John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to President Nyerere of Tanganyika

July 15, 1963

Mr. President:

It is a great pleasure and honor to welcome you, your Minister for External Affairs, and other members of your government here to Washington and especially to welcome you back once again. I think it is most appropriate that this ceremony should be held between the White House on the one side and, on the other, between the Washington Monument and the memorial to Thomas Jefferson, because, in a very real sense, our guest of honor today, the President of Tanganyika, has played a role comparable to those distinguished Americans in the founding of his country.

President Nyerere led the fight, led the way, led the path to independence for his own country and he has recognized, as our early Founding Fathers recognized, that that was only part of the struggle and in some ways the easiest part. It is more difficult to build a cohesive society once independence has been founded, and it is for that, Mr. President, and for your efforts in this regard that you are most admired in this country.

This is the great test of the statesman, to build, once independence has been achieved. Your efforts to build a cohesive, open society, a free society, based on liberal principles, and also to build this society and this country as part of a larger organization of East Africa, has won the respect and admiration of the Government and the people of the United States. You are engaged in a great work, Mr. President, and we feel that it is most opportune that you should visit the United States in the summer of 1963 when so much is changing in your own country and in Africa. And where so much is changing here.

Progress, we hope, will mark the year 1963 in every field, internationally, nationally, in this continent, in this hemisphere, in your continent, in your hemisphere and throughout the world. And it is, therefore, a most happy occasion for all of us to welcome a distinguished leader of Africa, a distinguished leader of his own country, a distinguished leader for peace and justice throughout the world, the President of Tanganyika, President Nyerere.

Note: The President spoke at 11:30 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where President Julius K. Nyerere was given a formal welcome with full military honors.

In his response President Nyerere stated that he had always associated the United States with freedom. "During those days when we were struggling for our freedom and having chosen the methods of peace to achieve our freedom," he said, "I used to come almost annually to the United Nations organization to plead the cause of the freedom of my country. Every time I think of the United States, I think also of the freedom of my people. As you said, Mr. President, one part of our struggle is over and that is the struggle to win independence from colonial rule, but that is merely the beginning.

"Our community, like your community," he continued, "consists of a large number of people, some native and others immigrants. And it is part of our struggle ahead to see that all our people, whether they be native or they be immigrants, are equal citizens of our society. It is also part of our struggle to see that the amenities of life in the 20th century reach our people .... We are very, very far from achieving the goal of raising those standards of living, without which the struggle for independence is not enough. But we are determined to carry on the struggle and I am sure that with friends in the world, in all parts of the world, we are certain to win that struggle, too."

In his opening remarks President Kennedy referred to Tanganyika's Minister for External Affairs, Oscar Kambona, and to President Nyerere's 1961 visit to Washington.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Welcome at the White House to President Nyerere of Tanganyika Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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