WORLD CONFERENCE AGAISNT RACISM,
RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, XENOPHOBIA
AND RELATED INTOLERANCE
STATEMENT BY DR. GEORGES CHIKOTI,
ANGOLAN DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Durban, South Africa, September 02.2001.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I congratulate you chairperson for your election as president of this Conference. I am confident that your experience, dedication and personal skills will allow us to deliberate in a fair and just manner all issues related of the agenda of this Conference.
Before I proceed let me pay tribute to President Thabo Mbeki
whom at this crucial moment of his life, when his beloved father departs, has
found time not only to be among us but also to guide us with his brilliant
speech during the opening ceremony of this important Conference.
We salute his tireless efforts for the struggle for a modern South Africa from the apartheid and his commitment for the economic empowerment of Africa through a New African Initiative
By coming in this conference, my government intends to demonstrate its spirit of solidarity to a sister government, with which we struggled together for the battle against the apartheid regime which affected this region until few years ago. We shared these values because racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and all related kind of intolerance like colonialism and slave trade are among worst crimes that people of this region have faced over the past five hundred years. Angola would do the same if this kind of evils returned to this region.
The Conference should recall that Angola was colonised for more than 450 years by the Portuguese, the pioneer nation in the Trans Atlantic slave trade, and it is estimated that from 1500 to 1900 more than a 100 millions Africans were transported across the Atlantic to the Americas. Angola was to be one of the greatest suppliers until the middle of the 20t', century, it is believed that until about 1950's people were still sold secretly. When in reality slave trade was officially abolished in 1836.
I think that it is fare to refer, that Europe and particularly Britain produced some of the greatest abolitionists like William Wilberforce, men, who strongly fought against the slave trade and this led to the important intervention of the British Navy to stop the most ruthless slave trading nations and saved the lives of many former slavers.
In Angola the slave trade was replaced by the system of forced labour and a contractual system, which obliged people to work for no pay. The colonial system which succeed this period was to be one the most inhuman. The last Kingdoms who resisted were military defeated by the beginnings of the 20th century and by 1932 the dictatorship accentuated its domination over Angola and created a political police to reduce indigenous rights, Angola was later considered province of Portugal and colonial repression become one of the bloodiest Africa. All claims for independence were denied, petitions by Angolan intellectuals were sent to the United Nations that resulted in several resolutions for the auto determination of the people of Angola.
Portugal did not implement these resolutions, but instead increased repression, which was to terrorise Angolans for more than three decades resulting in the killing and deportation of many people. Under this circumstance the only option left to us was to wage our armed struggle for 14 years which ended with a military coup in Portugal and collapse of central colonial power in Portugal which allowed the independence of Angola. We can therefore not accept his tragic period of our history as a mission of civilisation.
But just before Angolans could benefit from the fruits of
independence, Angola was again invaded by troops of the apartheid regime and
several western mercenaries in an unprovoked conflict based on political and
ideological differences. This conflict was to last another 16 years with the
apartheid regime having destroyed important infrastructures particularly the
town of Ongiva in southern Angolan and killing of at least a millions
Resolutions of the Security Council were passed for the apartheid regime pay reparation up to 10 billion USD to Angola and up to this day not single penny was given nor an appology. We are however happy that apartheid is over and that our Governments will find a way to address this issue in the future.
This shows how Angolans and Africans in general have a tolerance culture, which should not be denied by the west, especially those who colonised us in the past. Despite this historic past full of tragic event, we have in Angola established a non-racial society based on equality of rights where blacks and whites live together in harmony. That's why it is regrettable to us that, at the time when the World has became more democratic, with the United Nations offering the instruments for peace and understanding among Nations and peoples, some countries, and especially the most powerful and the richest find the means either to boycotting or intimidating us, smaller nations and victims of most their acts. In these circumstances are we not allowed to think that this is an attitude of intolerance and rejection?
I think this Conference must put it very clear that Africans
and victims of racism and racial discrimination are ready to forgive but they
are also worried about the future because many of these problems have not yet
been overcome and Africans or black people are still the most discriminated
around the World.
That's why all peoples of the world should unit and establish strong bases for the future. I think that no nation or group of nations should be allowed to use its force or wealth to impose its will upon others even in a democratic environment like this one so that we can not claim our Rights. I think that intimidation can not be a proper way of looking forward. Because it fundamental that we recognise the mistakes of the past and the present and all of us have mistakes. That's why we think that it has to be very clear from this conference that slavery is a crime against humanity and reparations have to be made to the victims of this tragedy that has affected black people for so long. It is further important that measures of education and awareness against racism should be assumed by all nations under the program of action to be adopted.
A healthy racial harmony will only be effective when the African continent is no longer seen only as the source of raw materials and cheap manual labour, when mutual cooperative relations is established on basis of equality, when the system of international trade ceases to be unfavourable to developing countries, and when globalisation translates into potential benefits for all humanity and not the marginalisation of the weak.
I thank you Chairperson.