It is my sincere pleasure to welcome you all to our celebration, to commemorate the independence of the United States of America.
Before I make my remarks, allow me to take this opportunity to thank all the embassy staff who made this event possible. I would like to express my personal appreciation for their efforts and many hours of work that went into the event. And tonight is also the farewell event for three of my officers: Public Affairs Officer Jason Seymour and Security Officer Alonzo Alexander are completing two years in EG. Consul Kamilah Keith is finishing up three years here. They will take with them an appreciation for the complexities of our work together and memories of our strong relationships here. Kami, Jason, and Alonzo—thank you for being part of my team here and working together with me!
And, let me thank our sponsors for this event today. The displays of their projects are outside the doors here. As I said at the groundbreaking for the Gas Mega-Hub at Punta Europa, the U.S. companies here in Equatorial Guinea have assisted in a development of not only the economy but also in education, biodiversity, healthcare, and even in programs countering the global problem of Trafficking in Persons. U.S. companies bring with them an expectation of transparency and fairness in their operations.
You also will see displays from the Bioko Marine Turtle Project and the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program (BBPP). They’ve been in Equatorial Guinea for years and, in a collaboration between UNGE and the U.S. universities of Drexel and Purdue, are preserving the biodiversity of the Bioko island and demonstrating eco-tourism potential for the people of EG.
Some of my colleagues here will note that our 242 years of independence is not much time. And, there are those in the U.S. who will say that U.S. democracy really only took off after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. In the United States in 1968, the year of Equatorial Guinea’s independence, we were at war in Vietnam; we were in a presidential campaign, which saw one of our candidates (Robert Kennedy) shot and killed; Martin Luther King was shot and killed.
Martin Luther King is known around the world for his non-violent struggle for civil rights. But he was more than that. In 1958, he wrote that “True Peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” (Stride Toward Freedom) In 1963, from the Birmingham jail, he wrote “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” And in 1964 during his Nobel acceptance speech, he said that “unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
These quotations are inscribed on his memorial in Washington, DC. Reverend King’s memorial statue faces across the Tidal Basin towards the Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorials, two presidents who laid foundations for our two-party system and other strengths of our democracy, of our governance, of our community established in our years of independence. Reverend King’s messages of justice, democracy, hope, and love, built upon both the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson and the four freedoms declared by President Roosevelt in 1941: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear.
These are the values and reasons for pursuing the goals I have here in Equatorial Guinea, to work with the government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea to expand the democratic space, diversify the economy, and ensure these programs benefit the people of Equatorial Guinea. Our U.S. values speak for themselves and for our collective future.
Finally, once again let me thank you for your attention.