Madam Speaker and, I think I may say, Comrade President and Comrade Vice President, ladies and gentlemen. I have told you already how I felt when you asked me to come and talk here. And then I got the message that you were coming. Of course, I am happy you are here, but what do I say in your presence in this House? This is not my first time here. I have been here before and I have thanked you, but I must thank you again. For me to come here to this Chamber and address you is a dream which you have helped me to make true. How could any one of us have thought that it would be possible for me or people of my type to come to this country and speak from a forum like this? So, Mr. President, and all your colleagues, I say thank you very much for making this possible.
J.K.Nyerere, Cape Town 16th October 1997 – Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere:-
Now, as for sharing my thoughts with you: my thoughts, unfortunately, don’t change, so a lot of what I am going to say some of you will have heard before, but some of you have not. I am going to say two things about Africa. One, that Africa south of the Sahara is an isolated region of the world. That’s the first thing I want to say. The second thing I want to say is that Africa south of the Sahara is not what it is believed to be because Africa is now changing. So let me see if I can share those thoughts with you in a very short period.
Africa south of the Sahara is an isolated region of the world. During the last ten years, since my retirement as head of state of my country, I was asked, and I agreed, to establish something called the South Commission. That has meant a lot of travelling. I have been many times to Latin America, many times to Asia, many times to many parts of Africa before coming here, and many times to a large number of countries in Europe.
The world is changing. It is not only Africa which is changing. The world is changing. Of the three big power blocs developing in the world since the end of the Cold War, one — the obvious one – is the United States. It has always been there. The United States is building around it a group of other countries. That is the obvious area of power. It is the one which is very clear. Another is Europe, which is also an obvious power bloc. The third is Japan and the areas of Asia around it.
The US has neighbours. One of them is Mexico, from the Third World. A President of Mexico is reported to have said once — this is a president of the country — “Poor Mexico! So far from God, and so near to the United States!”. When he said that, what Mexicans were reaping were the disadvantages of being close to the United States. They were not getting any advantages at all from being so close to the United States.
The US is rich and there is a kind of osmosis – a political osmosis, but I think also an economic osmosis. The economy of the US pulls people from Mexico into the United States. The US has been trying very hard to stop these poor Mexicans from getting into the US, but without success. They spend a lot of money on the border, and have a lot of police there. I don’t know whether they have electric fences and other things to try to prevent Mexicans going to the US, but they can’t succeed. They have not succeeded. Mexicans keep pouring into the United States.
The United States had decided to change its policy. They have invited Mexico to join NAFTA, and now they are working together to create jobs in Mexico to prevent poor Mexicans from looking for jobs in the United States. I think they will succeed and Mexicans will now want to remain in Mexico. Some will still want to go to the United States, but the flood can be stemmed. There will not be a flood of Mexicans going to the United States.
What is happening between Mexico and the US is happening in Europe. Europe is a powerhouse — not a political powerhouse or even a military power house like the US, but an economic powerhouse, and one of these days, I think, they are actually going to be a bigger powerhouse than USA. They are a power and are attracting people: again there is osmosis there, the economic osmosis. Who are pulled there? East Europeans are pulled towards Europe.
But the others who are pulled towards the economic power are from Mediterranean Africa, Africa north of the Sahara. That is why I was talking about Africa south of the Sahara being the isolated region in the world. So Eastern Europe and Mediterranean Africa are to Europe what Mexico is to the US.
Geography, the logic of geography, means that if you have problems of unemployment in Eastern Europe, East Europeans will want to move into Western Europe. The Germans know it, and others know it. They will try to keep them out. They will not try to keep them out by building fences or putting up another wall. They will try to help East Europeans to stay at home by creating jobs in Eastern Europe, and they are already doing that. They will do the same with regard to the Africans of North Africa.
So Europe has a policy with regard to the countries of North Africa — not simply an economic policy, but actually a security policy. The French, the Italians, the Portuguese, the Spaniards — those are the ones in particular who are frightened of a flood of unemployment from North Africa into Europe. And some, of course, are afraid not only of the unemployed. Some think they don’t like the export of Islamic fundamentalism into Europe. But I think that’s a minor problem. The real problem is unemployment, people moving into Europe from North Africa. Europe has a plan. They can’t just sit there and watch this happening. European countries will have to work together to help the countries of North Africa to create jobs.
The other bloc is Japan. Japan is small, Japan is wealthy, Japan doesn’t like other people going to Japan. They don’t like that. But they are a big trading nation and they are pouring a lot of money into Asia, and I think they’ll do it in China also. I don’t think they’ll be frightened of China. They’ll put money in China.
So there are those three blocs of countries, three power blocs — power developing in Asia, power developing in North America, power developing in Europe- and those countries which are geographically in the orbit of those areas. These rich areas are being forced to help the countries which are near them.
Africa south of the Sahara is different – completely different. It’s not in the orbit of any of those big areas. If you people here are unemployed, very few of you will want to go to the US. The unemployed here will stay here. But so will unemployed in Tanzania. We’ll not go to the US. We’ll not go Europe. Certainly we’d never dream of going to Japan or anywhere else. A trickle will go out — the stowaways. But there is no answer to our unemployment in running away from where we are. And if you try it, it won’t work.
So the USA is not frightened of unemployment in Africa south of the Sahara. It’s your problem. It’s not their problem. They will not do here or in Tanzania or in Nigeria, what they are doing about Mexico. No, it’s not a problem for them, and it’s not a problem for Europe either. Europe has a problem arising from Algeria, yes, or even from Egypt, from that part of the world. But from Africa south of the Sahara? No, they’ve no fear of a problem there. There is no flood of unemployed moving from this area going to Europe to seek jobs. So what would be the imperative from Europe? What pressure has Europe to deal with you people, unless you create some very attractive means of attracting a few business people?
And in Asia, the Japanese are afraid that if they don’t share their wealth with some of the poor, these poor might come to Japan. Those poor are not the African poor from this part of the world. They are from Asia.
So that is the first thing I wanted to say about Africa south of the Sahara. You are isolated from the centres of power. There is no internal urge in the US, in Europe or in Japan to help Africa. None. And, I think, to some extent the urge of imperialism has gone. So you could easily be forgotten. Africa is of interest when we are killing one another. Then we arouse a lot of interest. The big news now in Europe and North America is not here. It’s in Congo Brazzaville; Congo Brazzaville is now big news. The television screens are full of what is happening in Congo Brazzaville. That’s news. And won’t last for long. It might last until the end of this week, then it’s out. And then, if Africa wants to appear on European television, we can cause more trouble somewhere, I think I’ve made that point.
Africa south of the Sahara is isolated. Africa south of the Sahara, in the world today, is on its own — totally on its own. That’s the first thing I wanted to say. The second thing I wanted to say is that Africa is changing. I’ve been to Europe, Asia, North America and Latin America, and Africa is a stereotype. The Africa which now arouses some interest is the Brazzaville Africa, that Rwanda Africa, that Somalia Africa, that Liberia Africa. That is the Africa which arouses interest, and I don’t blame these people. That’s the Africa that they know.
And so I go out. I come from Tanzania, and we don’t have these blessed troubles that they have in other places, but I go out. Sometimes I get annoyed, but sometimes I don’t get annoyed. Here I am a former president of my country. There are no problems in Tanzania — we have never had these problems that they have — but I’m an African. So when they see me they ask about the problems of Rwanda. I say, “I don’t come from Rwanda.” And they answer, “But you come from Africa” But if Blair were to come to Dar es Salaam, I wouldn’t ask him what is happening in Bosnia. If I meet President Kohi somewhere. I don’t ask him, “what is happening in Chechnya? Kohi could say, “Why are you asking about Chechnya? I don’t know hat is happening in Chechnya.”
But this is not true about Africa. Mr. President, here you are trying to build something which is a tremendous experience, but perhaps you are different. Sometimes they think South Africa is different, so perhaps they would say, “This is President Mandela, this is different.” But for the likes of me, no, I am an African. And sometimes I get irritated, but then I say, “Why? Why do I get irritated?” Because, of course, I am a Tanzanian.
But what is this Tanzania? Why should these Europeans see me as a Tanzanian? What is this Tanzania? This is something we tried to create in my lifetime. I built Tanzania. So what is this Tanzania? The Europeans are right. The North Americans are right to look at me as an African, not as a Tanzanian, because Tanzania is a creation of colonialism, which is causing us a lot of trouble on the continent.
So, to some extent, Europeans are right when they choose to see us in this differentiated manner. The Tanzania here is a president of Tanzania. He struggled there for 23 years before he stepped down to try and turn those 125 tribes into some kind of nation, and he has succeeded to some extent. This is what I want them to think of. Why? They see me correctly as an African. So that is where I want to end. This is the other thing I really wanted to say.
Africa South of the Sahara is isolated, Africa south of the Sahara is changing. That stereotype of “There is trouble in Africa all the time” is nonsensical. There is trouble in Africa, there is trouble in Asia, there is trouble in Europe, there is trouble everywhere, and it would be amazing if after the suffering of the blessed continent for the last 100 years, we didn’t have what we are having. Some of these nations we have are not nations at all. They make no sense at all, any geographical sense or ethnic sense or economic sense. They don’t. The Europeans set somewhere and said, “you take that part, you take that part.” They drew these lines on a map and here we are, trying to create nations which are almost impossible to create. But we are changing. The continent is changing.
My friend who was introducing me mentioned neocolonialism. I’m glad you still use the word “neocolonialism”, because, you know. We went through a period when some of our people thought we were so advanced now to talk about neocolonialism. Uh-uh, no, no. It is almost communist to talk about neocolonialism. He is a communist? Well, I am not a communist, but I agree with you! We went through a neocolonial period in Africa. It nearly destroyed all the hopes of the struggle for the liberation of the continent, with a bunch of soldiers taking over power all over the continent, pushed, instigated and assisted by the people who talk about this stereotype of Africa.
We have just got rid of Mobutu, who put him there? I don’t know what Lumumba would have been if he had been allowed to live. I don’t know. He was an elected leader, but angered the powerful and they removed him within weeks. Then Mobutu came on the scene within weeks and he’s been there since. He was the worst of the lot. He loots the country, he goes out, and he leaves that country with a debt of US$14 billion.
That money has done nothing for the people of Congo. So I sit down with friends of the World Bank and IMF. I say, “You know where that money is. Are you going to ask Kabila to tax the poor Congolese to pay that money? That would be a crime. It’s criminal.” And that was the type of leadership we had over a large part of Africa. They were leaders put there either by the French or by the Americans. When we had the Cold War, boy, I tell you, we couldn’t breathe.
But Africa is changing. You can make a map of Africa and just look at the countries stretching from Eritrea to here. Just draw a line and see all those countries. You still have a Somalia and a Burundi there, but it’s a very different kind of Africa now, it has elected governments, it has confident governments. Actually, most of those countries with the exception of Uganda, have never been under military rule. Never! And since your coming onto the scene, this is completely different kind of Africa.
When we were struggling here, South Africa still under apartheid, and you being a destabiliser of your neighbours instead of working together with them to develop our continent, of course that was a different thing. It was a terrible thing. Here was a powerful South Africa, and this power was a curse to us. It was not a blessing for us. We wished it away, because it was not a blessing at all.
It destroyed Angola with a combination of apartheid; it was a menace to Mozambique and a menace to its neighbours, but that has changed. South Africa is democratic. South Africa is no longer trying to destroy the others. South Africa is now working with the others. And, boy please work with the others!
And don’t accept this nonsense that South Africa is big brother. My brother, you can’t be big brother. What is your per capita income? Your per capita income is about US$3,000 a year. Of course compared with Tanzania you are a giant. But you are poor. When you begin to use that money this is arithmetic, simple arithmetic and if you divide the wealth of this country for the population, of course everybody gets US$3, 000, but not everybody in this country is getting US$ 3,000. That would be a miracle. That is simply arithmetic.
So when you begin to use that wealth, Mr. President and I know you are trying to address the legacy of apartheid — you have no money. You are still different from Tanzania, but you have no money. You are still more powerful. So Tanzania and the others to say that South Africa is big brother, and they must not throw their weight around, what kind of weight is that? And, in any case, this would be positive weight, not the negative weight of apartheid.
So this is a different Africa. I am saying that this Africa now is changing. Neocolonialism is being fought more effectively, I think, with a new leadership in Africa. And I believe the one region which can lead this fight is our region. With the end of apartheid and South Africa having joined SADC, this area of Africa is a very solid area. It is an extremely solid area. It is strong, it has serious leaders and these leaders know one another. I know that because where some of them have come from, They have a habit of working together, Mr. President, so let them work together. Deliberately. It should be a serious decision to work together. Why? You have no other choice. You have absolutely no other choice.
South Africa, because of its infrastructure, can attract more investment from Europe, from North America, than Tanzania can. Fine, go ahead. Do it, use your capacity to get as much investment as you can. That’s good. But then don’t be isolated from the rest of Africa. What you build here because of your infrastructure and the relative strength of your economy, you are building for all of us here.
The power that Germany has is European power, and the Europeans are moving together. The small and the big are working together. It is absurd for Africa to think that we, these little countries of Africa, can do it alone. Belgium has 10 million people. Africa south of the Sahara if you exclude South Africa has 470 million Africans, I sit down with the Prime Minister of Belgium, and he talks to me about European unity. I say, “You are small, your country is very small, so how can you talk of European unity with giants like Germany and the others? He says, “This question of the protection of our sovereignty we leave to the big powers. We lost our sovereignty ages ago.”
These countries are old, their sovereignty is old. These Europeans fought wars. When we were studying history, it was the history of the wars of Europe. They fought and fought, and they called their wars World Wars. But now I can’t imagine Europeans fighting. No, war in Europe is an endangered species. I think it’s gone, certainly war between one country and another. The internal problems you will still have, the problem of the Balkans, but that is a reflection of something that is like Africa. So I’m saying that Africa is changing because the leadership in Africa is changing.
Africa is beginning to realise and we should all encourage Africa to get that realisation more and more that we have to depend upon our selves, both at national level and at the collective level. Each of our countries will have to rely upon its own human resources and natural material resources for its development. But that is not enough. The next area to look at is our collectivity, our working together. We all enhance our capacity to develop if we work together.