The Missing Headlines: Selected Speeches

The Missing Headlines: Selected Speeches

The Missing Headlines: Selected Speeches

The Missing Headlines: Selected Speeches


Focusing on major world events and themes, this is a selection of speeches by Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the third Commonwealth Secretary-General and the first African holder of the office. They are mainly from his first period of office (1990-1995), and are grouped in themes such as The Changing Commonwealth, Democracy, The Commonwealth and the Making of the New South Africa, Sustainable Development, Development and Democracy in Africa, Nigeria in Transition, Peace and Security in a Pluralistic World, and Toward a Common Humanity.


The speeches and other statements in this collection have been selected mainly from the period of my first five years in office as Commonwealth Secretary-General. the purpose of this introductory essay is to present the background to these statements and to provide the common thread which links them.

I entered the service of the Commonwealth in 1966, having been recruited from the Nigerian Diplomatic Service by Arnold Smith, the first Secretary-General, as one of a nucleus of officers to inaugurate the Secretariat. We were a happy band of pioneers, thrilled in the knowledge that we were the servants of a high cause about to break new ground. Even so, I arrived at the Secretariat with some reservations and even some scepticism about the Commonwealth.

This was hardly remarkable in one of my generation. For my generation of Africans, coming to consciousness in the post-war years, the decisive formative influence was the anti-colonial struggle. We knew precious little about the Commonwealth; it hardly impinged on our lives, except in association with the Empire, and when eventually it began to loom in the media, there was always a whiff of neo-colonialism and Anglo-centricity attached to it. the Commonwealth was then said to be knit by ties of kinship and kingship and it was by no means clear that we too were within the fellowship of those bonds. the Commonwealth appeared to many of my generation as just an extrapolation of the Empire which was going nowhere in particular.

The turning point came in 1961 when the Commonwealth, outraged by the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa the previous year, effectively expelled the apartheid regime from its fold. in procedural terms, apartheid South Africa had withdrawn from the Commonwealth. in real political terms, it had been expelled and that was the fetching point in Africa. the expulsion of South Africa from the Commonwealth was for me the first clear intimation that, properly nurtured, the Commonwealth could help to eradicate the inherited inequities blighting the human condition. the Commonwealth could go somewhere after all. the reservations and scepticism of my youth about the association began to . . .

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