November 7-9, 2013
Theme: “Moral and Innovative Leadership: Building Sustainable Peace for a Prosperous Future”
Your Excellency, Your first lady, Mr. Chairman, Global Peace Foundation, His Eminence, The Cardinal, Excellency, Very distinguished guests, Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen:
In 1957, I left my country of the Seychelles, in order to study law in the United Kingdom. It is that year, that in Kwame Nkrumah took the neighboring state of Ghana, then, the Gold Coast, to independence.
And in the corridors of the law schools, I started to befriend people from West Africa. I made a lot of friends: with Ghanaians, and Nigerians, way in the majority. Those days question of the independence of Africa, was a subject matter of most conversation.
And if my recollection is correct, it is in 1960, that Nigeria became independent under the leadership of Sir Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and there was the General Governorship of Mr. Azikiwe. I may be wrong but I think I am correct.
My friends, since that time, I have taken a great interest in what’s happening in the greatest, largest most important nation on the continent of Africa.
The first time I tasted your plantains, and this tasty food, which we have tonight, was when I joined my Nigerian friends to celebrate the independence celebration of Nigeria.
Well, many waters have gone under the bridge of Nigeria since those early days of nationalhood. As a matter of fact, when in 1976, my own country became an independent nation under my presidency.
The Nigerian government set a very impressive delegation to our celebration. The leader of the delegation is now no more with us—was a commander General Jo Ogaba. At that time he was residing executive of the offices training academy in Kadona.
Now Mr. Ogaba, I think eventually ended up as a Nigerian representative at the United Nations. Unfortunately, he is no more with us. But this special collection, I did me, to follow, what’s been happening in Nigeria.
And suddenly, the whole world was shocked, at the beginning of this terrible Biafra war, the war of Biafra. And we today, must remember the amount of people, on both sides of the divide, who lost their lives. But if there’s one thing where Nigeria has excelled, is after this war, the federal leadership went and gave to the world, a great example of national reconciliation.
There was forgiveness.
Now that we speak about national reconciliation, at such an effective and active level, let us not forget, that already, so many years ago, Nigeria decided that it was most important, in interest of national unity, and the promotion of a strong Nigeria, was to look at this situation, realistically, and to take national reconciliation, most seriously.
I salute this example, which Nigerians set. For this reason, I believe it is very, very appropriate, that this meeting, this important meeting, under the initiative, of the Global Peace Foundation, led by Dr. Moon, that this meeting is taking place today, here in Abuja, capitol of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this message, “One Family Under God” is a prominent message, an important message, not only for Nigeria not only for Africa, but for all other nations in the world today.
So let us take it seriously, and let us say how happy most of us must be, to see all these important faith leaders together, gathered under this roof—having realized, that sometimes it is important to put aside the teaching of dogma, theology, and to seek understanding and friendship, under the banner, of “One Family Under God” and the need to pursue the agenda for peace, very, very seriously.
We must give our brain a wracking to find where we are lacking, to bring about harmony, to be able to realize that we are all members of the same human family.
And if you look at it, we will always find out, that our areas of argument are always far wider, than our areas of disagreement.