"Consequently, a stable environment conducive to economic growth and development was fostered. A bond of kinship, endemic only to our distinct African sociology was engendered. The Mano River Union translated into the beacon of a new sense of African consciousness. It bespoke of the ability of Africans to recognise our unique oneness and transform our diversities into ingenuities, our difficulties into challenges and our similarities into bulwarks of strength.
This is why we believe that the spirit of goodwill, fraternity and concord, which will characterise your deliberations over the next few days, could serve as a concrete basis upon which our relations can be strengthened and sustained. As our countries share membership in several organisations such as the Mano River Union, ECOWAS and the OAU, it is my firm belief that your meeting here in Monrovia will further enhance African solidarity and brotherhood and above all make us realise that ultimately only Africans can solve Africa's problems.
It is in this light that I commend you, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, for this initiative and the role each of you is playing in helping to resolve the issues facing our sub-region. Your being here today is a clear indication of your desire to foster understanding, peace and goodwill, not only in our sub-region but throughout Africa and yea the world.
By these actions, you are demonstrating to the world that genuine peace can only be attained when nations and leaders are willing to sit together and with sincerity deliberate upon the issues affecting the relations, for in the absence of peace, nothing else can be achieved. Therefore, peace through dialogue and cooperation must become a yardstick by which we measure advances in our relationships.
Embedded in you parliamentarians is the power of the people. You are closest to their hopes, desires and aspirations. Your enterprise must be to save the union and its representations. I challenge you to begin with a precise focus on legislation that would give realisation to the concept of the West African citizenship and ensure the economic empowerment and improvement of our people.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, one century ago, wise people dreamed and worked for the freedom of the African continent. This self-selected band comprised people of African descent, some of them living in the diaspora and others living on the continent. They shared common concerns, an embryonic vision for an African continent, free from the yoke of colonialism and free to determine their own future within the global family of nations.
The vision of such men as Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, William VS Tubman, Modibo Keita, Milton Margai, amongst others, that Africa could not be free until apartheid and all vestiges of colonial rule were finally vanquished became a reality in 1994 when South Africa, the last enclave of colonial or minority rule achieved majority rule.
African independence was achieved through the strenuous efforts of generations of nationalists, political leaders and outstanding individuals. A hundred years later, modern Africa must continue to count on such individuals who have distinguished themselves as leaders with extraordinary abilities.
As in the past, Africa's wise people, while firmly rooted in the cultural heritage of our continent, must continue the long and sometimes agonising joining from the village to national, continental and international prominence.
We must be prepared to play our roles well for the sake of Africa's well being, while remaining both the carriers and the fruits of Africa's struggle as we transition into the new millennium. Africa's journey towards well being remains far from finished. Indeed, the times are heavy ladened with stress, sufferings and sorrows. Therefore, Africa's wise people, blessed with clear vision, must be drawn together anew in the ongoing struggle for peace and reconciliation and development.
In many areas around the world the last decade of the 20th century has been particularly challenging. This era has been characterised by political turmoil and ethnic and tribal conflict, and in the case of Africa this situation is being compounded by the debt crisis, which has had a crippling effect on the economies of our countries. Indeed, we must only see this as a transitional period in the life of our continent. To move forward to a democratic and economically strong society is not going to be an easy task.
The experience of conflicts and wars reveals the difficulties of this transition. My deepest concern is that Africa should transform this process by resolving its conflicts in order to start reconstruction of our continent. Many people seem to want to give up too early and think that we as a people just cannot make it in the march to democracy and development. Some are even willing to go back to the old regimes of yesteryear because of the difficulties and losses being faced during this transitional period. Others may want to exploit our conflicts as an opportunity to further divide us.
We cannot, and must not, turn back the hand of time. After all, the difficult transitional period is not unique to Africa. As Africans, we must chart our own course to democracy. We must know that we are in the wilderness of conflicts and deprivation, but this is only temporary. We need not die in the wilderness. There is a land of promise before us.
My brothers and sisters, you are meeting at a time when mutual suspicion is rife and threats to regional peace and security abounds. Your convocation is being evoked at a time when Liberia is grappling with the aftermath of a civil war, whilst Sierra Leone is being decimated and destroyed by war.
Providence has shuffled its deck of fate and in your hands have been placed the urgency of providing hope in the midst of hopelessness, eschewing divisiveness and embracing oneness, fostering economic growth and development, and eradicating poverty and disease, securing for ourselves and our children a better tomorrow.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the Republics of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, except for geopolitical reasons, are but one country. We share common borders. Our children attend schools in each other's countries, not to mention the common ethnic background of many of our citizens. How, then, can we not accept the fact that maintaining peace in our sub-region is the best that we can do for the betterment of all us all?
As I again welcome you, let me assure you that we in Liberia are prepared and shall do everything in our power to ensure the peace and security of the Republic of Guinea and the Republic of Sierra Leone, for we are convinced that our own peace can only be assured if our brothers and sisters next door are at peace.
May your deliberations be fruitful, and I wish you God's blessings."
Mr Taylor, I have to ask: That last paragraph, "... our own peace can only be assured if our brothers and sisters next door are at peace," was that a genuine sentiment?