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(1949) Nnamdi Azikiwe Speaks before the British Peace Conference in London

Nigerian independence leader Nnamdi Azikiwe appeared before the Plenary Session of the British Peace Congress held in London on  October 23, 1949.  He used that occasion to educate his audience about Nigeria and Africa. He also used the opportunity to remind the peace advocates that trying to prevent war between the western powers and the Soviet bloc should be only half of their agenda.  If they wanted to create a permanently peaceful world, he argued, they should also support the independence struggles then being waged in Africa.  The text of his speech appears below.

Take a look at the map of Africa. You will notice that its contour presents a shape which reminds one of a ham-bone. To some people this ham-bone has been designed by destiny for the carving knife of European imperialism; to others, it is a question mark which asks whether Europe will act up to its ethical professions of peace and harmony. Yet the paradox of Africa is that its wealth and resources are among the root causes of wars. Since the Berlin Conference, the continent of Africa has been partitioned and dominated by armies of occupation in the guise of political trustees and guardians, represented by the following European countries: Britain, France, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and also the Union of South Africa.

When the Allied Powers sounded the tocsin for World War I, Africa played a leading role not only as supplier of men, materials and money, but as a theatre of war in which German colonialism in the Cameroons, in East Africa, and in South-West Africa was destroyed. Again, when the Allied Nations beat the tom-tom for World War II, the African continent was used by military strategists in order to destroy the Fascist aims of Germany, Italy and Vichy France. It is very significant that in the last two world wars, African peoples were inveigled into participating in the destruction of their fellow human beings on the ground that Kaiserism and Hitlerism must be destroyed in order that the world should be made safe for democracy—a

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