Haile Selassie; The Lion Of Judah on African Unity
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 pass into history.
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 our personality and our identity as Africans.
This world was not crested 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 of other continents. In those centuries, Africans were politically free and economically independent. Their social patterns were their own and their cultures truly indigenous.
The obscurity which enshrouds the centuries which elapsed beteeen those earliest days and the rediscovery of Africa is 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 Africans terrain cross-hatched and checker – boarded by artificial and arbitrary boundaries Many of us, during those bitter yearn were overwhelmed in battle, and those who escaped conquest did so at the costs 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 vasselage and lackeyhood. 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 colonisers, who held unswervingly through the darkest hours to a vision of an African 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 witten 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 uriqualified triumph within our grasp, let 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 lost, that the thrilling sense of achievement has brought us near satiation. Our liberty is meaningless unless all Africans are free. our brothers in the Rhodesias, 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 liberation and not fail to back our words with action. To them we say, your pleas shall not go unheeded. The resources of Africa and all freedom-loving nations are marshalled in your service. Be of good heart, for your deliverance is at hand.
1. One important lesson that we have learnt from the experience of the last ten years is that we cannot leave the further progress of African unity to take its own direction at its own pace without active guidance from us.
The volume of intra-African trade, which at present, accounts for less than ten percent of our total foreign trade should be progressively increased, so that by the end of the decade trade among African countries should occupy a significant place in the exports of each of our countries.
2. African countries should establish progressive targets for reducing tariffs and other trade barriers among themselves.
3. Our Ministers charged with the responsibility of economic planning should hold regular consultations so as to harmonise our development policies and plans and to open up potential avenues for the expansion of intra-African trade.
Through regular consultations, we should undertake to identify the need for and to establish industries which may cater to our common needs.
This is important, because the scale on which modern industries can become viable today necessitates that we should create in Africa wide economic bases to support a balanced economic state.