Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Toasts of the President and President Ahidjo of Cameroon

October 24, 1967

President Ahidjo, Mr. Vice President, Foreign Minister Bindzi, Mr. Justices, Secretary Katzenbach, distinguished ladies and gentlemen:

Our guest today leads a young country, alive with the hope and the promise of youth. Mr. President, we in this country share that hope with you--and we will work to help fulfill that promise.

For we share with you the knowledge of what wonders can flow from the energy, the confidence, and the restlessness of men in a young nation.

The United States and Cameroon also share the knowledge that independence is a beginning, not an end. Independence is not nationhood. It is history's invitation to great leaders to build a nation.

President Ahidjo is such a leader. He understands-as our forefathers understood-that only a united people have the determination to build, the strength to defend, and the resolution to preserve their freedom.

Cameroon became independent only 7 years ago. It was a country divided--by language, culture, tradition, and the long tribal histories which are the heritage of all Africans.

Divided within, it was also threatened by outside forces--who tried to snuff out the small flame of newly won freedom. It took a man of great courage and great vision to see these perils, to surmount them, and to dedicate his life to preventing their return.

Cameroon had such a man. In 7 short years, Mr. President, you have united your people. You have stamped out the forces of division and subversion--and have set your nation firmly on the hard but rewarding road to prosperity.

From tribalism you have built patriotism. From poverty you have built hope. From peril you have built security.

These are your victories, sir, but they do point the way and hold the promise of the New Africa. They predict that the 20th century in Africa will not be recorded in terms of battles or speeches or foreign adventures. History will instead mark the men who, like Thomas Jefferson and President Ahidjo, led their people to the truth--that there is no freedom without unity, and no unity without sacrifice.

It is such men who today give Africa a new role and a new influence in the world. It is they we welcome as partners and friends in a common and exciting purpose.

Yesterday, Mr. President, I described that purpose for quite a different audience. But your presence here today leads me to repeat it--because you give man's purpose real encouragement by your own example.

Man's purpose must be to unite and to seize this hour of hope. For the first time in his history, man can now think and act in global terms to improve the human condition. He can change the conditions that breed war. He can do something about the old tyrannies of hunger, disease, and ignorance that enslave two-thirds of his race.

He can do it because a new sense of community, of constructive world order, is quietly emerging today. We call it regionalism. It is built of man's growing conviction that action is most effective when it is collective action. It recognizes that whatever the passions of nationalism, the problems of a region respect no national borders. It says that mankind has a common destiny, and that determined men may combine to shape it--through shared experience, joint development, economic integration, and regional cooperation.

So we know, Mr. President, how deeply you share this purpose. We want you to know that we will uphold it with you. All men can be certain that wherever there is freedom--wherever there is human need-wherever America's hand is asked in partnership--we respond.

My distinguished friends, who have come here from various .parts of the Nation, I ask you now to join me in a toast to a man whose purpose inspires our own. Let us honor the distinguished President of the Federal Republic of Cameroon.

Note: The President proposed the toast at 2:05 p.m. at a luncheon in the State Dining Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to President El Hadj Ahmadou Ahidjo, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, Minister of Foreign Affairs Benoit Bindzl of Cameroon, and Under Secretary of State Nicholas deB. Katzenbach. As printed this item follows the text released by the White House Press Office.

President Ahidjo responded as follows:

Mr. President:

I want to say at the outset how glad I am to be again in these United States, because I recall with very deep-felt emotion the extremely warm welcome that was given to me by the late and lamented President Kennedy and by yourself, sir, on the occasion of my official visit to this country in 1962.

The unforgettable memory of that occasion, together with the very kind and encouraging words that you have said with regard to my country and with regard to my person, bear, very definitely, witness to the extremely friendly feelings that unite our two countries.

Since its independence, Cameroon has had very friendly relations with the United States. And those relations, in spite of the geographical distance and in spite of historical differences, show that our two peoples are determined to know each other better, since they are fully aware, also, of the great need for further and more effective cooperation.

Cooperation today in our world is a basic requirement, because cooperation reflects an awareness on the part of mankind that something has to be done in order to successfully fight against underdevelopment which divides so badly the world in which we live.

I also want to say that cooperation is a very important aspect of the whole problem of peace, because today it is quite correct to say that if one wants peace one has to help to develop one-half of mankind that still lives in ignorance and poverty.

We are particularly gratified ourselves that the United States, because of its position and its resources, is in a position to play a decisive part in that fight against underdevelopment and that in doing that the United States is definitely in favor of both bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

As far as Cameroon is concerned, the attitude of the United States has been very clearly shown in the assistance given to very important projects in our country.

I want to express at this time the gratefulness and the appreciation of our people for the help we have received from your nation.

Ladies and gentlemen, I now propose a toast to the health of President Johnson and to the happiness of the American people.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and President Ahidjo of Cameroon Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives