Kenya Today has republished the full President Uhuru Kenyatta’s speech at the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Heads of States and Governments of the African Union in Addis Ababa which opened today:
By Uhuru Kenyatta
Your Excellency Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Chair of the Union, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the commission of the African Union,
Excellencies, Heads of State and Government here assembled,
It is a pleasure to join so many distinguished leaders at this summit. When I last stood before you, to join in celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of this Union’s foundation, I recalled that ours was a story of rebirth and renewal. Our Union was born in a time of great adversity, and our elders and betters faced trials we can now only dimly understand.
In the face of a cruel and apparently immovable colonial order, their ambition and courage did not fail them: they committed themselves to the total liberation of this continent. We have recently had occasion to celebrate the life, and regret the leaving, of one of these mighty elders, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Excellencies, our elders and liberators fought and won that great war. We, their heirs, have not always lived up to their standards. Too often, we have chosen discord over peace; too often we have chosen greed over the common good; too often, we have chosen the wishes of outsiders over the needs of those entrusted to our care.
But it would be futile to deny that change is in the air. In recent years, a democratic spirit has swept the continent. Africans have found new voices they are talking back to their leaders. We might not always like what we hear, but that is democracy. Africans have rediscovered their confidence. Where once we deferred to outsiders, now there is a calmÂ self-assurance. Outsiders might not always enjoy the encounter, but that is sovereignty.
Africans are reviving the promise of prosperity in regional and continental cooperation; the bonds of solidarity that sustained our forebears in the darkest of times still bind. We now call on those bonds of solidarity to defend their legacy. In the last few months, particularly in the Central Africa Republic and South Sudan we have been reminded Â of the terror, destruction and fear that civil conflict brings.
These conflicts, so near to us, remind us that we must join hands with our neighbours to prevent them breaking, and respond to them when they do break, as occasionally they will.
With our partners in East Africa, we are building a Rapid Deployment Capability within the framework of the East Africa Standby Force; my government has already stood a fully-fledged Rapid Deployment Capability that will be activated in emergencies. t is not enough: the full value of this capacity will be realised only when all our states stand equivalent capabilities, and can meet any threat to our nations, regions and the continent quickly, firmly and judiciously. That is why I am glad to receive and endorse the call made in the Declaration by the Ministers of Defence, that all of us ought to meet our obligations to ensure that the African Standby Force is ready for deployment By 2015.
Our partners and friends have been of great help to us, but to rely on outside help for our security would be to sully our independence. In any case, the help is often inadequate to our needs, and its application inflexible. So, recalling with you Â Article 21(1) of the AU protocol on Peace and Security, and as part of Kenya’s 50th anniversary, as well as an expression of solidarity with our continent’s determination to secure its future, I today announce a voluntary contribution of one million dollars to the AU Peace Fund.
Our contribution may be used towards the actualization of Exercise Amani Africa. It may be put towards the realization of the African Standby Force by 2015.
Whichever way it is used, we have made concrete our commitment to solidarity and peace in this time of conflict.
It is hard to see how anything could be as vital to our liberty from foreign domination as self-reliance in food. Here too, we must admit that we have fallen below the standards of the past, and are only now beginning to recover.
Hunger, and the violence and strife which follow it, have torn apart lands and lives across the continent.Â Hundreds of millions of our people remain uncertain of their next meal. Climate change, in all its uncertainties, looms. The leadership represented at this Union, I am glad to say, is willing and able to match the ambition of our liberators.
A decade ago it adopted a comprehensive program for African agriculture, with the aim of ending hunger on the continent by 2015 – Â if the goal is ambitious, the problem is large. Two years ago, it determined that 2014 Was the year of African Agriculture and Food Security.
This year, at this Summit, we take stock and chart the path ahead. The work of the last decade has not been vain. Growth in agriculture, I gather, has averaged nearly 10 percent since the adoption of the program in 2004, far better than it has been in the past.
More than thirty of us have committed to spending 10 percent of their GDP on our agricultural sectors. Innovation in science and technology has leapt high obstacles; the prudent use of tissue culture has doubled banana yields, and tripled the yield per hectare in Kenya. Research partly funded by the African Development Bank: and may I thank my friend Dr. Donald Kaberuka – The Bank President for this – – has brought hardier, more nutritious strains of rice to African tables.
No one can deny our progress. No one can deny that much remains to be done. The broad shape of the road ahead is clear. We have provenÂ adept users of markets, information and new technologies. Let us put them to use in delivering ourselves from hunger.
Our challenges are momentous. We would not be human if we did not occasionally doubt that we could meet them. In these moments of doubt, we should return to the matter of legacy. Our elders defied and defeated greater foes, a truth to which the life of Nelson Mandela bears eloquent witness. This union, fifty years old, is a living reminder of their triumph. Let the memory of their deeds inspire ours.
I thank you all.
Uhuru Kenyatta is the President of the Republic of Kenya and Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces.