Jimmy Carter photo

Toasts of the President and President Nyerere of Tanzania at a Working Dinner for the Tanzanian President

August 04, 1977

PRESIDENT CARTER. Infrequently on the world scene, there arises a young leader at the beginning of the history of a nation who in a strange but all pervasive way represents what his people are and what his country hopes to be. And our guest tonight is that kind of leader.

Fourteen years ago, he came here when his nation was 2 years old. He had been searching for a role of leadership in a sacrificial way, came from a small town, and came to visit our young President, President John Kennedy. They exchanged ideas about the future, and he honored our country then by coming.

Now our guest, President Nyerere from Tanzania, has come here as a distinguished senior citizen--still young in body and in spirit, but experienced and respected and, a man who, when he speaks, has others listen; a man of modesty and great achievement who, in my opinion, holds the key to the future of peace and equality of treatment and opportunity and freedom in Africa as dearly and as closely as any person alive.

I'm very honored that he would come and meet with me today and tomorrow and to visit us in the White House tonight. I've been talking to him about ground nuts--[laughter]--and life in the rural area and his struggle for a good education and what his religious life means to him and the impact of his father on his social consciousness. And I've learned a lot about him in the process.

We have a need for advice and counsel and cooperation and mutual support, because the tremendous power of our country can be felt in the region of the world which is of great interest to President Nyerere.

The southern part of Africa, as you well know, is one that's troubled, where people are struggling to escape from the historical impact of colonialism and trying to do it peacefully.

We, like Tanzania, were formerly subjects of the British Crown, and we had a military victory to achieve independence. Tanzania had a victory in a peaceful fashion.

We now see other nations struggling for their own independence, where their own people might make a judgment as to who their leaders might be and the form of their government and the policies of their nation.

Rhodesia is one of those countries; Namibia is another. And the national leaders who hope to lead the new nation of Zimbabwe in the future look to our guest for counsel and for guidance and for support and for leadership and for inspiration.

He has joined with others for many years in struggling for a peaceful solution to the problems in Zimbabwe and Namibia. That has not yet been successful. And I think it's accurate to say that he and other front line Presidents and some of the leaders of the Western democracies in Europe and in our continent--if we are able to work in concert and to strive for justice and fairness--might very well bring a peaceful resolution to these questions in the southern part of Africa. That's my hope and my prayer. And I believe that this is the desire of the world.

Our Nation is blessed with great individual riches. The people in President Nyerere's country are relatively poor in material things, but they are blessed with a leader and officials of the government who are stable and respected and beloved, and justifiably so, by the people whom they lead.

We are honored at your presence, Mr. President, and I would like to propose a toast to the free and independent and lighthearted and hopeful people of your great country and to you, one of the leaders of the world.

PRESIDENT NYERERE. Mr. President, this is the second occasion I've listened to you talking about myself and my country. On both occasions, I feel a lump coming here, and then I feel, well, my notes are prepared, but I think the lump will go down. [Laughter]

I do want to thank you very much, Mr. President, for the encouraging words you've been saying about myself and my country, both this morning and now.

I have recently been reading some very good books about President Washington and his times. And I have come to the conclusion that the problems of young countries can be very similar. Although your Nation came into existence some 200 years ago, I suspect that if the first President of your country returned to Earth now, he might find it easier to understand the problems of Tanzania--[laughter]-better than he understands the problems which you face in the United States. I expect he might even be able to understand better my one-party system than your multi-party system. [Laughter]

For coming from Tanzania in 1977, I am very conscious of a few facts: Your country is now 201 years old; it is a firmly established political system, strong enough to withstand political crisis of great intensity and which cannot be upset by the intrigues or maneuvers of any other country. The United Republic of Tanzania became independent less than 16 years ago. Our union is just 13 years old, and we replaced our interim constitution only a few months ago. And not less relevant, in area, Tanzania is one-tenth the size of the United States; its population is less than one-thirteenth of your population. And the national income of Tanzania is a minute fraction of the national income of your country.

These facts, Mr. President, must affect the relationship between our two countries, and at least Tanzania's attitude towards your country. If you don't mind me saying it, where the law of the jungle still reigns, the pigmies are very wary of the giants. [Laughter]

For questions of world peace and justice do affect both of our countries, regardless of our differences in size. But your country is not only concerned about the problems of maintaining peace and building justice everywhere, as my country is; the great size and strength of your country and its economic power mean that the United States is also directly or indirectly involved in these matters everywhere in the world.

It is therefore not strange that in the United States and in our discussions, I should be concerned to learn more about your ideas and policies towards Africa. Nor is it surprising that I welcome the opportunity to explain to you and to your colleagues our commitment to the liberation of southern Africa from colonialism and racialism and our ideas about how this can be brought about.

Yet although the situation in southern Africa is simple in principle, it is not a simple one in practice. To achieve the liberation of Africa, we have to bring to an end the political, economic, and military structures in Rhodesia, in Namibia and South Africa, which are of longstanding and great, although varying, strength.

These structures will, sooner or later, be changed. The forces of nationalism cannot be defeated in the long run, and men will never willingly accept deliberate and organized humiliation as the price of existence. But how and how quickly these changes can be brought about is of vital concern to all the peoples of these areas, both black and white, to the rest of Africa, and also to the rest of the world.

It is unlikely that Tanzania and your country, Mr. President, will agree on all aspects of "how" and "how quickly" some of these changes will be able to be brought about in southern Africa. The problem of southern Africa has an urgency and a priority to Tanzania which this country may not share. But I believe that our two Governments will not, on this issue, again find themselves working for different objectives; I think we shall also find some points of agreement on how to assist the necessary changes.

For we in Tanzania have noticed with great pleasure the emphasis which you, Mr. President, and your colleagues give to support for human rights in the world. We welcome this emphasis. I am well aware that, as you yourself have said about America, no country warrants a clean report on this matter of human rights---certainly, Tanzania does not. No one in this country could be more aware of our faults than I am myself. But I do believe it to be important that this powerful country, whose Founding Fathers gave to the world that immortal liberation manifesto, the American Declaration of Independence, is now allowing this concern for human rights to influence its policies on major world issues and its relations with other countries in the world.

You have also said, Mr. President, that questions of human rights cannot be the only factor affecting America's relations with others, especially when the security of the United States is concerned. In saying that you were, it seems to me, just being honest and open with the people who elected you. For there is a realism in action forced upon practicing politicians, but which philosophers and others without responsibility can evade. This is also, unfortunately, the kind of realism which can lead to differences between statesmen who share the same broad political goals.

In the case of southern Africa, however, we believe that the long-term interests of the United States lie in the rapid end of racialism and colonialism in southern Africa.

In particular, the United States is now struggling to rectify the bitter effects of centuries of racial inequality and discrimination in your own country. I do not believe this struggle within your country would be made easier by the continued racial insult of apartheid in South Africa and the institutionalized racial domination in Rhodesia.

We have been greatly impressed and encouraged by what you, Mr. President, and your colleagues, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, and your Ambassador to the United Nations have been saying about these matters. And now I've had the chance to exchange views with you, and I'm greatly impressed and greatly encouraged. For in the past, American power has been an impediment to Africa's liberation; now, we feel that your power can be an aid to our struggle.

Your coming to the White House, Mr. President, has not changed the international law of the jungle, but our apprehensions have been greatly reduced by your coming to the White House.

Mr. President, our two countries are also mutually involved in other issues, especially matters relating to the international economic system, the law of the sea, and the general relations between the rich and the poor nations of this world. On these and similar subjects, the differences in our power and wealth and our different approach to questions of production and distribution may continue to keep our representatives on different sides at relevant international conferences. I do not pretend that these matters are small matters. Malnutrition and preventable disease, ignorance, and the lack of any resources with which to fight these evils are very fundamental to those personally affected.

But even in this area, it may be that we can extend our points of agreement a little. And I do believe that greater mutual understanding can flow from our discussion on these topics also, and that this will be promoted by the good will which you and your colleagues have shown to me and my colleagues and which we in Tanzania feel towards you, Mr. President, and the people of your country.

And now, friends, I also ask you to stand up and join me in a toast to President Carter and to the people of the United States.

NOTE; The President spoke at 9 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Toasts of the President and President Nyerere of Tanzania at a Working Dinner for the Tanzanian President Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243732

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives