independence. Because of them, Africans today govern themselves.  African countries are part of the community of nations.  Africans can be found excelling in every field of human endeavourand our continent has the fastest growing economies in the world.

Your Excellencies,DelegatesLadies and Gentlemen,

  1. Let us rise for a minute of silence to honour and remember the heroic Pan Africanists who have left us … Thank you.
  2. As you know, the initial focus of Pan Africanism was to resist European colonisation and exploitation of Africans, in Africaand in its diaspora.
  3. It sought racial equalityand celebrated the values and histories of African peoples at a time when there was a concerted effort to define them as inferior.
  4. Rather than succumb to the divide and rule that characterised colonialism, Pan Africanists regarded all African peoples as a diversity united in its historical experiences, cultural values, and political aspirations for freedom and self-government.
  5. I1945, Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s First President, and the founding father of our nation, spoke for Eastern Africa at the Pan African Congress held in Manchester.  This Congress was different from those that had come before in its militant insistence for an immediate end to colonial rule in Africa.
  1. Jomo Kenyatta told the delegates that the priority was to gain political independence.  He argued that from this would flow the freedom to achieve all the other goals that would make for a truly independent and dignified people.
  2. This focus on winning the political kingdom had within two decades given birth to a wave of newindependent states.
  3. With political freedom came the next phase of the struggle:fighting ignorance, poverty and disease.  And to secure African natural resources for the African people.
  1. I propose to you that fifty years into independence, Pan Africanism must now take as its cornerstone the task of building shared economic prosperity for all Africans.  
  2. I want to argue that to do so requires we come to grips with the nature of the global economy, and our place in it.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. To forge a way forward, we need to begin by acknowledging that Africa has interacted with the rest of the world from the beginning of recorded history.  Not always in positive ways.  For instance, Africans enslaved in far-off plantations and households laid the foundations of the global capitalist system.  
  2. Then came the Berlin Conference with its carving up of the continent and the start of the colonial era.  The focus this time was on natural resources: to alienate us from our land and the minerals buried in it.
  1. It was these two great events, separated by half a millennium that shaped the Pan Africanist vision of free and independent peoples.  This vision gave birth to self-governance and the coming to birth of new states into a global order that had been radically shaped by the winners of World War Two.
  2. For half a century, these statesunited as the African Union,have been the primary mechanism through which the overwhelming majority of Africans sought economic and political development.
  1. Much has been achieved: Africans today live longer than they did under colonial rule; African political identities have expanded beyond the nationskingdoms and communities that the coloniser found; and the international community has been critically shaped by the inclinations and interests of African states.
  2. Africans in this period have also had to contend with the brutal politics of the Cold War that ended a mere 25 years ago.
  3. Since independence, and even more so with the end of the Cold War, Kenyans have grappled with the task of shaping the political kingdom that our Pan Africanist ancestors sought.  Brave Kenyans have demanded that it be anchored in democracy, the accountability of leadership to the people.  The result has been the revolutionising of our governance system.
  4. The constitution we adopted five years ago transformed our governance through devolution.  It brought government closer to the people, so that it is responsive to their local priorities as expressed by their elected officials, civil society or even individually.  We ruled that no laws or major policies could be passed or implemented without the public being involved in the initial deliberations.  Our constitution established that all sovereign power belonged to the people of Kenya.
  5. In Kenyan termsthis constitution, and the fifty years of independent political history that preceded it, represents the winning of the political kingdom.  This does not mean that politics does not matter, or that challenges in that realm have ceased to exist.  But it does mean that we now have the basis to turn to the other goals of Pan Africanism.  Namely the lasting economic liberation of the African people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. We are in a new era.  It is we who will shape Africa’s economic destiny as a wealthy continent.  With clarity of thought, we will build the prosperity that protects and strengthens our independence of action and our freedom in a world that still seeks to control our choices.  The swift rise of Asia is living proof that the status quo that shaped the Cold War and Colonialism is at an end.
  2. Today, we knowfrom the example of Asia, that within two generations, countries and peoples who harness economic value through entrepreneurship, that trade freely, and are competitive on a global basis can move from great poverty to great wealth.  Not just for the few but for the large mass of people.
  3. We also know that for the last decade, African economies have grown as fast as those of Asia did at their strongest.
  4. What is needed now is to ensure that our people, as a whole,share in the making and benefits of this economic growth.
  5. It is growing vibrant economies and the resulting tax revenues from them that will secure the funds we need to expand access to health, education and security for all.  These taxes will not just come from the sale of raw natural resources. From crude oil and metals taken straight from the ground to the port.  
  6. Indeed, if all of Africa’s natural resources were mined at a single go, sold and a cheque distributed to every African, poverty would still afflict us.
  7. Instead, our economic prosperity will come from harnessing the skills and ambition for self-improvement of Africans.
  8. The question, therefore, is what we need to do to unleash the entrepreneurial energies of millions of Africans.  
  9. To allow them to be able to have an idea and go through the difficult, failure-prone, process of delivering it to market.  Without this process being distorted by corruption, exclusion,red tape and the uncompetitive interests of powerful local and global monopolies.
  10. The free movement of African people, and their goods uninhibited throughout the continent would open new horizons for investment and entrepreneurship.  
  11. Tanzanians should be able to easily buy Togolese fabric,Nigerians to enjoy Kenyan milk products, and Ivoirians to enjoy Ugandan Matoke.
  12. Each African should be free to sell to every other Africanespecially now that e-commerce is possible.  Imagine an African Amazon.com with a 10% sales tax only, levied when the goods cross borders, with efficient logistics companies taking advantage of world-class infrastructure.
  13. Imagine a United States of America where Californians could not sell their Silicon Valley products to New Yorkers, or cars from Michigan could not reach Florida.  America would be a much poorer place!
  14. Our growing population, and its marketsuninhibited by the barriers with which we have chained ourselves, would produce great wealth for our farmers, manufacturers, and artisans.

ExcellenciesLadies and Gentlemen,

  1. It is in our power.  We have at our disposal governments,regional economic communities, the African Union, and a range of political and economic instruments.  We must have proper records of our citizensand their ownership of land and other forms of property so that contracts can be properly enforced.  We must strengthen our legal systems and insist that they be as responsive to the poorest as they are to the richest.
  2. The efforts of the small farmer or business owner would be as legally secure as those of the large multinational.  The free flow of information about the opportunities of a single African marketand its global counterparts, would create many great enterprises from humble beginnings.
  3. We would then have greased the wheels of commerce and paved the way for investment, value creation, profits.  
  4. And those profits in our people’s pockets would buy them more secure lives, and eventually the luxury to visit the rest of the world on vacation, rather than as desperate refugees.
  5. This is what it means to win the economic kingdom.  All we need to do is reach out and grasp it.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. We rise to a dawn whose like was last seen in Africa 500 years ago.
  2. The coming of the politically freeproductive, value seeking,and secure African. Combined with our continent’s youthful population, and the freedom of trade and movementit means that Africa, in a generation or twowill bestride the earth as a colossus.
  3. Let me finish by inviting you to visualise that glorious future with me.  Let us gain strength from it to push through the remaining obstacles.
  4. Our long journey to that day, and the values that have informed it, will make us a world power that offers humanity a love of libertyfairness and human dignity.  This has been the enduring promise of Pan Africanism, which we must attain by remaking it for our era.  In the same way our ancestors responded to their own times.
  5. We stand on their shoulders.  Bound to them by the love of freedom; the jealous protection of our independence; our determination to vanquish poverty and insecurity; the joyful embrace of our rich diversity; and our claim to a seat at the high table of human progress.

Thank you and God bless you.