Free download: English Speech. Title: An Opening/Address Speech by the President of Indonesia, Ir. Soekarno, at the Asian – African Conference (Bandung, 17th – 24th April, 1955). File: pdf. Date of speech: 17th April, 1955. Source: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Indonesia (sous la dir.). ‘Asia-Africa speak from Bandung’. Djakarta: 1955, p. 19-29. Re-upload by: har.
An Opening/Address Speech by the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Ir. Soekarno, at the Asian – African Conference (Bandung, 17th – 24th April, 1955)
Ladies and Gentlemen, Sisters and Brothers.
It is my great honour and privilege on this historic day to bid you welcome to Indonesia. On behalf of the people and government of Indonesia – your hosts – I beg your understanding and forbearance if some circumstances in our country do not meet your expectation. We have, I assure you, done our best to make your stay amongst us memorable for both our guests and your hosts. We hope that the warmth of our welcome will compensate for whatever material shortcomings there may be.
As I survey this hall and the distinguished guests gathered here, my heart is filled with emotion. This is the first intercontinental conference of coloured peoples in the history of mankind! I am proud that my country is your host. I am happy that you were able to accept the invitations extended by the Five Sponsoring Countries. But also I cannot restrain feelings of sadness when I recall the tribulations through which many of our peoples have so recently passed, tribulations which have exacted a heavy toll in life, in material things, and in the things of the spirit.
I recognise that we are gathered here today as a result of sacrifices. Sacrifices made by our forefathers and by the people of our own and younger generations. For me, this hall is filled not only by the leaders of the nations of Asia and Africa; it also contains within its walls the undying, the indomitable, the invincible spirit of those who went before us. Their struggle and sacrifice paved the way for this meeting of the highest representatives of independent and sovereign nations from two of the biggest continents of the globe.
It is a new departure in the history of the world that leaders of Asian and African peoples can meet together in their own countries to discuss and deliberate upon matters of common concern. Only a few decades ago it was frequently necessary to travel to other countries and even other continents before the spokesmen of our peoples could confer.
I recall in this connection the Conference of the “League Against Imperialism and Colonialism” which was held in Brussels almost thirty years ago. At that Conference many distinguished Delegates who are present here today met each other and found new strength in their fight for independence.
But that was a meeting place thousands of miles away, amidst foreign people, in a foreign country, in a foreign continent. It was not assembled there by choice, but by necessity.
Today the contrast is great. Our nations and countries are colonies no more. Now we are free, sovereign and independent. We are again masters in our own house. We do not need to go to other continents to confer.
Already there have been important meetings of Asian States in Asia itself.
If we look for the forerunner of this our great gathering, we must look to Colombo, capital of independent Çri Lanka, and to the Conference of the five Prime Ministers which was held there in 1954. And the Bogor Conference in December 1954 showed that the road ahead was clear for Asian-African solidarity, and the Conference to which I have the honour of welcoming you today is the realisation of that solidarity.
Indeed, I am proud that my country is your host.
But my thoughts are not wholly of the honour which is Indonesia’s today. No. My mind is for a part darkened by other considerations.
You have not gathered together in a world of peace and unity and cooperation. Great chasms yawn between nations and groups of nations. Our unhappy world is torn and tortured, and the peoples of all countries walk in fear lest, through no fault of theirs, the dogs of war are unchained once again.
And if in spite of all that the peoples may do, this should happen. What then? What of our newly-recovered independence then? What of our children and our parents ?
The burden of the delegates to this Conference is not a light one, for I know that these questions – which are questions of the life or death of humanity itself – must be on your minds, as they are on mine. And the nations of Asia and Africa cannot, even if they wish to, avoid their part in finding solutions to these problems….
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