President Mbeki Address Parliament of Uganda
Frantz Fanon wrote in 'On National Culture' that: "Each generation
must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it."
think we all agree, that the mission of our generation is the renaissance of the
African continent as expressed in the Constitutive Act of the African Union as
well as the development programme of the AU, the New Partnership for Africa's
This mission is to eradicate poverty, ensure
development and prosperity for all our people and promote the goal of African
unity. This reflects our determination to extricate ourselves and the continent
from the malaise of underdevelopment, as well as marginalisation and exclusion
in a globalising world.
Our mission must also include the total emancipation
of women because we know very well that millions of African women are, as we speak
today, still trapped in degrading conditions of poverty and gender discrimination.
To many of these women the taste of the fruit of liberty remains a dream
deferred. Accordingly, we must all agree that Africa will never be free until
all her women are free!
Having discovered the mission of Africa's renewal,
we will not betray it, but together we are obliged by circumstances of history
to fulfil it. In this regard, the new leadership on our continent and the African
masses constitute the army that must eradicate the legacy of centuries of slavery,
colonialism and neo-colonialism.
This is very important because we know
very well that the terrible systems of slavery and colonialism were not satisfied
merely with enslaving and oppressing people. They went to great lengths to ensure
the mental enslavement of the native populations, especially here in Africa. Today
we see many of the consequences of these processes, which targeted the soul of
the African people, among which are the cultural alienation that makes some believe
that colonialism was an important instrument to illuminate our advance out of
Indeed, the colonialists sought to drive into the heads of many
Africans the idea that without their supposedly divine intervention, our lives
would still be defined by degradation and barbarism.
Again, Frantz Fanon
says in his 'On Culture and Identity' that: "..Colonialism therefore did
not seek to be considered by the native as a gentle, loving mother who protects
her child from a hostile environment, but rather as a mother who unceasingly restrains
her fundamentally perverse offspring from managing to commit suicide and from
giving free rein to its evil instincts. The colonial mother protects her child
from itself, from its ego, and from its physiology, its biology, and its own unhappiness
which is its very essence."
In other words, the colonial mother sought
to discourage the African masses from rebellion against oppression and dehumanisation,
seeking to convince us that to seek our emancipation was to act against our own
Peter M. Gukina writing about the dishonesty of imperialism
says: "It was these selfish money-grabbers who self-styled themselves as
manufacturers and distributors of 'civilisation.' They fed the British press all
kinds of distorted stories about the African people in order to convince the British
people that they had a God-given duty to free, civilise and elevate Africans -
the 'lower' races.
"The worst products of British capitalism and imperialism
of the nineteenth century were those who filled their mouths with noble phrases
and expressions to give an appearance of a sincere, profound desire to establish
good government, promote Christianity and eradicate slavery. They, at the same
time, projected the African people, their traditions and institutions as the most
primitive, most savage and most cruel and that this justifies their domination
in order to extend civilisation to the Dark Continent." (PP17-18, Uganda,
A case study in African Political Development.)
In response to this millennium-old
racist attitude we need to prioritise the matter of reclaiming our past. We have
a duty to engage all sectors of society, especially the intelligentsia and the
youth to be at the forefront of this battle of taking back our history, our culture
Fanon says that:
"The native intellectual who
takes up arms to defend his nation's legitimacy and who wants to bring proofs
to bear out that legitimacy, who is willing to strip himself naked to study the
history of his body, is obliged to dissect the heart of his people. "Such
an examination is not specifically national. The native intellectual who decides
to give battle to colonial lies fights on the field of the whole continent. The
past is given back its value.
Culture, extracted from the past to be displayed
in all its splendour, is not necessarily that of his own country.
which has not bothered to put too fine a point on its efforts, has never ceased
to maintain that the Negro is a savage; and for the colonist, the Negro was neither
an Angolan nor a Nigerian, for he simply spoke of 'the Negro'. For colonialism,
this vast continent was the haunt of savages, a country riddled with superstitions
and fanaticism, destined for contempt, weighted down by the curse of God, a country
of cannibals - in short, the Negro's country." (P238, African Intellectual
Heritage, Molefi K. Asante and Abu S. Abarry, Temple University Press, 1996) Clearly,
a lot of work has been done to reclaim the history of our continent. Today, few
will contest the irrefutable fact that Africa is a cradle of humanity.
wisation of Egypt was a civilisation of the black people who imparted their superior
knowledge to the Greeks, who in turn laid the basis for modern western civilisation.
longer can anyone sustain an absurd assertion made famous by the German philosopher,
Hegel, in his 'Philosophy of History' that "Africa is not a historical continent;
it shows neither change nor development and that the black peoples were capable
of neither development nor education. As we see them today, so have they always
been." (P12, General History of Africa, Unesco, 1981 and 1990)
of us, as political leaders, as workers, as businesspeople,
youth, women and
the intelligentsia have a duty to fight against
poverty and underdevelopment
as well as ensure that as Africans we
define ourselves, not in the image of
our former colonisers but in
the spirit of our African ancestors, who bequeathed
so much to the
human race. I am certain that through our determined and collective
struggles, we shall overcome.
Once more, I thank you most sincerely for
the privilege you have
accorded us to address you, the elected representatives
sister people of Uganda.
Issued by The Presidency
on 13 December 2005.