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Toasts of the President and of President Banda of the Republic of Malawi

June 08, 1967

President Banda, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Secretary of State, distinguished members of the Presidential party, Mr. Justice Douglas, gentlemen:

We are honored today to visit once again with the distinguished President of the Republic of Malawi.

We hope that for President Banda--as for us--this visit is like a homecoming. Dr. Banda was educated in the United States of America. He has spent a great deal of time here in our country. We are delightfully encouraged that he keeps returning despite the fact that he knows us reasonably well.

Since Dr. Banda's arrival, he and I have been engaged in a very fruitful discussion of the problems of Africa and the problems of the world. The Doctor has provided me with his insights on a very wide range of concerns. I must say to my colleagues here today and citizens of my country, that I am very pleased to find such broad agreement between us on the international questions of the day.

But while Malawi's attention is rightly focused on the future--on the problems of international development, President Banda leads a new nation--a nation which is working very hard to offer its people--the citizens of its land--a better future tomorrow.

Gibbon called independence "the first of earthly blessing." Malawi's independence is well-established. But President Banda and his countrymen realize, recognize, and know that nationhood is much more.

They know, as we learned a long time ago, that ringing speeches count very little unless they are accompanied by economic advance. They know that development is just another word for work, for planning, and for long, hard application.

They know that the future of Malawi is largely a product of a people's faith in themselves. The real test is the amount of effort that they put behind that faith.

Americans, Mr. President--as you know--understand these truths. We, too, are a very young nation. We, too, faced an uphill economic fight in the early years of our independence.

I am reminded of an observation of one of my predecessors in the Presidency, President Grant. The Pilgrims, he said, found they had to make a living in a climate "where there were nine months of winter and three months of cold weather .... "

Of course, I realize that this does not precisely describe your problem.

But our challenge, Mr. President, in many ways is very similar to the challenge that you face. It is this experience which has taught us a lesson that you know well. That lesson is that the ingredients of economic growth are not just physical resources, not just a good climate, not just fertile soil.

The critical elements are people--human beings--their dreams, their application, their dedication, their persistence.

I know that the people of Malawi--and their distinguished President--have these qualities in abundance. How do I know it? We broke ground for a pulp mill in the last hour and we built 300 miles of highways already.

So my good friends from throughout the Nation, particularly from the State of Indiana where the distinguished President went to school, the State of Ohio--represented here by Senator Young today--where the distinguished President took his education, I ask all of you to rise and join me in a toast to our most honored guest, Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda of the Republic of Malawi.

Note: The President spoke at 2:35 p.m. at a luncheon in the State Dining Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to President Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi, Hubert H. Humphrey, Vice President of the United States, Dean Rusk, Secretary of State, and William O. Douglas, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. As printed above this item follows the text released by the White House Press Office.

President Banda responded as follows:

Your Excellency, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Secretary of State, distinguished guests, and gentlemen:

I am tricked. When I came here, as a matter of fact, I did not know that the luncheon was going to be like this. I was told in Zomba by the American Ambassador that the President wanted to have just a quiet lunch with me, you see.

So when I came here this morning, all I expected was that it would be just probably the three of us, the President himself, and the Secretary of State, somewhere, not in a gathering of this kind.

However, I would like to thank you very much, Mr. President, for your kindness in arranging a function of this kind to give me an opportunity to meet you and your colleagues, and those that work with you.

As you have rightly said, when I come here, I feel the homecoming spirit, because I was educated in this country.

I had my high school in this country at Wilber-force Academy just outside of Xenia--about 9 or 10 miles from Xenia.

Then from there, I went to the University of Indiana in Bloomington, Indiana; from there to the University of Chicago where I got my first degree, and then Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee-after which I went to Edinburgh.

So, you see, I feel at home here. That is probably why I behave as I do, I speak as I do, I act as I do-many, many times when others don't exactly see my point.

You see, I came here at the most impressionable age.

If I went back home after I was a doctor, gave up my medical practice in London and began to fight for my people's political freedom, it was because you, your country, taught me.

"I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"

That saying, which my high school teacher taught me, rang in my mind when I went back home.

Anyway, I didn't come here to talk politics. But what I would like you to know is that what you have said is exactly what I am telling my people. From the very day I went back home, I told my people: "Independence does not mean money and wealth will rain on our heads like manna from heaven. No. It means hard work."

It so happens that we have no gold or copper or diamonds or oil there. So I say to my people, "Here we have no mines, no factories. Our mines and factories are the ground--the soil. From the soil every penny we have in this country comes in the form of maize, groundnuts, tobacco, cotton, and other products of the soil."

My people know my policy--hard work. And I am happy to tell you, Mr. President, that my people listened to me.

I said to my people, "We have won our independence now, but we have to build this country. And to build this country, we have to have money. If I am to be listened to by the President of the United States, by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, by the President of the Republics of France or Germany, you, my people, must work hard so that when I go to Washington, to London, go to Paris, go to Bonn I will say to them, 'Look, Mr. President, my people have cleared the road. All the bush are cleared, all the trees. But there is the river, the Shire River.

"'They cannot bridge it with their femur-with their legbone. It requires steel and steel requires money.' If I tell my friends in the West that you, my people, are working hard, but there are things we cannot do with our hands--we need money, they will listen to me."

As a result, these boys, women, everywhere work very, very hard. I come here now to say I want a road. My people have cleared the grass and the trees. We need good bridges. Therefore, the kind of road that my people can build cannot do it. You have to persuade your banks, or your international development association, and other organizations like that to help us. That is why I am asking for that.

At the same time, we have trees. We are planting trees. We can't turn them into anything else, unless you help us. That is why I am asking you to ask "Mr. Chase Manhattan" and other bankers.

You have mentioned that since I have been here this morning we have broken ground on a number of points. I am not going to go into detail about that, but I would like you to know, Mr. President, that whatever it may cost me, I always do what I think is the right thing--according to my own con science.

In 1960-61 I was asked to lecture at Yale. I told the students there--when they asked me what was going to be Malawi's foreign policy, when we became independent--that Malawi's policy, when we became independent would be this: "Discretional alignment and nonalignment. No automatic alignment, because," I said, "no nation or a group of nations is always right and no nation or a group of nations is always wrong. Therefore, Malawi's policy, foreign policy, will be to associate with any power that is, on a particular given international problem, according to my view, in the right."

And it so happens that most of the time, according to my understanding anyway, the West is right.

Therefore, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Secretary of State, if you read in the papers or hear that I am unpopular, or the unpopular man number one in Africa, you will understand now why.

[At this point President Johnson made the following concluding remarks: "The President and I had just concluded our conversation before lunch, but in the light of what he said about his people listening to him, I am pleased to observe that he has a formula that I would like to inquire more definitely into. $o as you go your own way, I will be talking with President Banda."]

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

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