Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Toasts of the President and President Toure of the Republic of Guinea.

October 26, 1959

Mr. President, Madame Toure, Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a distinct honor to welcome here this evening the new President of the newest independent nation in the world. I welcome not only President Toure of the Republic of Guinea, but his charming wife and the members of the party which have accompanied him to this country.

We are especially pleased that he should have chosen the United States to be the country that he should visit on his first official journey outside his own country, and amidst the preoccupations that are naturally his in the effort of leading a new country, establishing new customs, new procedures in government that are so important to his people.

I assure you, Mr. President, that the American people not only watch this new venture with great interest, but they extend to you and your people their very best wishes for a life in freedom, in justice, and in peace.

We want to be, with you, friends--we hope good friends, and we feel certain that this visit of yours cannot but help to inspire the peoples of both our countries to establish and maintain that kind of relationship.

So, ladies and gentlemen, it is a special honor for me this evening to ask you to rise to drink a Toast to President Toure, the President of Guinea.

Note: The President proposed this toast at a state dinner at the White House. President Toure's response (as translated) follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Eisenhower, Ladies and Gentlemen:

In the name of the people of Guinea, I would like to express here the joy which all the members of our delegation have felt from the very moment they set foot upon the soil of the United States. There is no doubt in our minds that the friendly and brotherly invitation extended to us by the Government of the United States expresses in a very clear way the warm, friendly, sympathetic relationship which must exist between the United States and the peoples of black Africa.

No one can claim for himself the right to speak for all of Africa. But each man has the right, and the pride, to be able to attempt to express the hopes and the aspirations of the peoples of Africa. And the only ambition which fills us is that of making understood the aspirations and the hopes of Africa.

History is what it is--it includes the past, the present, and the future. There is an African proverb which says that the world rests on three pillars: in the present there is the past; in the future there is the present and the past. The past of Africa is heavy, but we hope that the future of Africa will be light indeed.

Our hope for freedom, for brotherhood, and for peace is a deeply felt aspiration, and a unanimous one. And we hope that all those who wish to build the world of tomorrow will look at what is happening and what will happen in the future, and forget those things in the past which have divided the world.

As I told my brothers, who were here in this country and whom I met today, if one had to look back three centuries ago, no one at that time could have dreamed of the part that would be played today in the history of the world by the United States. In these three centuries, many States united and worked together to develop, on a gigantic scale, progress in the economic, political, and social sense.

These results which have been achieved are due to the faith which those Founding Fathers had in the future of their country. And the faith which we have in the present difficulties through which we are passing, we feel will build the future of the world.

And when we come here, we come not as the messengers of the sufferings of our people, but rather as the messengers of the future hopes of our people. Our present difficulties do exist. They are realities which we must face, but we feel that our courage will enable us to overcome them. And we are confident of the relations that will exist between our countries. We know that we came here in the first place to express our thanks for the kind invitation of the United States Government inviting us here; to express our confidence that the future will be built on the strong and close relationships which will exist between our peoples.

It is true that geographically and population-wise the Republic of Guinea is a small country, but that country would like to play a part in the relationships between nations in those things which bring nations together and bring about a collaboration of peoples and of races. In that field we would like to make an earnest. sincere, and dynamic contribution.

There are those who do not see the future of Africa the way we in Guinea see it, and they may believe that the policy of Guinea is a different one from that which is publicly expressed every day by those who are in charge--who lead the people of Guinea. If there is one small country in the world around whom more legends have been created than any other since 1958, we can say that that country is Guinea. But we thank God that we have acceded to full sovereignty over our own people under worthy conditions. And the pride and consciousness we feel of the part we must play does not allow us to have an attitude of disloyalty toward any party because the ambition which fills us is to rehabilitate and rekindle the civilization of Africa. And these civilizations of Africa are in nowise in conflict or in contradiction to the civilizations and cultures of other countries, but will come as a valuable contribution and join with the contributions made by other peoples, so that the whole world may profit thereby.

We, as far as we are concerned, have faith in the equality of men. But the reality which we face has created a situation in which there is inequality in the means available to men. It is not an equality with other countries or an equality between the black man and the white man which God has ordained that we particularly seek. It is, rather, the equality in the technical and scientific fields-in the field of progress. Because it is only in these three fields that Africa lags behind the other civilizations of the world.

We are convinced that the Government of the United States will know how to assist Africa. And we know we are filled with confidence that Africa, which is an under-developed area, cooperating and collaborating with the United States, a highly-developed area, will be able to find the means to insure its own development in the social, political, and economic fields.

We are convinced that the rest of the century in which we live will see an Africa completely emancipated.

We are convinced that in a spirit of working together, in a spirit of collaboration, Africa will be able to find all the wealth of her soil and her subsoil, and not merely to locate this wealth but also to use it in such a way as to bring about a development and raising of the standards of living of all her peoples.

We ask you, therefore, not to judge us or think of us in terms of what we were-or even of what we are--but rather to think of us in the terms of history and what we will be tomorrow.

We ask, and we hope, that the friendship established between our peoples will grow ever stronger and ever closer. We ask that the United States, and particularly the Government of the United States, which bears such a heavy responsibility in the world, will continue its policy of direct cooperation with the peoples of Africa. And you may be sure that America's future and the African future will be preserved and safeguarded by this cooperation.

We would also like, in the name of all those whom we can legitimately claim to represent, to extend our warmest thanks and congratulations to the President of the United States, to his charming wife and to all those who work with him, not only on behalf of the United States, but on behalf of all the peoples of the world.

We would like to speak here tonight with the young voice of Africa, which is not yet fully understood. This voice with which we speak has no place in it for any hatred against any people anywhere. I would like to speak with a message of brotherhood, a message of cooperation, and a message of solidarity-not because Africa stands to gain anything from this cooperation--but because the delay and the lag of Africa is something that is felt throughout the world in the international field. And similarly we are convinced that the progress of Africa will likewise have repercussions on the international scene.

America has always been known as the land of freedom. And there is no African who does not, every day, give thought to one of the great statements made by one of your great Presidents, Abraham Lincoln; that is, the greatness of men and people is created in the love of men and people.

We hope that the friendship between Africa and America will grow, and that it will aid mankind to find a happier future than we have known in the past.

And in thanking the Government and the people of the United States, I would ask you to join me in raising our glasses to the health and prosperity of the President of the United States, and his charming wife, and of the American people.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Toasts of the President and President Toure of the Republic of Guinea. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234511

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