H.I.M. Haile Selassie OAU speech 1963 African Summit
"We welcome to Ethiopia, in Our name and in the name of the
Ethiopian Government and people, the Heads of State and Government of independent
African nations who are today assembled in solemn conclave in Ethiopia's capital
city. This conference, without parallel in history, is an impressive testimonial
to the devotion and dedication of which we all partake in the cause of our mother
continent and that of her sons and daughters. This is indeed a momentous and
historic day for Africa and for all Africans.
We stand today on the stage of world affairs, before the audience
of world opinion. We have come together to assert our role in the direction
of world affairs and to discharge our duty to the great continent whose two
hundred fifty million people we lead. Africa is today at mid- course, in transition
from the Africa of yesterday to the Africa of tomorrow. Even as we stand here
we move from the past into the future. The task on which we have embarked, the
making of Africa, will not wait. We must act, to shape and mould the future
and leave our imprint on events as they pass into history.
We seek, at this meeting, to determine whither we are going
and to chart the course of our destiny. It is no less important that we know
whence we came. An awareness of our past is essential to the establishment of
our personality and our identity as Africans. This world was not created piecemeal.
Africa was born no later and no earlier than any other geographical area on
this globe. Africans, no more and no less than other men, possess all human
attributes, talents and deficiencies, virtues and faults. Thousands of years
ago, civilizations flourished in Africa which suffer not at all by comparison
with those of other continents. In those centuries, Africans were politically
free and economically independent. Their social patterns were their own and
their cultures truly indigenous. The obscurity which enshrouds the centuries
which elapsed between those earliest days and the rediscovery of Africa are
being gradually dispersed. What is certain is that during those long years Africans
were born, lived and died. Men on other parts of this Earth occupied themselves
with their own concerns and, in their conceit, proclaimed that the world began
and ended at their horizons. All unknown to them, Africa developed in its own
pattern, growing in its own life and, in the nineteenth century, finally re-emerged
into the world's consciousness.
The events of the past hundred and fifty years require no
extended recitation from Us. The period of colonialism into which we were plunged
culminated with our continent fettered and bound, with our once proud and free
peoples reduced to humiliation and slavery; with Africa's terrain cross-batched
and checkerboarded by artificial and arbitrary boundaries. Many of us, during
those bitter years, were overwhelmed in battle, and those who escaped conquest
did so at the cost of desperate resistance and bloodshed. Others were sold into
bondage as the price extracted by the colonialists for the "protection" which
they extended and the possession of which they disposed. Africa was a physical
resource to be exploited and Africans were chattels to be purchased bodily or,
at best, peoples to be reduced to vassalage and lackeyhood. Africa was the market
for the produce of other nations and the source of the raw materials with which
their factories were fed.
Today, Africa has emerged from this dark passage. Our armageddon
is past. Africa has been reborn as a free continent and Africans have been reborn
as free men. The blood that was shed and the sufferings that were endured are
today Africa's advocates for freedom and unity. Those men who refused to accept
the judgement passed upon them by the colonies, who held unswervingly through
the darkest hours to a vision of an Africa emancipated from political, economic
and spiritual domination, will be remembered and revered wherever Africans meet.
Many of them never set foot on this continent. Others were born and died here.
What we may utter today can add little to the heroic struggle of those who,
by their example, have shown us how precious are freedom and human dignity and
of how little value is life without them. Their deeds are written in history."
H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I