Mr. President and Madame Kikwete,
Vice President Bilal and Madame Bilal,
Prime Minister Pinda and Madame Pinda,
Ministers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I cannot tell you how delighted my wife and I are to have been invited to visit Tanzania to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of your independence. It is my third visit, but my darling wife’s first and thus particularly special for us both. You very kindly, Mr. President, mentioned the message from the Head Warden at the Serengeti and I am very grateful indeed for such a kind invitation because that was where I took both my sons a long time ago. And that, I think, is one of the reasons why they have fallen in love with Africa. We are enormously grateful to you, Mr. President, for the warmth of your welcome and the generosity of your hospitality.
Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, whatever the definition and in whatever field, I think we would all agree that a fiftieth anniversary is very special. It is an age when the wisdom borne of experience helps us put our lives into perspective. It is time for us to reflect on how far we have come. And by we, I mean both our nations, Tanzania and the United Kingdom, joined as we are by the Commonwealth. And I know that you, Mr. President, have only just returned from attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia with Her Majesty The Queen...
We have together travelled those fifty years in partnership. Like any partners, we have had our ups and downs. But we have remained committed to working together because we respect each other, we value our relationship and, above all, because we like working together and, if I may say so, do it rather well!
Our relationship may be a historic one, but it is a very modern one too. Britain has, over the years, been the largest donor to Tanzania, and our current aid budget will increase further over the coming four years. The U.K. remains to this day the biggest source of foreign investment in Tanzania, which has created tens of thousands of jobs in Tanzania. The fact that this investment continues to grow is a testimony to British companies’ confidence in and commitment to this country.
Many have remarked on how Tanzania’s history has been one of remarkable peace and stability, in a world which in the last fifty years has seen so much division and conflict. It is even more remarkable in a country with over a hundred tribes, people of many races, and believers of all faiths and of none. Far from being a source of division, you have made your diversity into a source of strength.
And, of course, much of the credit for this must go to the founding father of this nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. His desire to do the best for his country, his vision of a united Tanzania, was coupled with a deep humility and recognition that all human beings are fallible.
This was the very essence of his beliefs, the heart of his legacy to his people and his continent. It rightly earned him the status of one of the great statesmen of the twentieth century.
During this visit to Tanzania my wife and I will visit not just Dar es Salaam, but also Zanzibar and the North of your country too, where I can only hope that the weather will allow us to see Mount Kilimanjaro, that most iconic of images of Tanzania...!
We are also much looking forward to our visit to Arusha National Park.
But I know that this is only a fraction of the treasures to be discovered in Tanzania. And this again is another part of Mwalimu Nyerere’s remarkable legacy - your priceless National Parks, Game Reserves and Conservation Areas, which contribute so much to the world’s precious biodiversity and to the economy of your country.
We are all indebted to Tanzania and its people for preserving an environmental and species-rich heritage without parallel anywhere else in the world. As someone who has been working on these issues for more than three decades, and as the new President of The World Wildlife Fund in the United Kingdom, I can only congratulate you on all that you have done. I know that this has involved sacrifice and difficult decisions. And I know that things will not get any easier as people quite rightly strive to achieve economic development. But this can be done indeed, it has to be done - in a way which protects and enhances Nature’s capital, without which the kind of capitalism we have come to know will simply not be sustainable in the long-term, nor will it provide the returns we have come to expect. Nature’s crucial services the greatest “utilities” of all must be properly valued and paid for. This is surely more attractive than pitching ourselves into a battle with Nature since, as the effects of climate change become ever-more apparent, this is a battle we are very unlikely to win. There is an urgent need, it seems to me, for the private, public and N.G.O. sectors to work ever more closely in partnership to ensure the future resilience and security of our water, agriculture, forestry and energy suplies. Without this, our national and international security will be jeopardized, together with the lives and futures of our children and grandchildren.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I ask you to join me in a toast to your health Mr. President and Mrs. Kikwete, and to the health and wellbeing of the people of the United Republic of Tanzania.