SPEECH BY FORMER PRESIDENT F W DE KLERK TO THE CONFERENCE OF THE OSIGWE ANYIAM-OSIGWE FOUNDATION, LAGOS, 29 NOVEMBER 2001
Mr President, Your Excellencies, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen.
President Obasanjo and President Mbeki have called on us to make the 21st century the African century. They have said that the time has come for Africa to emerge from a long period of darkness and fear into one of light and a dream fulfilled. They have called for the establishment of a New Partnership for Africa’s Development to translate this dream into reality.
The question that I would like to ask today is: how is this going to happen? What will we as Africans have to do to turn this dream into reality? What will our governments have to do? What will the world have to do?
The challenges and the problems are great:
How, under these circumstances, are we going to be able to compete in a globalising world? How will we be able to claim the 21st century for ourselves when so many of the cards seem to be stacked against us?
I believe that if all those involved play their proper roles, then we need not be overawed by these challenges; then we can succeed.
The international community can contribute to our success by ensuring that we are treated fairly in the globalisation process:
However – much as the international community can help – at the end of the day it is we Africans who will have to determine whether or not the 21st century will belong to us. We must develop the confidence, the values and the skills that we will need for this task. We must break away from the victim mentality that has been imposed on us for so long. We must accept that we are in command of our own destiny – and that we can turn our dreams into reality.
What do our governments need to do?
In the first place, they need to stop the wars and conflicts. Nothing will be achieved in circumstances of violence and chaos. We will not attract foreign investment. There won’t be economic growth. Nothing will improve. The continuing wars on our continent should be an affront to every one of us. None of us should rest until we have brought peace to Africa – to the Congo; to Angola; to Sudan; to Sierra Leone – wherever there is any threat of violence.
We in South Africa have shown that it is possible to solve even the most intractable disputes. Former President Mandela has done magnificent work in helping to establish peace in a country as deeply divided as Burundi. Nigeria has been working for peace in West Africa – particularly in Sierra Leone.
Secondly, we must promote and consolidate democracy and the rule of law in Africa. We have made great progress in this regard. Both South Africa and Nigeria have become beacons of democracy in our respective regions.
Freedom and democracy are just as much the birthright of Africans as they are of Europeans, or Asians or Americans.
Thirdly, we must promote the values that are essential to any successful society – integrity; respect for the law; compassion; justice; diligence and healthy patriotism. These values must be the foundation of our campaign to claim the 21st century for ourselves. Without them we will regress into a swamp of corruption; crime, selfishness and exploitation.
Finally, if we wish to claim the 21st century for ourselves our governments must adopt the right economic policies. They must adopt policies that will attract foreign investment and enable us to compete successfully in the globalised economy. This, in turn, will require frugal and honest government; fiscal discipline; free markets and an environment in which we can liberate the economic creativity of our people to produce wealth without over-regulation and interference.
These are some of things that our governments can do to make this the century of Africa. But they cannot do it alone. They need the support of our businessmen; of our religious communities; and of civil society. Above all, they need the support of all of us – of all the people of Africa.
Ultimately, it is we, the men and women of Africa, who will determine whether or not the 21st century will belong to us. All of us must rally to the cause. We need to join in an ethical and social revolution. We must build on the values of social caring and commonality that are inherent in traditional African society – what we in South Africa call ubuntu. As individuals, as families and communities,
If we can do these things, the 21st century will belong to us.
With this objective in mind the Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation and my foundation – the F W de Klerk Foundation have joined hands to establish the African Institute for Democracy and Human Develop in Nigeria. The central objective of the Institute will be to promote and propagate the values and the approaches that will be essential for the success of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.
The Institute will offer workshops, training programmes and projects throughout Nigeria.
We have released further details regarding the Institute to the media this morning.
We hope that in this manner our foundations will be able to make a modest contribution to achieving the dream that our leaders have articulated – the dream of ensuring that Africa takes its rightful place among the continents of the world at the forefront of human development and progress. In this process the international community can provide valuable support; our governments can provide clear and inspired leadership; but ultimately it will be the ordinary men and women of Africa who will determine whether this century will belong to us.
The African century will begin with us as individuals. It must then take root in our families, our communities, our religious organisations and our businesses. From there it must become established in our parliaments and governments. And then it must spread to every corner of the continent – so that when the 22nd century finally dawns our children will be able to look back and say:
“ yes, this was the century when we Africans took our rightful place in peace, prosperity and equality with all the other peoples of the world!”