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German Unity Day 3rd October 2019

04.10.2019 - Article

Speech of German Ambassador Dr. Albrecht Conze on the occasion of the celebration of the German Day of Unity on 3rd October 2019


The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uganda, Hon. Sam Kutesa,

Mrs. Edith Kutesa,

Ministers, Members of Parliament,

Excellencies my fellow Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Heads of international Organizations,

My dear compatriots,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me extend to you a very warm welcome to our Residence as we are celebrating the day of German unity tonight. My wife and I, and all members of this embassy feel honoured by the presence of so many good friends and distinguished guests. We have done our best to temporarily transform this residence into Kampala’s beer garden of choice.

I will not bother you with facts and figures about our bilateral cooperation. You can find them in today’s national newspapers. Let me instead resume German-Ugandan relations in two points:

  • First, what we are doing in Uganda: it is very much focused on three of the major challenges this country is facing: creating jobs for the young, strengthening your institutions, and coping with the ongoing refugee crisis. To these of Uganda’s top priorities Germany is happy to respond.
  • Second, how we are proceeding: We do nothing in this country without being asked. We do not prescribe or interfere. We try to follow the wisdom of the father of modern science, Galileo Galilei who has told us that one cannot teach a man anything; one can only help him find it within himself. What is true for men, I believe, is also true for nations. 

There may be a reason why Germans have perhaps reflected more about this than others. Please allow me a short glimpse at our history.

Three months ago, a significant anniversary passed almost unnoticed: One hundred years of Germany without colonies. We had arrived late for the scramble for Africa because Chancellor Bismarck never wanted colonies. And we were forced to leave early as France and Britain decided to put a sudden end to our empire at Versailles. Our colonial experience had merely lasted thirty years.

Obviously, the Germans of 1919 didn’t like that. And just as obviously, those of 2019 feel the opposite way: losing our colonies early turned out to be a blessing. We have had much more time to readjust our attitudes towards Africa than those colonial powers who stayed longer.

My compatriots who are here tonight are all working with Ugandans, not for them. Let us not cultivate resentment where we need honesty. Cecil Rhodes and Carl Peters are long dead, but so is Frantz Fanon. Let us put to rest the battles of the past, once and for all.

Let us turn to the future instead. This country’s future will be bright in as much as Ugandans make the right choices. Choices your well educated middle class is fully able to make; choices that will trickle down from downtown Kampala to also empower less educated Ugandans, in the villages; choices in which Germans are assisting and accompanying you.

I have promised not to bore you with technical details. I will just give you the essence of our engagement, the gist of it. It can be summed up in two words: jobs and empowerment. Six to seven hundred thousand young people leave school every year. They need jobs. Not unskilled and unproductive jobs, but serious employment to make plans for their lives in our rapidly changing world. The dramatic transformation of our planet has no mercy for anyone staying behind.

We have out method, as others have theirs. We don’t come in with hundreds of people to do your job. We come with a few, and then propose training. We invite some of your best young professionals to Germany to expose them to our way of working. They then bring back to Uganda what they have learned, and their knowledge trickles down. We have agreed with the Government of Uganda to increase technical and vocational training, something for which my country is well known.

Whether we assist you in spreading your electricity grid, in facilitating access to finance in rural areas, in managing your water supply and sewage systems, in facing the skills challenge of the future oil industry – whatever we do in Uganda is somehow linked to job creation. Our focus is on the less fortunate regions. We have decentralized our activities, now operating from regional offices in Gulu and Mbale. And we are assisting local governments in the poorest regions of Uganda.

German activity is manifold. However, it remains too much focused on official development support, through GIZ and KfW. They are doing extraordinary work, but it is not yet matched by an equally strong engagement of the German private sector. Hence my appeal to the Government: please do more for branding and marketing your country in Germany. You are very successful in attracting our tourists. But you could do better in explaining to our business community why they should come here and invest. I for one will not give up on this endeavor.

A word on refugees. We highly appreciate Uganda’s generous pan-African policy. We are proud to be among your three or four main allies in supporting you to host your brothers and sisters in distress. Our support is comprehensive, not only directed to the refugees, but also to the communities that are hosting them.

Dear guests, please bear with me when I now say a few words to my compatriots in German.

Ein spezieller und herzlicher Willkommensgruß an Sie alle, liebe Landsleute, die Sie hier leben und in und mit Uganda arbeiten. Mit Ihrem großen Einsatz für die Entwicklung dieses Landes mehren Sie unser Ansehen. Lassen Sie uns gemeinsam Deutschlands guten Ruf täglich neu rechtfertigen - durch unsere Arbeit und durch das gute Beispiel, das wir geben. Dazu wünsche ich Ihnen Kraft, Energie und stets guten Mut.

Ladies and Gentlemen: the best is yet to come in German-Ugandan relations. Please take a look at the map of the world: We belong to one double continent. That makes us natural partners. Our remembrance is not burdened by any heaviness. So what does your host have to do after such a happy conclusion? The answer is easy: raise his glass and propose a toast.

So this is what I will do now, and with great pleasure: raise my glass

  • to the trusted friendship between Germany and Uganda,
  • to the bright future, prosperity and happiness of the people of this country,
  • to the health of my Chief guest, Hon. Minister Sam Kutesa and Mrs. Kutesa, and   
  • to the health of H. E. President Yoweri Kagata Museveni.

Cheers !

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