Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Egal of the Somali Republic

March 14, 1968

Mr. Prime Minister and Mrs. Egal, Mr. Vice President and Mrs. Humphrey, Mr. Chief Justice and Mrs. Warren, Secretary Rusk and Mrs. Rusk, Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Webster defines "egalitarian" as one who believes in equal opportunity for all men.

It is not usually the function of the President to expand on Webster.

But I think we can add to Mr. Webster's definition.

We are all egalitarians tonight, not only in our belief in the equality of man, but in our admiration of a man for whom that philosophy might have been named. No statesman is struggling harder today to realize the dream of democracy for his own people than the man that we honor tonight, Prime Minister Egal.

After our talk this afternoon, Mr. Prime Minister, a friend told me of an old Muslim saying that I am sure you know. It says: "There are four things which can never be retrieved--the spoken word, the sped arrow, times past, and the neglected opportunity."

Mr. Prime Minister, you have practiced the wisdom of that proverb.

Your words have always served the cause of peace. You have stayed the arrows of conflict which threatened to bring bloodshed to the Horn of Africa. And you have lost no time, and you have neglected no opportunity, in the search for true progress for all of your people.

You come to us, Mr. Prime Minister, from a new Africa where change is as certain as the sunrise. You are one of those who have determined that change shall always mean promise for your people.

You have helped to found a true democracy, where each man has a voice in his nation's future. You have done much to lessen the tensions that threatened East Africa with the waste of war. And you have begun the long, hard job of economic development to bring your people the food and shelter and education that all men seek and that all men deserve.

Mr. Prime Minister, we here in the United States are inspired by your courage. We admire your perseverance. And most of all we are delighted by your presence here this evening.

Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to join me now in a toast to a wise leader and his people.

To the President and to the people of the Somali Republic--and to the Prime Minister and his charming lady, Mrs. Egal.

Note: The President spoke at 10:54 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House at a dinner honoring Prime Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Egal. In his opening words he also referred to Vice President and Mrs. Hubert H. Humphrey, Chief Justice and Mrs. Earl Warren, and Secretary of State and Mrs. Dean Rusk.

Prime Minister Egal responded as follows:

Mr. President, Lady Johnson, Mr. Humphrey, Mrs. Humphrey, Mr. Secretary of State, Mrs. Dean Rusk, distinguished friends, ladies and gentlemen:

When I came to the United States, naturally, as the Prime Minister, I came to talk to the Government of the United States as a man. I came to take a closer look at the man who holds the final decision on so many things and, in fact, on so many things that affect our lives wherever we are in this globe of ours that is getting smaller and smaller.

Having seen your President, Mr. Johnson, I fed I am going back with a comfortable feeling and I will feel happy and can sleep nights in the comfort and knowledge that that power is in the right hands.

Mr. President, I feel humbled by the glowing tribute you have paid to me and my colleagues for the little we have done for the Horn of Africa.

We have indeed tried our best to bring about peace between our people--our people in Somalia, our people in Kenya, our people in Ethiopia--in the concept of the OAU and the ideals of pan-Africanism. We feel that they are all our people. We owe a duty to them all and it is our duty to look after the prosperity of all.

I do not feel, Mr. President, that what we have done is at all worthy of so much praise. In fact, your praise and the tribute you have paid to us will only inspire us more--to do more service to those people who, God knows, need more help.

Mr. President, the greatest problems of Africa today are not politics. It is as though it is not the objective of Africa to fight each other but have intelligent attitudes of confrontation.

We have greater frontiers, better frontiers, frontiers of economic development, to fight against poverty, against ignorance, and against the evils which we wish to leave behind.

These, Mr. President, are targets which have to be met by ourselves. These are targets for which we need the assistance of friends like the United States.

We are going to leave wars, confrontations, bickering and rivalry, and jealousy behind. Your tribute and your example and your want for others will be a constant inspiration for us along that road.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, will you rise with me to drink to the health of the President of the United States and the friendship between Somalia and the United States of America.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Egal of the Somali Republic Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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