True Mother at the Africa Summit
By Julian Gray, FFWPU International
Opening Plenary, January 18, 2018, Abdou Diouf International Conference Center (CICAD), Dakar, Senegal, West Africa
[This report is compiled quickly based on notes, and while it strives to convey the spirit and quality of the occasion, some of the accounts of speeches are truncated; the reader is advised to watch the video recording of the opening plenary session if possible.]
Many years from now, January 18, 2018 may be remembered as a turning point in the fortune and and power of the continent of Africa, where today, January 18, True Mother was the keynote speaker at an African summit—whose inception and form she herself had inspired. The summit drew a significant number of heads of state, speakers of houses of government, and ministerial representatives from all over Africa. Convened under the theme “Interdependence, Mutual Prosperity and Universal Values” the spirit of the opening plenary was that Africa would rise to fulfill its undoubted potential. Mother herself spoke of Africa as the world’s “first continent.”
MC Mr. Adama Doumbia, UPF secretary general for Africa, began by welcoming to the stage both our True Mother and the President of Senegal, Mr. Macky Sall, who entered to a standing ovation from the 1,200 or so assembled government officials, religious leaders, other dignitaries and guests.
The event began – as would be traditional in many countries – with the singing of the national anthem. The difference on this occasion was that the Senegalese anthem (entitled “The Red Lion”) was sung for everyone by the Little Angels of Korea, a gesture that was clearly appreciated by all present.
The MC then welcomed religious leaders for their prayers “in order to place this ceremony under divine protection.”
Two prayers were offered, by a Christian Bishop and a Muslim Imam.
In his prayer Zimbabwean Bishop Johannes Ndanga thanked God for His original plan for creation and expressed gratitude that God had raised up Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han Moon to work to bring this plan to fruition. He asked Heavenly Parent for the grace to both seek and give forgiveness, and for His guidance for leaders in politics and society.
Mother was the keynote speaker for this opening plenary, but first to speak was Sheikh Mansour Diouf, whose love for True Mother and close rapport with President Sall had made him the natural selection to be head of the Africa Summit’s organizing committee.
After expressing gratitude to our leaders “here and in the next world” Sheikh Mansour explained that while human beings cannot be without peace, it is difficult to install, keep and consolidate – and that education is required for the fight against problems such as ignorance and violence that prevent peace from settling. Sheikh Mansour praised Mother, saying that “she lives for peace and only for peace, that she would like to share with all of humankind.” He mentioned that Mother’s daily active work in so many fields were testimony to this. Mansour mentioned that Mother was planning to visit Gorée Island, which, from the 15th to the 19th century, was the largest slave-trading center on the African coast. He thanked President Sall for convening the summit as an expression of his devotion to peace, and the various members of the Senegalese government, traditional chiefs and youth leaders whose contributions to its being held were significant.
The MC then asked various groups among the distinguished guests to stand up and be recognized. There were large groups of official government representatives from across Africa, including house speakers (those from Burundi and Madagascar were mentioned), 36 ministers, and members of national assemblies.
There were religious leaders from all of Africa, traditional chiefs and chieftainesses, women leaders and youth leaders “standing humbly at the back of the room.” There were foreign journalists, businessmen, dignitaries from all fields.
Dr. Walsh then spoke, representing UPF, the co-sponsoring organization (together with the Senegalese government):
Addressing President Macky Sall, Dr. Walsh said, “Mr. President, it is like the UN here. And this is more modern and well equipped than the UN Headquarters!”
Dr. Walsh acknowledged (for the benefit of anyone who might have missed it) that the founding inspiration for the summit came from Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon whom he praised for leading her movement with vision, clarity, and deep spiritual wisdom. “Within her,” he said, “is a profound practical capacity to apply this spiritual and moral vision to solve problems humanity faces.”
“We know her as True Mother. She calls us all to be true parents to the world, to all humanity as our brothers and sisters. Mother will go to Gorée island, not to sightsee, but to pray for those who suffered there.”
Dr. Walsh recognized Shiekh Mansour, Kathy Rigney (more than 40 years in Africa, now Special Emissary of True Mother) and Rev. Bakary Camara, the regional group chair.
He welcomed and introduced Yeon-ah nim as WFWP chairwoman, and Hoon-sook nim as the director of the developing global foundation of the arts that plays so important a role; he introduced Wonju McDevitt and Dr. Young-ho Yoon as key leaders assisting True Mother with the global providential work. He then said a few words about UPF’s broad range of work and vision for Africa.
He said that the summit “will be not our conclusion but the beginning of our work, arm in arm and hand in hand.”
Then the Little Angels were back onstage, and sang a series of Senegalese songs, which the audience loved.
Former president of Mali Dioncounda Traoré spoke, outlining True Mother’s life, marriage to True Father, mentioning her 14 children and more than 40 grandchildren. Of True Mother’s life and work, he said, “She is known for her natural grace and charm. She fought alongside her husband to build a society of peace in the world. She still plays a real role: her generosity allows us to continue to fight for a world of peace, and she leads with conviction and determination, even launching new initiatives on the world level in the years since her husband passed away…. On behalf of all I would like to greet her with gratitude before giving her the floor.”
After a brief but well-made video of True Parents’ work for peace, Mother, looking tender and quite lovely, came to the podium to speak to the leaders of a continent.
True Mother’s speech [this is a partial summary from notes gleaned from the interpreter – please do not use these as an official record of Mother’s speech; fuller translations will be made available in due course]:
We have gathered to open a new era of history. This is the continent that will become a new heavenly Africa that will attend God. Africa is the birthplace of humanity.
Human beings seek to work based on the calling of the conscience. Deep within us our conscience calls us to work in moral way, and we seek to live a life centered on the ideal of peace.
There are many problems afflicting the world today. Humanity has sought to realize an ideal world of peace but that has not been easy. God created a man and a woman and gave them responsibility. He wanted them to grow through a period of growth and fulfill that responsibility, become children who loved God. They were to be the first ancestors of humankind, but God’s plan was frustrated, But God went through painful history of providence of restoration through indemnity, God raised the people of Israel over 4,000 years, and sent Jesus. But people of his time could not understand his mission, and Jesus was unable to fulfill the purpose for which he came. When he was crucified, there was a thief on the left who mocked Jesus, and a thief on the right who supported Jesus and declared him innocent. Jesus said to him, “You shall come with me to paradise.”
Mother explained that paradise was where Jesus must go pending the opening of the kingdom of heaven by the True Parents who would hold the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. This would require the only begotten son to meet the only begotten daughter, and then as True Parents, bring people to receive the Blessing of God and be reborn. Humanity yearns to live in communion with God.
Mother explained that Christianity was profoundly persecuted but later spread throughout Europe, and that the center of civilization reached Great Britain. Britain developed but, not understanding God properly, instead of living for others they conquered others and took things away from their colonies. Africa suffered the most. Even though these were believers who began in the name of Christianity, they failed to love the nations they colonized. In the end the accompanying Atlantic civilization ended, and Korea was selected as the nation to which the Retuning Lord and his Bride would come. Mother explained that through their marriage she and Father became the True Parents. However, though Christians have waited for the returning Lord, they have not understood. They have prepared for this time but not yet awakened.
Mother then spoke about Africa, saying: “Africa will become the light of the world. Africa is the blessed continent, the shining light. And today with the heart of a True Mother I have come to pray and eradicate the historical pain that this continent has suffered, and begin a new history.”
Mother mentioned choosing Senegal as she could feel the Senegalese people were a peace-loving people, and the president a prepared person. “Centering on this continent and nation, I would like to begin an era centering on altruism, living for the sake of others, an era of peace, equality, happiness—the kingdom of heaven on earth. Let’s work together to realize this ideal.” Mother went on to mention she would like to establish an international highway project from South Africa to Senegal and then on to Europe and the rest of the world.
She concluded by saying, “I believe Africa can accomplish this, and that is why Africa is the first continent in the world. Africa has the potential to become the original healthy, kingdom of God and the environment that God wanted to see. Beloved heads of states let us work hand in hand as one family, and realize one family under God. This is my hope and ardent request.”
Beautiful bouquets of flowers were presented to True Mother as she concluded her speech.
Before President Sall came to the podium to speak, a short video presentation about his life’s work, with an emphasis on his vision for thriving pluralistic society, and his initiatives for peace, was screened.
On behalf of the Universal Peace Federation, True Mother and Dr. Walsh then presented President Sall with a good governance award—in the form of a framed certificate and medal—after which President Sall came to the podium and spoke to the international delegates and guests.
President Sall expressed his gratitude that all had come to share in this vision through dialogue and in respect for diversity. “Senegal shares this vision and that is why we welcome you here and thank you for coming to the land of Teranga [the Wolof language word for hospitality, for which the Senegalese are well known]. Please stay in Senegal!”
President Sall specifically paid tribute to “Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of UPF, and to Hak Ja Han Moon for carrying on his work,” and thanked True Mother for coming to Africa and speaking.
He congratulated UPF Chairman Dr. Thomas Walsh for “making peace and dialogue the basic principle of human relations.” He thanked UPF for the bestowment of the honor of the good governance award: “I take this as encouragement in our shared ideal toward common good.” He expressed gratitude you for the monetary gift, which he said he would devote part of to helping handicapped children. It is significant, perhaps, that one of the first projects our early missionaries undertook was one to teach skills, such as sewing, to disabled people so that they would have a chance to earn a living.
After President Sall expressed his gratitude for the Little Angels, and for their performance of Senegalese songs, he spoke about the path toward peace; how its absence is evidenced in the ruins of houses, through blood that has been shed, and through the tears of devastated people. The silence of good people is a problem: nothing is more harmful to the cause of peace than silence, apathy and resignation. That is why were are here today.
President Sall spoke about how his nation’s population of mixed religions, including Islam, Christianity and traditional faiths, live together in peace. He read from various scriptures, including the Koran, 5:32 “The one who will save the life of one man will be the savior of humankind.” And he gave examples from history where the people of one faith sheltered those of another from harm.
But President Sall did not omit to mention that there are those who apply an abusive interpretation of the Divine Word for other goals.
He went on to say that the continent of Africa, which has been traumatized by colonialism and slavery for centuries, must itself now stand up against racism. He looked forward, he said, to a new Africa based on the qualities of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values (quoting the Summit’s theme). He further expressed his belief in an Africa able to take care of itself, that thinks and acts for herself. Despite its history, Africa is stable, active, diligent. She must affirm herself as an actor, define the dynamism of today and the future. In that light the president mentioned the remarkable resources Africa has, in terms of precious metals and minerals, but emphasized also the quality and youthfulness of its peoples. In terms of its resources, both material and human, Africa is by no means poor.
Thanking True Mother once more, President Sall then declared the first summit open.
With that, he concluded his remarks, and the MC invited President Sall and True Mother to be the first to leave the stage as lunch was prepared. As people stood and applauded, one could feel a sense of anticipation that this day was a gateway to new possibilities and that here is a continent that really could be the first in the world to fully grasp the opportunities of the present time.