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Remarks by Hon. Prof. Palamagamba J.A.M. Kabudi, Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation During the Book Launch "A Monument to China-Africa Friendship: Firsthand Account of the Building of the TAZARA" (Swahili Version)
2020/08/25

Your Excellency, Wang Ke, Ambassador of People’s Republic of China to Tanzania;

Mr. Walter Bgoya, Managing Director of Mkuki na Nyota Publishers;

Prof. Humphrey Moshi, Director of the Centre for Chinese Studies-University of Dar es Salaam;

Governments Officials;

Staff of the Embassy of China present;

Distinguished participants;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Good morning!

I must hasten to admit that I experienced difficult moments to decide whether, I should make my speech in English or Swahili. Since this event is about launching a Swahili version of the book “A monument to China-Africa Friendship: Firsthand Account of the Building of the TAZARA” compiled by the Department of Policy Planning of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in 2015. Naturally one would be expected to have the speech in the language of the book that is Swahili.

Having due regard of the international character of this occasion I however, decided to deliver my speech in English. Indeed, I have had the opportunity to read the English version of the book (which is 257 pages - to be precise). Who knows? The Swahili version might have new features or narrations! In fact it has, (as observed by Mr. Bgoya and Prof. Moshi), the Swahili version has included among others, the narration of the Late Ambassador Job Lusinde which is missing in the English version that I read. Therefore, I am not breaking the maxim of relevance of communication by addressing you in English.

Your Excellency,

I take great pleasure to express my sincere appreciation to you and the Embassy of People’s Republic of China for organizing this wonderful event and for inviting me to grace it. It is the first one of its kind to have been spearheaded by an Embassy here in Tanzania and, therefore, is historical, rhyme and phenomenal in defining the in-depth cordial relationships that exists between Tanzania and China. I must say that I feel very much honoured to be part of this seminal event.

I wish also to extend my gratitude to the excellent workmanship of Mkuki na Nyota Publishers who translated the book into Swahili language; their unmatched skills and ingenuity made the launching of the Swahili version of the book possible. Thank you so much.

Your Excellency,

I would like also to convey my sincere appreciation to all participants for bracing all odds to take part in this important event. As the Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation I find this launching of the book as part of the wider approach of enhancing public diplomacy between our two brotherly countries. This book will not only serve to make Swahili a prominent language around the globe but will certainly help to transcend the deep account about the China-Africa friendship to the majority of Tanzanians who are more conversant with Swahili than English.

This will definitely lend a hand in keeping this historical description alive as observed by the Late His Excellency Benjamin William Mkapa, Former President of Tanzania in his narration found at page 188 of the book. I quote: I think our media ought to look back on history too, not just the present. We must remember how the past has brought us to where we are today. It is very important. Whenever there are anniversaries of the opening of the TAZARA…, we must keep the memory alive among our people. That’s one thing we have to do.”

Your Excellency,

Reflecting from this extract, I wish to qualify my remarks by making reference to the context under which TAZARA was built. The request to Chairman Mao Zedong, to build TAZARA was made by the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the father of our Nation and Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, the former President of the Republic of Zambia, at the height of the cold war. It was made at the time when there existed the myth that the settler regimes in the Southern Africa would last forever and as such Zambia would have no outlet to the sea. China offered in at the time every effort was being made to stifle the project. This is the extent, in one part, to which China was ready to support the struggles of the people of Africa for economic, social and political development. That position of China has continued to be consistent even today. On the other part, the actual construction of the railway itself was not easy and required a lot of sacrifice from Chinese government and people. A number of Chinese (over 60 Chinese workers) died in the course of the construction. But the steadfast of China with corresponding commitment of Tanzania and Zambia made the difference.

Your Excellency,

If I were to narrate all the history of TAZARA, I guess, I will not only spend the whole day, but take away the inspiration to read the book especially by the younger generation which is the largest part of the participants I see here today. It therefore suffices to say that TAZARA meant everything as far as the changing of the political, economic and geo-strategic situation of the Southern Africa region is concerned. This great Uhuru railway is indeed an eloquent manifestation of South-South cooperation that has yet to be matched.

It is a history that the younger generation must know in order to emulate the courage and bravery of its founders. They must know in order to carry forward TAZARA spirit and keep it afloat. We must plan to make TAZARA more economically viable, efficient and cost effective. It must become the success story it was meant to be. Opening up those areas it is passing is one way that would help make the railway busy and earn.

Your Excellency,

We are therefore not gathered here simply to celebrate a book launch; rather, we are here to acknowledge the longstanding and prospering relations between our two countries.

Tanzania and China are historical friends. Our future is inextricably linked; our economies are complementary; our interests in global stability and prosperity are in sync and we both believe that any challenge that our two countries face can best be resolved by working together. These relations are witnessed in how TAZARA was built. Despite the years that TAZARA was built was a time in which China’s economy was frail and developing, the TAZARA railway was built in record time. To date, the Tanzania-Zambia Railway remains one of the biggest projects China has ever undertaken overseas and one of its largest aid endowments.

Your Excellency,

I have been alert that a book launch event like this is not meant to be speeches’ day. Therefore, allow me to close my remarks by once again thanking you for this wonderful event which has offered us a moment to reflect on the instinctive solidarity that exist between China and Africa in general and between China and Tanzania in particular.

My last advice to all of us present here is to make sure we get a copy of this book and read it. As you will be reading the book, I would recommend that you start contemplating and planning for successful future of TAZARA so that it continues to serve our countries and our region as well.

Having said that it is now my singular honour and pleasure to declare this event and the book launch duly opened.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Asante Sana!

Xie Xie!

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