- Monday, February 4, 2019

The following is excerpted from remarks to the First Africa Summit for Peace, Security and Sustainable Development in Dakar, Senegal, on Jan. 18, 2018.

Thank you very much, excellencies … diplomats, ambassadors, religious and traditional leaders, friends and participants. By choosing Senegal to host its first summit in Africa, the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) conveys its inclusive vision of a better world, a vision through peaceful dialogue and coexistence of people with respect for their diversity.

Senegal shares this humanistic vision. We are thus happy to welcome you and we thank you for being so many gathered here…. I greet the memory of Dr. Sun Myung Moon, founding father of UPF, and pay tribute to his widow, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, who continues with faith and perseverance in the service of universal peace. I would like to thank her for this trip to Africa but especially to thank her for this message of hope, which she has just delivered for the African continent.

Africa, the cradle of humanity, has been bruised by so many centuries of conflict, wars, and plagues…. More than a wishful thinking, peace must be a choice of life because the state of peace is certainly more compatible with the human condition than the state of war…. Rev. Martin Luther King said, “the greatest tragedy is not the strident clamor of the bad people but the appalling silence of the good people.” Nothing, indeed, is more damaging to peace than silence, passivity, ignorance and resignation…

What unites us first of all is our humanity, beyond any form of religious, philosophical, cultural, ideological or other identification. …. Senegal, which welcomes you, is a country where 95 percent of Muslims live in perfect harmony with our Christian compatriots and traditional religions. Here in Senegal, among people living under one roof, some will get up to go to the mosque and others to the church. This explains why Lopold Sedar Senghor, a Christian, the first president of the Republic of Senegal, was able to be in power in Senegal for two decades with the majority of his fellow citizens supporting regardless of ethnic or religious considerations.

This harmony that we share, undoubtedly, with each of you, is being undermined today, not only by the war, but also by the turpitudes of fanaticism, ignorance and arrogance. Yet, in a remarkable continuity, the divine message, which is the source of the three revealed religions encompassing billions of individuals throughout the world, exalts the sacredness of human life. According to the Talmud, Sanhedrin 5, Mishna 5, “Whoever saves a life saves the entire universe.” In Proverbs, Chapter 24:11, the Bible says, “Rescue those being led away to death,” and the Qur’an says in Surah 5, Verse 32, “that anyone who would kill a person not guilty of murder or corruption on the earth is as if he had killed all men. And whoever gives him life is like giving life to all men.”…

There is more in common than you think — the bridge between Islam and Christianity. We could multiply the examples, and this means that the theory of the clash of civilizations, or ideas about the wars of religions, have no theological foundation, neither in texts nor in practice: We are all equal and at peace if we accept this foundation of equal dignity. On the other hand, what generates misunderstanding and antagonism, even violence, is rather the abusive interpretation of the divine word for purposes other than the true purpose…. That is why Africa, a continent that has suffered a trauma of five centuries of slavery and colonization, must stand firm against any racist and xenophobic claims — because all cultures and civilizations are simply of equal dignity.

In this spirit, I am delighted that the theme of this first African summit of the Universal Peace Federation highlights the emergence of a new Africa in the light of interdependence, inclusive prosperity and universal values. I believe in this new Africa. I believe in an Africa capable of taking care of itself, an Africa that thinks and acts by and for itself. Despite the burden of history and asymmetric relations, Africa is, overall, a stable, laborious and ingenious continent…. It must assert itself and be accepted as a stakeholder among the actors who define the dynamics of the present and the future. That is why Africa rightly claims the reform of global governance through the reform of the U.N. Security Council, among others…. We cannot continue to rule the world of 2018 with the rules of 1945.

On the economic front, it is established that Africa has invaluable wealth, and according to a study by the African Development Bank… the continent has 12 percent of global oil reserves, 40 percent of gold reserves, 85 percent of the chromium and platinum group metals reserves, 85 percent of phosphate reserves and over 50 percent of cobalt reserves as well as one third of bauxite, not counting the water and land reserves of a continent of 30 million square kilometers, home to 60 percent of arable land not yet exploited. Africa is not poor; it is rather penalized by the rules of unequal exchange. For this reason, Africa is calling for a more inclusive global economic and financial governance, a more sustained fight against illegal financial flows and a just compensation for its raw materials, especially in the mining and oil fields.

Of course, Africa needs to fight corruption as well. It requires fairer and more equitable contracts that protect both the interests of investors and those of the host country with qualified human resources and a well-educated youth aware of the realities of their time. Then Africa will take up the challenge of emergence.

I am pleased to announce that on Feb. 2, 2018, Senegal will host the third funding conference of the Global Partnership for Education. This international meeting, co-sponsored by Senegal and France, will see the participation of President Emmanuel Macron from France and other eminent figures such as the secretary-general of the United Nations, president of the World Bank and heads of state. We will mobilize $3.1 billion to support the schooling of millions of children around the world and to reduce ignorance and obscurantism.

Finally, the ideal of peace that brings us together here requires more than the absence of war. In this sense, His Holiness Pope Paul VI was right to state in Populorum Progressio, the first great encyclical entirely devoted to the development of peoples in 1967, that development is the new name of peace. I believe that our meeting this morning helps to amplify this message of peace through development, and I thank again Dr. Moon, as well as all the prominent members of UPF.

Senegal President, His Excellency Macky Sall, who opened the First Africa Summit in Dakar, received the UPF Leadership Good Governance Award, which recognizes excellence in leadership based on the core values of service to God and humanity and promoting harmony and cooperation beyond barriers of race, religion, nationality and culture. The award comes with a $100,000 gift, which President Sall said would be donated to two organizations that serve children with disabilities, SOS Children’s Villages and Centre Talibou Dabo of Grand Yoff.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide