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Remarks by the President to the People of Ghana

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Trip to Africa

Office of the Press Secretary
(Accra, Ghana)

For Immediate ReleaseMarch 23, 1998


11:40 AM (L)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. President and Mrs. Rawlings, honorableministers, honorable members of the Council of State, honorable members ofParliament, honorable members of the Judiciary, nananom and the people ofGhana. Mitsea mu. America fuo kyia mo. Now you have shown me whatakwaaba really means. Thank you, thank you so much.

I am proud to be the first American President ever to visit Ghana.And to go on to Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Botswana, and Senegal. It isa journey long overdue. America should have done it before, and I am proudto be on that journey. Thank you for welcoming me.

I want to listen and to learn. I want to build a future partnershipbetween our two people, and I want to introduce the people of the UnitedStates through my trip to the new face of Africa. From Kampala to CapeTown, from Dakar to Dar-Es-Salaam, Africans are being stirred by new hopesfor democracy and peace and prosperity.

Challenges remain, but they must be to all of you a call to action,not a cause for despair. You must draw strength from the past and energyfrom the promise of a new future. My dream for this trip is that togetherwe might do the things so that 100 years from now, your grandchildren andmine will look back and say this was the beginning of a new Africanrenaissance.

With a new century coming into view, old patterns are fading away.The Cold War is gone; colonialism is gone; apartheid is gone. Remnants ofpast troubles remain, but, surely, there will come a time when everywherereconciliation will replace recrimination.

Now, nations and individuals finally are free to seek a newer worldwhere democracy and peace and prosperity are not slogans, but the essenceof a new Africa. Africa has changed so much in just 10 years.Dictatorship has been replaced so many places. Half of the 48 nations insub-Saharan Africa choose their own governments leading a new generationwilling to learn from the past and imagine a future. Though democracy hasnot yet gained a permanent foothold even in most successful nations, thereis everywhere a growing respect for tolerance, diversity and elementalhuman rights.

A decade ago, business was stifled. Now Africans are embracingeconomic reform. Today from Ghana to Mozambique, from Cote d'Ivoire toUganda, growing economies are fueling a transformation in Africa. For allthis promise, you and I know Africa is not free from peril -- the genocidein Rwanda; civil wars in Sierra Leone, Liberia, both Congos; pariah statesthat export violence and terror; military dictatorship in Nigeria; and highlevels of poverty, malnutrition, disease, illiteracy, and unemployment. Tofulfill the vast promise of a new era, Africa must face these challenges.We must build classrooms and companies, increase the food supply and savethe environment, and prevent disease before deadly epidemics break out.

The United States is ready to help you. First, my fellow Americansmust leave behind the stereotypes that have warped our view and weakenedour understanding of Africa. We need to come to know Africa as a place ofnew beginning and ancient wisdom from which, as my wife, our First Lady,said in her book, we have so much to learn. It is time for Americans toput a new Africa on our map.

Here in Independence Square, Ghana blazed the path of that new Africa.More than four decades ago, Kwame Nkrumah proposed what he called a "motionof destiny" as Ghana stepped forward as a free and independent nation.Today Ghana again lights the way for Africa. Democracy is spreading.Business is growing. Trade and investment are rising. Ghana has the onlyAfrican-owned company today on our New York Stock Exchange.

You have worked hard to preserve the peace in Africa and around theworld -- from Liberia to Lebanon, from Croatia to Cambodia. And you havegiven the world a statesman and peacemaker in Kofi Annan to lead the UnitedNations. The world admires our success. The United States admires yoursuccess. We see it taking root throughout the new Africa. And we standready to support it.

First, we want to work with Africa to nurture democracy, knowing it isnever perfect or complete. We have learned in over 200 years that everyday democracy must be defended, and a more perfect union can always lieahead. Democracy requires more than the insults and injustice andinequality that so many societies have known and America has known.Democracy requires human rights for everyone, everywhere. For men andwomen, for children and the elderly, for people of different cultures andtribes and backgrounds. A good society honors its entire family.

Second, democracy must have prosperity. Americans of both politicalparties want to increase trade and investment in Africa. We have anAfrican Growth and Opportunity Act now before Congress. Both parties?leadership are supporting it. By opening markets and building businessesand creating jobs, we can help and strengthen each other. By supportingthe education of your people, we can strengthen your future and help eachother.

For centuries, other nations exploited Africa's gold, Africa'sdiamonds, Africa's minerals. Now is the time for Africans to cultivatesomething more precious: the mind and heart of the people of Africa througheducation.

Third, we must allow democracy and prosperity to take root withoutviolence. We must work to resolve the war and genocide that still tear atthe heart of Africa. We must help Africans to prevent future conflicts.

Here in Ghana you have shown the world that different peoples can livetogether in harmony. You have proved that Africans of different countriescan unite to help solve disputes in neighboring countries. Peaceeverywhere in Africa will give more free time and more money to thepressing needs of our children's future. The killing must stop if a newfuture is to begin.

Fourth and finally, for peace and prosperity and democracy to prevail,you must protect your magnificent natural domain. Africa is mankind'sfirst home. We all came out of Africa. We must preserve the magnificentnatural environment that is left. We must manage the water and forest. Wemust learn to live in harmony with other species. You must learn how tofight drought and famine and global warming. And we must share with youthe technology that will enable you to preserve your environment andprovide more economic opportunity to your people.

America has good reason to work with Africa: 30 million Americans,more than one in ten, proudly trace their heritage here. The first PeaceCorps volunteers from America came to Ghana over 35 years ago; over 57,000have served in Africa since then. Through blood ties and common endeavors,we know we share the same hopes and dreams to provide for ourselves and ourchildren, to live in peace and worship freely, to build a better life thanour parents knew, and pass a brighter future on to our children. Americaneeds Africa, America needs Ghana as a partner in the fight for a betterfuture.

So many of our problems do not stop at any nation's border --international crime and terrorism and drug trafficking, the degradation ofthe environment, the spread of diseases like AIDS and malaria, and so manyof our opportunities cannot stop at a nation's border. We need partners todeepen the meaning of democracy in America, in Africa and throughout theworld. We need partners to build prosperity. We need partners to live inpeace. We will not build this new partnership overnight, but perseverancecreates its own reward.

An Ashanti proverb tells us that by coming and going, a bird buildsits nest. We will come and go with you and do all we can as you build thenew Africa, a work that must begin here in Africa, not with aid or trade,though they are important, but first with ordinary citizens, especially theyoung people in this audience today. You must feel the winds of freedomblowing at your back, pushing you onward to a brighter future.

There are roughly 700 days left until the end of this century and thebeginning of a new millennium. There are roughly 700 million Africans insub-Saharan Africa. Every day and every individual is a preciousopportunity. We do not have a moment to lose and we do not have a personto lose.

I ask you, my friends, to let me indulge a moment of our sharedhistory in closing. In 1957, our great civil rights leader, Martin LutherKing, came to Accra to help represent our country as Ghana celebrated itsindependence. He was deeply moved by the birth of your nation.

Six years later, on the day after W.E.B. DuBois died here in Ghana, in1963, Dr. King spoke to an enormous gathering like this in Washington. Hesaid these simple words: "I have a dream, a dream that all Americans mightlive free and equal as brothers and sisters." His dream became the dreamof our nation and changed us in ways we could never have imagined. We arehardly finished, but we have traveled a long way on the wings of thatdream.

Dr. DuBois, a towering African American intellectual, died here as acitizen of Ghana and a friend of Kwame Nkrumah. He once wrote, "The habitof democracy must be to encircle the Earth." Let us together resolve tocomplete the circle of democracy; to dream the dream that all people on theentire Earth will be free and equal; to begin a new century with thatcommitment to freedom and justice for all; to redeem the promise inscribedright here on Independence Arch. Let us find a future here in Africa, thecradle of humanity.

Medase, America dase. Thank you and God bless you.

11:57 AM (L)

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Africa Trip Speeches

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