Home » General » President’s speech : The great thinking of great leaders

Sunday Mail, Harare 17 May 2015 . African Union Chair President Mugabe oversaw a peace and reconciliation signing ceremony between the Malian government and separatist rebels at Bamako International Conference Centre in Mali. He delivered an impassioned statement, which touched many and drew a standing ovation from the packed auditorium as he appealed for unity in the West African country, which he also promised to pray for.

Below are excerpts of his delivery.

The Chair of the Mali Peace Process, His Excellency Abdelaziz Boueflika, the President of Algeria the President of the Republic of Mali, His Excellency Ibrahim Boubacar Keita Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States, President John Dramani Mahama of the Republic of Ghana Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Erasmus Mwencha Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union, Ambassador Smail Chergui the United Nations Secretary-Generalrsquos Special Representative for West Africa, Dr Mohamed Chambers honourable ministers here present, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends.I regret I am not a derful country. I will read my English speech later, but for now if I can get someone to translate directly a few words I want to say from my heart.

I came to West Africa in 19linguist. I regret also that I was unable to study French. But I am happy to come to this won58 as a young teacher and that was to Ghana. Ghana had become Independent in 1957 and I wanted to have the experience of a newly-independent African state.When I was in Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah was in charge, and Kwame Nkrumah was talking of African unity.I did not understand what he meant by African unity. But he said we will start African unity with countries, which are next to us, Mali and Guinea Conakry.

He said these two countries of all the Francophone countries were the ones, which had resisted De Gaulle.Sekou Toure in Guinea and Modibo Keita in Mali.And we were told that in each school, let us teach our children that these three countries mdash Ghana, Guinea and Mali mdash were united.So we were teaching our children, ldquohana, Guinea, Mali, Guinea, Ghana, Mali hellip Ghana, Guinea, Mali Mali, Guinea, Ghana. Nkrumah, Sekou Toure, Modibo Keita.rdquo

And then there were visits to each othersrsquo countries Sekou Toure, Modibo Keita and Nkrumah meeting.I got to know the theme of your country, the leader Modibo Keita of great resistance.

Then I knew the history of your country, the great civilisation of Mali with Timbuktu as a famous old city that had developed in this country: a great people of Mali, great fighters, great revolutionaries and great founders also of our African unity.About two years afterwards, then there was talk of uniting the people, and the people of Africa got united in 1963 in Addis Ababa.That was the end now of the unity of Ghana, Guinea, Mali the unity that the three had founded.

They accepted other groupings of Casablanca and Monrovia, and came together as now these were more experienced than the others.They had done their little unity two or three years before the rest of them. I attended mdash then after leaving Ghana mdash as a member of a liberation movement, an observer at the OAU as it was being founded.And there was Modibo Keita, there was Sekou Toure, there was Kwame Nkrumah, there were others who had joined them to found the Organisation of African Unity, to found what is now the African Union.

It started as the Organisation of African Unity, but started in bits with Ghana, Guinea, Mali having taught us that people of Africa can unite.They taught us also that within each of our countries we must be united. Regardless of tribe, we are one. Regardless of religion, we are one. Regardless of our cultural backgrounds, we are one.And they said, ldquoUnited we stand, divided we fall.rdquoThat was the language of Modibo Keita, the language of Kwame Nkrumah, the language of Sekou Toure, which also became the language of Julius Nyerere and others.

Yes, I have come today because of you because you founded African unity.Modibo Keita was there you were there. I am glad and I thank President Keita for inviting me.But I come with a heart that is split. I come with a mind that is confused. How can Mali do this? Who are those who are for disunity?I came now as Chair of our AU. I am also Chairman of the Southern African Development Community, Sadc, and I am also President of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe, born of your efforts born of the efforts of Modibo Keita and the others.(President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita) told me, and this is upon my arrival he said, ldquoMy brother, my brother, I said to myself: What is better to fight and have violence than to talk even to my small brothers, even to the small parties? They are all my people and I will talk to them rather than choose to fight them.rdquo

Thatrsquos what he told me. Thatrsquos the great thinking of a great leader.We dialogue.But tell me all of you here: in whose family, where you have sons and daughters, donrsquot you have quarrels?I have three kids mdash two boys, one girl. They quarrel. Sometimes we say to the youngest, ldquoYou are the one who is annoying the eldest and your elder brother.rdquoldquoOh sure, oh you donrsquot like me.rdquoWe say, ldquoSure, we like you. But donrsquot fight.rdquoThen we celebrate their birthdays they are united. When you are not there, they talk among themselves they are united. And if others want to quarrel with any one of them, they get united. You get these little quarrels, even in the family, even in the village, even in the church.But you sit down and discuss. You sit down and discuss and then you pray also.So, we all are motivated to unite by virtue of the fact that we are one, albeit of different backgrounds, different cultural backgrounds.But we are one as the children of Mali, the children of Guinea-Conakry, the children of Senegal, the children of Ghana, the children of Zimbabwe.

In Africa, we have said we are all one, but our oneness begins in our family of Mali, in our family of Senegal, in our family of Zimbabwe.Then we go to the United Nations and say we are united. We go to our own African Union and we say we are united. But unity begins at home.We have said mdash following one of our leaders (late Vice-President John Landa Nkomo) mdash say to yourself, ldquoUnity begins with me, me in my heart. Unity then begins with you, you in your heart. Unity begins with all of us in our hearts.rdquoWhen we say that to ourselves, we cannot fight because our hearts are united.But he had said, instead of unity, ldquoPeace begins with me in my heart, peace begins with you in your heart, peace begins with them also in their hearts.rdquo

And if our hearts are hearts of peace, hearts of love, then there definitely are hearts of togetherness.We could not fight. We could not think of fighting because we would say, ldquoWhat is kicking in our hearts?rdquoIt is kicking 72 times in a minute, they say. Itrsquos kicking love, love, love. Itrsquos kicking peace, peace, peace not war!So as I commend you, I commend you in the hope that you bring this love to others. And I commend you also in the hope that those that are bent on fighting, should please lay down their arms.

In the Bible they teach us, and also I am sure itrsquos the same teaching of Islam, that we should turn our swords into ploughshares.Instead of there being warring instruments, let them be agricultural instruments. Use the iron of the sword, make it a hoe.And I am glad to hear beautiful messages that have been relayed to us today.(Turning to prepared speech)I acknowledge the role played by our African Union Peace and Security Council, the United Nations Multi-dimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali and the international co-operating partners, notably the European Union, the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation in the search of enduring peace and stability in Mali.

It would be remiss of me not to commend the government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, and the belligerent parties, for signing the preliminary peace deal which has paved way for the signing of this historic agreement today.Their sense of responsibility and recognition that Mali belongs to Malians, placing national unity and the interests of the people of Mali above all, is highly laudable. We praise it. Itrsquos an example that others should copy.

I, therefore, urge all parties to implement the agreement to its letter and spirit.The African Union is convinced that the agreement for peace and reconciliation arising from the Algiers process is balanced, it is fair and takes into account the genuine and legitimate concerns of all parties, and subscribes to national unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty, as well as the secular nature of the Republic of Mali.

A country cannot be torn apart. You canrsquot have one little piece saying it is autonomous. There is no oneness there is no integrity. You lose your integrity that way.All parts, it doesnrsquot matter what people are there, whether they are small culturally, big culturally, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, mdash they are all our people.They are all Malians.They are all under the care of one government of Mali. And that is the sovereign status of a country: thatrsquos what it means, the national supremacy of a country, which must be preserved.But to have that, there has to be stability, there has to be security.

(Prepared speech)

In my capacity as African Union Chair, I would like to reassure the government and people of the Republic of Mali, of the African Unionrsquos full support towards on-going efforts to find lasting solutions to the crisis, and will continue to collaborate with regional and international organisations and partners in facilitating the restoration of political stability.

(Off the cuff)

Letrsquos all work mdash village by village, region by region, and totally in the whole of Mali mdash for political stability, and Mali in the African context in Ecowas, in all our regional organisations, getting all the support you need for this Malian stability.It is absolutely necessary we work together.I, therefore, would like to urge the co-ordination of Azawad Movements.Please, Azawad Movements, we are with you.

We are with you as long as you have peace in your hearts. You are part of us in Africa you are part of us first and foremost as Malians.You are one and the same people as those in the southern part.Lay down your weapons. Use one weapon, which is your mouth and dialogue.Talk, talk and talk. There should never be an end to talking, talking, talking mdash talking peace, talking dialogue. We may quarrel, yes, but after quarrelling say to ourselves, ldquoWhat is the way forward?rdquo

You give and take. You compromise. You canrsquot have it all your way because there are also others who think of themselves, even in the same way as you think of yourself.So, I come to you with a heavy heart. I am only one little fellow, and one little fellow who has seen and learned from our founding fathers mdash Modibo Keita, Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure and others mdash that there is need for us to unite, there is need for us to work together, there is need for us to love each other.There should be peace. We can share the great peace of Mali. Donrsquot forget your revolutionaries.

(Prepared speech)

As we continue to render our assistance in ushering a peaceful political dispensation in this country, the African Union remains committed to bringing about peace and stability on the continent.

(Off the cuff)

The peace in Mali, the peace in Senegal, the peace in Cote drsquoIvoire, the peace in Tanzania, creates total continental peace. We cannot say our continent is a continent of peace when in one corner there is violence.No. Give your own contribution. Let it be your contribution by which the children of tomorrow will remember you in the same way we remember Modibo Keita today.Be the descendants of Modibo Keita and not the fighters of Modibo Keita.

(Prepared speech)

The scourge of terrorism continues to engulf Africa, but we shall continue to fight it for the well-being of our people. All the trouble spots in Africa are receiving the full attention of the African Union through its peace and security architecture and structures.The African Union shall continue to support all the peace processes as it seeks to chart the continentrsquos destiny to ensure that the brotherly and sisterly people of Africa enjoy their full liberties, underpinned by peace and stability.

May I take this opportunity to once again thank the government of Mali and all co-operating partners and stakeholders, for their endeavours to bring lasting peace to Mali. To the Malian people, I want to assure you that the African Union, and the international community at large, shall always stand in solidarity with you as fellow brothers and sisters.

(Off the cuff)

I was born in a Christian family. I never stop praying.I attend church. It doesnrsquot matter whether itrsquos Christian, Muslim or any other church.Because God is one and we are all the children of God, all alike.I assure you in my little prayers, I will also pray to God, that help the people of Mali to find their way to peace and unity.I will do so. I want to assure you.

When I get back to my family, I will sit with them and tell them about the Malians and tell them that I promised to pray for them.And when I get to my pastor, I will say the same, and say: ldquoI have offered to pray let us offer our prayers today at this service to peace in Mali.rdquoI pray with the rosary to God. I promise, I will say it for your peace say it against violence, so the good Lord will descend upon you and His mercies fall upon you.

May God help you, may God be with you.I am one with you. I am one of you. I thank you.

Ends

Source : Ambassade du Zimbabwe au Sénégal

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