Kampala, (UG): President Yoweri Museveni on Friday, January 19, addressed heads of state, government officials and delegates at the ongoing 19th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) at Speke Resort Resort Munyonyo.
Below is the President’s full speech as it was read to the guests
Excellency Ilham Heydar Oghlu Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and current Chair of the 18th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, Excellencies, the Heads of State and Government and the Heads of Delegations of the Non-Aligned Movement, Excellency Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Excellency, Denis Francis, President of the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly, Her Excellency the Vice President of Uganda and all the other Government and Party Leaders of Uganda,
Fellow Ugandans, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome Your Excellencies, the Heads of States and Governments and the Heads of Delegations of the NAM Countries. This grouping of countries, accounts for 4.46billions of people of the World. It was started by our far-sighted elders in the persons of H.E. Sukarno, of Indonesia, H.E. Nehru of India, H.E. Nasser of Egypt and H.E. Chou En Lai of China, when they met in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955.
The first Summit of NAM took place in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1961 and was attended by: Afghanistan, Algeria, Burma, Cambodia, Ceylon, Congo, Cuba, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Republic, Yemen and Yugoslavia.
The emergence of the NAM, was a necessary antidote to the irrational polarization of the World of that time between the Capitalist Western countries and the Communist, mainly Eastern countries. By the early 1960s, our student group was already beginning to be active. We were the 3rd generation of the African anti- colonial fighters. The first generation, had been the African-American Pan-Africanists Marcus Garvey, Padamore, WB Dubois, that had been joined by those who founded the ANC of South Africa in 1912.
By 1900, the whole of Africa, except for Ethiopia, had been colonized. This direct colonization of the whole of the African continent, was the culmination of 400 years of the plunder of Africa by the evil imperialist forces in the form of slave trade and the genocidal wars that went with it. The newly discovered Americas, Asia, China and the Pacific (Australia, New- Zealand, etc.), had been similarly aggressed, colonized, semi-colonized like in the case of China and plundered.
Africa’s capitulation, had been, in part, on account of our ego-centric chiefs and kings, who, out of selfishness, could not unite us to fight these evil people. The second generation of the African freedom fighters, were people like Mzee Kenyatta, Mwalimu Nyerere, Nelson Mandela, etc., that emerged in the 1940s.
When we, therefore, came on the scene in the 1960s, we were generation three of the anti-colonial fighters. We seriously studied the inter-play of forces that had, ultimately, led Africa into such a calamity. In those studies, we used the instrument of political economy which is a study that helps us to discover the fundamental laws that govern the motion of society, from one social system, to another.
In that study, we discovered that Man, the homo sapien sapien, who emerged here in Africa 4½ million years ago, had been the main actor. Initially, this wise Man (that is what homo sapien sapien means), was coping with the oppression of Man by nature, in the form of the floods, the droughts, the diseases, the wild animals, the earth-quakes, etc. These natural phenomena, were, of course, oppressing other creatures ─ wild animals, plants, etc. However, those other creatures, could do little or nothing, to tame nature.
The only thing they could do, was to adapt themselves to nature in order to survive. That is how the beaver in the cold climates, hibernates during the winters, so as to survive. It is only Man, that has the ability to try and tame the natural phenomena and harness them, to improve his quality of life. Why does Man have this capacity? It is because of the three characteristics of Man.
These are: a superior brain that is able to reason and not only act by instinct; a hand that can make and use tools to do work; and bipedalism (ability to walk on two legs, with the head up, instead of the head being down like a reptile, trying to navigate among ground based obstacles ─ that enables Man to see far and think). These characteristics, enabled Man to invent tools ─ stone tools, wooden tools, iron-tools, until today, when he is able to make tractors and machine tools, etc. These tools, enabled Man to make scientific inventions that precipitated qualitative and quantitative changes in society. The invention of fire, one and a half million years ago, caused society to move from dwelling in trees to dwelling in caves and on the ground generally.
Caves were more comfortable than trees. The invention of the domestication of crops around 10,000 years ago, the domestication of livestock around 12,000 years ago, the invention of iron around 1500BC, the steam engine, the printing Press, electricity, the railway, the auto-mobiles, the aircraft, automation, vaccines, the invention of penicillin, the invention of quinine, etc., ─ enabled Man to cope better and enabled him to harness natural phenomena and items, for the betterment of his life. Our study of political economy of creation and society, therefore, enabled us to discover that the basic primer of changes in society, is the development of science and technology.
Therefore, societies that move forward their levels of science and technology, lay a basis for positive social change and should be encouraged by the progressive forces in the World; this encouragement, should be irrespective of the social systems of the concerned societies.
However, when Man’s inventiveness was handling the oppression of Man by nature, another form of oppression of Man emerged. This was the oppression of Man by fellow Men. Karl Marx, is one of the few analysts that seems to have tackled this new problem for Man, accurately. He pointed out, that it was only during the time of primitive communalism when Man was still living in hunter-gatherer societies, that society was free of oppression of Man by fellow Men.
Thereafter, all subsequent social–systems, had elements of oppression by fellow Men of varying degrees. This was in the form of wars of conquest, wars of aggression, slavery, imperialism, neo-colonialism, colonialism, feudalism, primitive capitalist accumulation, chauvinism, etc.
These elements of exploitation, are totally unnecessary and only propelled by greed. Was it necessary for the Ottomans to block the Europeans from using the silk road that had been pioneered by Marco Polo, when they captured Constantinople in 1453? When the Europeans were thus blocked, they started looking for a Sea route around Africa, led by the Portuguese ─ Prince Henry the Navigator. This was a legitimate and positive response forced on the Europeans by the unreasonable actions of the Ottomans. As a consequence of that effort, Christopher Columbus reached the Americas in 1492 and Vasco Da Gama went around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa in 1498. By this time, the positive efforts of the Europeans looking for a Sea route around Africa, had already started being polluted by the evil of slave taking by the Portuguese. It is said that the first slaves were captured by the Portuguese, in the year 1441. The two great achievements of discovering the Americas and going around Africa by Sea, soon proved harbingers of great evil to Africa, the Americas and Asia.
As bullies, the Europeans used their progress in the technology of ship-building and the use of gun- powder, to conquer Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. European looting of the rest of humanity through slavery, imperialism, colonialism, semi- colonialism, conquest and extermination of the indigenous people in some cases, went on for 500 years.
Instead of humanity celebrating the scientific advances in ship-building, the wider use of gun- powder which had been discovered by the Chinese around 800BC, the wider use of quinine against malaria that the Spanish had learnt from the indigenous Indians of the Americas, the printing Press, the steam engine and all the other inventions, we had to spend the 500 years in anti-colonials wars to expel the evil parasites. In the case of Africa, it is only in 1994, that the indigenous people of South Africa, regained control of their country.
The oppressors, miscalculate when they use their temporary advantage in science and technology to think that they can use that to indefinitely oppress other people. The oppressed, will learn, catch up and defeat the oppressor. That is why Empires always, all collapse. The idea of Empires, is an evil idea.
We should only have free associations of nations ─ people of a common or shared origin, interacting for mutual advantage with the peoples of the World. Therefore, we the resistance fighters of Uganda, are flabbergasted and look down with contempt, at the philosophical, ideological and strategic shallowness of some of the actors in the World. Why not respect the freedom of everybody, if you say you are a democrat?
Why do you not seek to influence people by your good example, instead of manipulation, lectures and threats? Chauvinists of race, religion, tribe or gender, should stop wasting our time and opportunities, with their shallow schemes. Action will, inevitably, invite counter-action. Oppression will invite resistance.
That is why we the resistance fighters of Uganda, only fight just wars. We abhor, unjust wars. The promoters of unjust wars, lose, most of the time. These are wars of imperialism, conquest, domination, etc. In the 500 years of European aggression against Africa, it was only from 1912, when the ANC was founded in South Africa, that modern freedom fighters came forward to lead the African resistance, the traditional, illiterate African Chiefs, having failed to defend our sovereignty except for Menelik of Ethiopia who defeated the Italian aggressors in 1896. It took the modern African resistance fighters only 82 years to clear the whole of Africa of these invaders, with South Africa being the last to get freedom in 1994. In that 82 years, you had the Mau Mau in Kenya, the resistance wars in Algeria, Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, etc. We won everywhere, but after losing alot of time. Why had the imperialists thought of dominating us, in the first place?
Therefore, the Non-Aligned Movement, was correct. The illogical polarization of the 1940s, 1950s, 60s and 70s, between the Capitalists and Communists, was wrong. Why should new ideas cause tension? This was the mistake of people like Metternich of Austria – Hungary, who thought that the new ideas of capitalism that were challenging the feudal order of Europe, could be blocked by war. The Austria-Hungarian Empire, ended up disappearing from the face of the earth and capitalism did not stop spreading.
Our stand is that the World should concentrate on the common human problems ─ prosperity through trade, the advance of science and technology to deal with human problems, the environment, crime and terrorism. The future is bright if we act right. These are, indeed, the Bandung principles of:
- Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations;
- Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations;
- Recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations, large and small;
- Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country;
- Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself singly or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations;
- Abstention from the use of arrangements of collective defense to serve the particular interests of any of the big powers, abstention by any country from exerting pressures on other countries;
- Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country;
- Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, such as negotiation, conciliation, arbitration or judicial settlement as well as other peaceful means of the parties’ own choice, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations;
- Promotion of mutual interests and cooperation;
- and Respect for justice and international obligation.
It is on these principles that NAM was founded. We, the resistance fighters of Uganda, can testify that by synthesizing the package of ideas, have got very good results. Using the ideas of the free market, combined with the ideas of selective State intervention in the economy in some sectors like banking, energy, transport, etc. and also bringing back some aspects of the pre-capitalist institutions such as reformed cultural institutions, Uganda, although starting from a very low base, has had growth rates of 6.2% per year, for the last 37 years.
We are, therefore, not impressed and cannot be part of the morbid bigotry of uni-ideological thinking of this or that type. The universe has been here for the last 30billion years and the human society has been here for the last 4½million years.
You, therefore, should not have the audacity to impose on the society you live in, let alone the World, your narrow uni-ideological orientation.
In conclusion, the strength of NAM should be used to exercise considerable influence particularly at the UN for the effective transformative process for a better common future. In the negotiations for the Pact of the Future, the outcome document of the upcoming United Nations Summit of the Future to be held in New York in September, 2024, we should clearly define priorities that favour developing countries by maintaining unity, solidarity and collective coordination among our Member States, in line with the Bandung principles. I assure you all that my team, led by the Permanent Representative in New York has my full support to chair the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement.
I thank you and I welcome you all to Uganda.
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA
19th January, 2024
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