Minister Dlamini Zuma's Speech at the
Unversity of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 18 March 2004
Prof. Andreas Eshete, President of the Addis Ababa
Prof. Kinfe Abraham, President of the Ethiopian International
Institute for Peace and Development
Your Excellencies, Ministers of the Ethiopian Government,
Your Excellencies Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen
This has been a historic week for the African continent
as we meet here in Addis to witness the birth of two
key institutions, which bear eloquent testimony to our
collective resolve to take our continent through a new
trajectory of development underpinned by democratic
governance and peaceful resolution of conflicts. These
are the Peace and Security Council and the Pan African
The Peace and Security Council is expected to play
a key role in strengthening the capacity of the African
Union for conflict prevention, management and resolution.
This also entails a comprehensive strategy that includes
post-conflict peace building on the African continent.
We are succeeding in putting the foundations in place
for building African security architecture to enhance
the existing institutions. In this way, we are confident
that the general state of security and stability in
Africa will be enhanced to the immense benefit of the
lives of the African people.
In this week, we also bear witness to the inaugural
session of the first Pan-African Parliament. The establishment
of this key political organ of the African Union is
a crucial and necessary step towards Africa taking control
of its own political future. The prioritization of the
formation of this Parliament is because we recognize
that sustainable development - an improvement in the
quality of our peoples economic well-being - is
inextricably linked to political stability, democratic
governance, conflict prevention and resolution.
The establishment of the Peace and Security Council
together with the first Pan-African Parliament will
go a long way to building African unity and improving
the security of Africas people coupled with creating
and sustainable conditions of political stability. As
the other organs of the African Union are established,
we shall be able to say with confidence that we are
making concrete progress in addressing all aspects of
our peoples lives.
In April this year, in South Africa we shall also celebrate
reaching the important milestone of ten years of democracy,
acknowledging the success of collective efforts during
a decade of work devoted to redressing the legacy of
the apartheid past and of building a non-racial, non-sexist
and democratic country.
Inasmuch as we are excited to have arrived at this
crucial point in our history, our task is not simply
to celebrate but rather to recollect some of the milestones
in this journey towards the freedom of the African people
that have brought us to where we are today and that
have enabled us to work towards a common destiny.
For these are moments that are part of our collective
memory as Africans and they should be etched in our
consciousness as contributing to a great continental
identity that we have armed ourselves with to deal with
the challenges that lie ahead.
We need to step back into a past that is well-known
to us, to further understand the future path that needs
to be taken and why we must walk this road together
as fellow Africans.
We begin by acknowledging that the early history of
Africa is one in which civilization flourished in Egypt,
Ethiopia, Mali, Benin and Sudan among others. The pyramids
among others, today still stand as testimony of past
golden ages, whose writings are evidence of the flowerings
of the intellect and culture. Their achievements were
such that later the Greeks would send their scholars
to these places to learn medicine, philosophy, and geometry.
In Chancellor Williamss The Destruction of Black
Civilizations (1987:39), he describes this early period
from the conquest of Lower Egypt by the Ethiopian leader,
Menes, in 3100 B.C. to the end of the sixth dynasty
2181 as "the Golden Age in the history of the Blacks,
the age in which they reached the pinnacle of a glory
so dazzling that Western and Arab writers felt compelled
to erase it by the sheer power of their position, beginning
black history over 3,000 years later, and limiting it
such as they allowed, to "Africa South of
Yet subsequent conquests and re-alignments erased from
the face of history the gains that had been made in
Africa for world civilization.
The history of our continent over the last 500 years
has largely been one of traumatic epochs, that have
resulted in the impoverishment of the African people.
Firstly, the enslavement of Africans led to loss of
lives and productivity as millions of people were removed
from their families through warfare, social violence
and kidnapping, taken as captives, sold and re-sold
in order to live and work as property of Europeans.
Walter Rodney in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (1989:
105-108) describes the destructive results of the slave
/ chattel trade:
"The massive loss to the African labour force
was made more critical because it was composed of able-bodied
young men and young women
. African economic activity
was affected both directly and indirectly by population
. In effect, enslavement was causing these
people to lose their battle to tame and harness nature
a battle which is at the basis of development.
Violence also meant insecurity. The opportunity presented
by European slave dealers became the major stimulus
for a great deal of social violence between different
African communities and within any given community
Labour was drawn off from agriculture and conditions
The physical loss of productive inhabitants was accompanied
by the notion that Africans were not human and did not
lead productive, civilized lives. Thus racism
simultaneously was developed as ideological justification
for enslavement and later colonization.
Secondly, imperialism and colonialism resulted in raw
materials stolen out of Africa, the destruction of agriculture
and food security and the enforced integration
of Africa into the world economy as unequal and subservient.
Berlin of 1884 lead to the continent being carved up
to become pieces of Europe. In this part of Africa,
the French and the Italians were the would-be conquerors.
Chemical warfare was used on Africans on a wide scale
prior to its use in Europe.
In the southern part, while initially the Dutch had
made inroads, after the Berlin Conference, the Germans,
the English and the Portuguese were the conquerors.
The colonial period resulted in genocide in some parts,
physical oppression and psychological enslavement.
Ngugi wa Thiongo in Decolonzing the Mind (1986:3)
points out that: "The effect of a cultural bomb
is to annihilate a peoples belief in their names,
in their languages, in their environment, in their heritage
of struggle, in their unity, their capacities and ultimately
in themselves. It makes them see their past as one wasteland
of non-achievement and it makes them want to distance
themselves from that wasteland."
Thirdly, neo-colonialism served to perpetuate the economic
exploitation of the African continent with new elites
participating in the looting of wealth, unstable political
systems leading to military rule and conflict, strife
and civil wars and the further impoverishment of Africans
through spiraling international debts coupled with unfavourable
trade relations with the developed world.
While each of these plunged the African continent into
poverty, underdevelopment and relations of dependency,
there have also been victories along the way that are
steadily restoring Africa to a path of growth and independence.
But there have been milestones that we ought to acknowledge
because they were catalytic moments to inspire Africans
in the time to come.
These were defining moments which led to the establishment
of democratic political systems, the establishment of
institutions and procedures to enable Africans to collectively
examine questions of peace, stability and democracy
and collective attempts on the part of Africans to attain
sustainable economic development and qualitatively change
Africas place in the world economy. Popular and
protracted struggles over the last hundred years have
assisted in leading to the realization of these goals.
President Thabo Mbeki speaking at the launch of the
African Renaissance Institute in 1999 comments on this
phenomenon when he makes the following perceptive point:
"Stretching through the mists, for a millennium,
our common African history is replete with great feats
of courage, demonstrated by the heroes and heroines
and the heroic peoples, without whose loyal attachment
to hope and vision of a bright future for Africa, her
people would long have perished. The moment is upon
us when we should draw on this deep well of human nobility
to make this statement an action that Africas
time has come!"
It is in this same spirit that I wish to recall, among
many other struggles, and for our purposes three great
moments in African struggle, one in the beginning of
the 19th century, the other at the end of the same century
and finally the one towards the end of the 20th century,
since I believe that these were some of the great inspirational
moments that influenced the struggles that were to follow
and laid the foundations for greater victories. Spanning
over the time period of a hundred years and stretching
over the length of the African continent, lessons that
can be learnt from them that we need to recall to re-invigorate
our continental struggle.
The victory of the Haitian slaves must be acknowledged
as one such moment. By 1804 inspired by the French Revolution
the San Domingo Revolution in the West Indies was victorious
with the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte and his army leading
to the establishment of the state of Haiti. The slaves
had defeated the local slave owners, the soldiers of
the French monarchy, a Spanish invasion, a British expedition
and French expedition prior to this.
We remember and celebrate this revolt since it is the
only successful slave revolt in history. It was significant
in that it saw the transformation of slaves into a people
who organized themselves under the leadership of Toussaint
LOuverture, (whose father hailed from Benin) and
succeeded in defeating the most powerful European nations
of the time. It is thus as C.L.R. James describes in
his book The Black Jacobins (1963) "one of the
great epics of revolutionary struggle and achievement."
"At bottom the popular movement had acquired an
immense self-confidence. The former slaves had defeated
white colonialists, Spaniards and British, and now they
There was Toussaint, the former slave,
incredibly grand and powerful and incomparably the greatest
man in San Domingo. There was no need to be ashamed
of being black. The revolution had awakened them, had
given them the possibility of achievement, confidence
and pride. That psychological weakness, that feeling
of inferiority with which the imperialists poison colonial
peoples everywhere, these were gone."
(1963:244)Frantz Fanon in Black Skins, White Masks
(1967:231) speaks of this victory when he writes:
"I am a man, and what I have to recapture is the
whole past of the world. I am not responsibly solely
for the revolt in San Domingo. Every time a man has
contributed to the victory of the dignity of the spirit,
every time a man has said no an attempt to subjugate
his fellows, I have felt solidarity with his act
No attempt must be made to encase man, for it is his
destiny to be free. The body of history does not determine
a single one of my actions. I am my own foundation.
And it is by going beyond the historical, instrumental
hypothesis that I will initiate the cycle of my freedom
It is through the effort to recapture the self and to
scrutinize the self, it is through the lasting tension
of their freedom that men will be able to create the
ideal conditions of existence for a human world."
Though victorious, the Haitian people have never known
sustained peace or enduring stability. The powers that
be worried about the influence that such a victory would
have on other similar situations elsewhere, determined
that theirs shall not be recognized. No sooner than
they had denied the people of Haiti their hard earned
recognition, did the slave masters demand monetary compensation
for this independence, which had to be paid for until
the 1940s. As if this was not enough punishment
as determined by the powers that be, Haiti was further
denied the inalienable right to peace and security.
Today, there still remain pockets of resistance among
some of us who still do not recognize the victory of
Haitian people over slavery. Thus it is not difficult
to understand why Haiti remains one of the poorest nations
in the Southern Hemisphere. This is borne out by what
we see happening today in Haiti.
Despite all these challenges, we together with the
Haitian people dare we say indeed "We shall overcome"
The Battle of Adwa is another milestone in the struggle
of Africans to be free. The significance of this event
was that it was meant to be a culmination of the Scramble
for Africa arising out of the Berlin Conference of 1885
and the conquest of the remaining mainland of Ethiopia
was crucial to this. Dare we remind ourselves that a
hundred years later, in 1996, South Africa, for the
first time in its history adopted its new democratic
constitution in which our then Deputy President Thabo
Mbeki declared defiantly and with determination "I
am an African" and thus associating the South African
victory with the struggles of all African people.
The victory of Emperor Menelik and the Ethiopians over
the Italians in 1896 was a victory of Africa over Europe.
As one historian comments: "Not only did Adwa send
shock waves to imperialist Europe, it also became a
victory of freedom for Africans and other freedom-loving
people in the rest of the world." (Adwa Victory
Centenary Conference 1998: 132)
In exploring the "African Dimension of the Battle",
the South African scholar, Hosea Jaffe writes that the
"echo of Adwa was African in dimension -it was
heard over most of the continent." He argues that
historic nature of the Adwa victory was due to the following
achievements, among others:
"The victory staved off imperialist possession
and occupation for nearly 40 years
This was the
first significant historical characteristic of Adwa."
"There is evidence that Adwa was greeted with
acclaim in colonial Africa and Liberia, and that its
memory helped germinate the first modern anti-colonialist
movements when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935. It stimulated
the formation of early African nationalism in Sierra
Leone, Liberia, the Cape and elsewhere and in America
and the Caribbeans promoted Garveyism and the
Pan-African movement inspired by Du Bois."
"Adwa had not only political and cultural moments,
but had a prolonged economic effect: it became a signal
barrier to imperialist colonization and the massive
exploitation of cheap labour in Ethiopia by European
monopoly capitalists which characterized the rest of
Some likened the victory at Adwa to the 1879 epic Zulu
victory over the British at Isandhlawana and acclaimed
the world over. The British army at the time was the
most modern, better-organized and highly trained army
that had hitherto not tasted the bitter fruits of defeat
more so at the hands of what they termed "barbarians".
Yet the determination, military skills, tactics and
prowess of the Zulu army overcame the British forces
against all odds. Thus the history of military strategy
was re-written on the battlefields of the African continent.
The last 50 years have seen the spread of the struggle
for liberation of our continent from colonialism, which
culminated in the triumph of the South African people
and the overthrow of the system, which encapsulated
the worst forms of inhumanity. The defining feature
of this struggle was the collective involvement of all
Africans both on the continent and the diaspora, under
their tried and tested organization, the OAU, to push
back the frontiers of that crime against humanity. Accordingly,
the outcome thereof is itself a collective victory of
all Africans, the diaspora and progressive people of
the world and true to the slogan that "we are our
A hundred years later, as South Africans, we celebrated
the victory of the South African people over apartheid.
It was the struggle for the liberation of the South
African people that led to probably the largest Pan-African
movement of solidarity our continent has seen in modern
times, bringing together governments and civil society
and a global anti-apartheid movement unprecedented in
The culmination of the South African struggle for national
liberation was an inspirational moment for Africa and
the world that colonial rule could finally be defeated
and that a new Africa free of racial discrimination
and oppression could arise.
Over a ten year period, we have consolidated and strengthened
our democracy in South Africa and put the foundations
in the form of legislation and progressive policies
and programmes in place for a non-racial, non-sexist
We have thus spared neither strength nor effort to
make our humble contribution to the deepening of the
second African liberation characterized by the consolidation
of democracy and an increased assertiveness of Africans
in determining our own destiny. The challenges that
lie ahead demands of each and every one of us, as Africans
and the diaspora and together with our partners and
the rest of the world, that we continue the fight to
better the quality of life for all Africans.
For us, the message that Africans are their own liberators
a message that was key in the success of both
the Haitian Revolution and the Battle in Adwa
is a message we ought to still inculcate in all Africas
Haiti gave black people the courage to overcome their
enslavement, Adwa taught us that a victory was possibly
even in modern times and through modern warfare while
the South African victory pointed us to a continent
and a world that could be free of racial oppression
It is under these new circumstances that Africa is
creating the possibility for ending poverty and underdevelopment
and for the establishment of stable democracies, a human
rights culture, political accountability, good governance,
economic and social development and cultural renewal.
Here in Addis as the inaugural meeting place of the
Pan-African Parliament, new approaches to the liberation
of the African people will have to be discussed and
Peace and security remain the cornerstones for sustainable
development as much as economic revival of the continent
is crucial to the success of the African Renaissance.
I am of the firm belief that here in Ethiopia where
civilization flourished thousands of years ago, in this
part of our continent which was once an intellectual
capital to which others came to study, Addis should
be born again and become a centre of intellectual discourse
on all things African.
This university and this centre, together with other
African centres of intellectual excellence should be
the space in which our full identities as Africans are
reclaimed through studies in cultural heritage, cultural
integration and development.
The reclamation of an Afrocentric identity must go
hand in hand with the inculcation of a new consciousness
of what needs to be done to leapfrog Africa into the
The resultant renewal in social and economic studies
should assist the organs of the African Union in attaining
their goals, in pointing out weaknesses and gaps in
what we do and in identifying the directions we ought
to be taking and how we ought to get there. The perils
and possibilities of globalisation ought to be interrogated
by all African thinkers to guide the implementation
processes of our re-insertion into the world economy
I began by saying that we are gathered in Addis to
witness the birth of something new.
I would like to end by saying that both the establishment
of the Peace and Security Council and the Pan African
Parliament also needs to be tended by care-givers, mothers
and fathers of a new phase in our African revolution.
These institutions of our revived Union need to be
nurtured and jealously guarded because we know and can
feel that they mark a historic turn in the rebirth of
We look to the intellectuals here in Addis and at other
institutions throughout our continent to see that we
have the right tools to complete our journey to the
full liberation of the African people.
You must be the mothers and fathers of the new Africa
to come and shape the new generations of African scholars
who will tread this road easier, since we have walked
It is our collective determination to be the subjects
of our own history, the navigators of our own destiny
that must inspire us to reach milestones even greater
than the ones we have arrived at thus far.
Together we can and must hold the future in our own
hands. For the people of Haiti, the people of Ethiopia,
the people of South Africa and throughout the continent
and Diaspora, and for all of humanity, we must indeed
write a new page of history.
Let this process begin in Addis and from here spread
to the rest of the continent, the diaspora and the world.
Africas freedom is dependent on you. I thank
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
18 March 2004.