Address of the German Ambassador at the reception on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of German Reunification on October 3rd 2016 in Kampala
Tonight, we celebrate the Day of German Unity. In the 19th century, unity was one of the three postulations against the monarchical system dominating Germany at the time, three postulations reflected in the first words of our national anthem you just heard, written in 1841: “Unity and Justice and Freedom for the German fatherland”. Delusions and confusions of history – of the Germans themselves - wanted that unity was won and lost and then eventually regained only 150 years later, in 1990. That was a moment of unprecedented joy in German history.
Notwithstanding this paramount importance of unity for the German people, it is actually variety, diversity, plurality, multiplicity which is the key feature of Germany, and was, all through her history. And tonight, we want to present to you this Germany in her variety. You just passed through our exposition in the upper garden where we tried to convey to you an impression of the diversity of nature and culture in Germany, of our landscapes, our monuments and of our cultural heroes. How do we look onto this heritage today?
Ever since the German people as a graspable entity stepped into the limelight of history some 1100 years ago, within this German identity they have managed to maintain their regional and local, cultural and tribal diversity. The structure of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation within which the German people lived for nine hundred years was favorable to this preservation of plurality because it never aspired to become a nation state nor had that been possible. At times, Germany was composed of more than three hundred sovereign states! Imagine that you had to pass no less than eighty custom facilities going from East to West in Germany! Germans had to wait until 1871 for the first time to be united in one state.
Even then, people were afraid of centralism. How could the age old quest of German tribes, of regions, of princes, dukes and knights, of imperial cities and even imperial villages for independence or at least autonomy, indelibly routed in the collective memory of the Germans, be reconciled with unity? The German answer is federalism. Federalism may not be popular everywhere, but in Germany it certainly has a positive connotation. Federalism stands for freedom and prosperity. In today’s Germany, we have sixteen federal states. On numerous fields, they can handle their own affaires: health, education, social welfare, economic development. They have their own taxes, and they get a share of national taxes.
The idea behind federal freedom is participation. If you can participate in determining the affairs of your community, then you will engage. If you engage you contribute. The more people contribute the more potential of a state is being tapped. Therefore, participation is needed in every field and on every level, in all segments of society. It is needed in the public sector: Only a civil servant who is allowed to participate in designing the policy in his field of work will assume responsibility. A company rewarding employees for making the company’s success their own, for engaging in its business with proposals and criticism, such a company will be more successful than its competitors. A teacher in school given the freedom to inspire his pupils, and a pupil given the freedom to develop his own skills by asking and acting, they will both be happier and more successful.
Thus, participation promotes freedom and prosperity by engaging the citizen and leaving space for individual self-fulfillment. However, federalism needs to be balanced out. We do not wish ourselves back to the times when we had three hundred German states, and today we have a discussion if even sixteen German states are really necessary and viable. There must be a balance between efficiency of the administration and the appeal for citizens to participate. Each generation has to strike the right balance anew.
Our topic tonight is variety, and when it comes to variety no one equals Uganda. The variety of Ugandan nature, with her high mountains and volcanoes, with the great lakes and the great river Nile, with jungles and savannahs, wetlands and drylands, with gorillas and chimps, the African big five, birds and so many other creatures – this variety is unmatched. And above all: The Ugandan people are of an astonishing diversity, with dozens of peoples reflecting all big language families of Africa in north and south, east, west and, of course, the center of the country.
How is this Uganda coping with the challenge of reconciling unity and diversity? History, I am afraid, did not favor Uganda as did nature. The Ugandan people did not find together on an equal footing but were patched together by external force in colonial times, and after independence they came from smoke to smother. However, somehow Ugandans managed to develop a sense of unity next to their tribal identities which I, as an external observer, find nowhere better reflected than in the beautiful sounds of your national anthem – listening to it, all the diverse people in this country seem to become Ugandans.
And the Ugandan constitution seems to have solved the correlation of central, regional and local entities in a brilliant way. There is the central state, there are five regions, and there are 112 districts. But then, in reality, you don’t find the regions. There is no regional representation and no regional government. There is only the central state and 112 districts. So, is Uganda now comparable to good old Germany with her three hundred sovereign states, or is it, on the contrary, a highly centralized state? Up to the Ugandans to say. I just dare to confess some sympathy for your written constitution, with the five regions in between the central state and the districts.
Also for Uganda, participation is crucial. This is because your biggest asset is, at the same time, your biggest challenge. I mean the young people. Uganda is young, one of the youngest countries in the world. Today’s population of 35 million will double by 2040, might reach 100 million by 2050 and 200 million by the end of the century. However correct these predictions might be, the trend is undeniable. These young people have an incredible energy, and this energy needs to be channeled, first to education and then into work which poses an enormous challenge to the absorption capacity of schools, universities and the labor market. Not to idle around, not to the street! They need a chance to participate, and Uganda needs them because Uganda’s growth decisively depends on the contribution of each and every Ugandan, man and woman. Federalism might be one way to enhance this participation.
Germany stands next to Uganda in coping with these challenges. Nothing can demonstrate that better than the fact that we host two German delegations here tonight. I would like to welcome our economic delegation from Bavaria, and the Bavarian Ministry for economy and media, energy and technology which is our main partner in organizing this event tonight. Thank you for bringing beautiful Bavaria to Uganda tonight, Mr. Rieger! And for bringing Bavarian companies along. Welcome to you as well.
Then I want to welcome our delegation from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development which has come for government negotiations this week. Welcome, Mr. Mohs! In this context I would like to thank Ugandan ministries and offices as well as our institutions - KfW, GIZ, political foundations, Goethe-Center, DAAD - for their tireless contribution to our common goals for transition and development in Uganda. My appreciation goes to NGOs, churches and hundreds of private initiatives on the economic, social and cultural fields binding together Ugandans and Germans and constituting the solid base of our friendship. Thank you all for this.
The deep and lasting friendship between Uganda and Germany is also manifested by our regional cooperation. We thank Ugandans, especially the UPDF, for their sacrifices in Somalia. We have German soldiers in Mogadishu training Ugandan soldiers, and we have Ugandan soldiers in Mogadishu protecting their German comrades there. Tuliwo ku lwamwe namwe muliwo ku lwaffe. Obumu gemanyi agali awamu ge’galuma enyama.
And we are united by common attitudes. Both Uganda and Germany have to cope with an enormous influx of refugees and chose not to duck but to give them shelter. When it comes to integration we all look at Uganda as a role model. Ebbanga lyemaze mu Uganda, njize nti banauganda bagaala ate era baniiriza nyo abagenyi; mwebale nyo okunjagala ne banange bonna abagirimani.
Liebe Landsleute, Ihnen ganz besonders wünsche ich alles Gute zu unserem Nationalfeiertag! Lassen Sie sich Bier und Weißwurst schmecken!
Many have contributed to making this reception for the 26th anniversary of German reunification in Uganda possible. My thanks go to the Government of Bavaria and to our great Bavarian companies, Gauff, Mühlbauer and Veridos who all have generously supported our event tonight. And to Brussels Airlines for bringing the Bavarian beer to us!
Great thanks also goes to our musicians tonight. You have already heard DJane Rachael and our Bavarian brass band “Bavarian Lions”, and more is to come with Deena, our German musician singing in Luganda, and with the famous Afrigo Band!
Many creative ideas and a lot of craftsmanship were needed for our exhibition. Back in Europe, the Alps needed 290 million years to come into existence, and Alex Kwizera created them in just ten days! Thank you Alex. Thank you, too, to Sulaiman Kakande for all the carpentry work, to tailoress Jackie Twongirwe, to Brian Azaga, to graphic designer Moses Kayoshe, and last but not least to curator Robinah Nansubuga.
Please allow me, too, to thank my own embassy team for its great energy and enthusiasm which has made this event possible!
Long live Uganda and her president, long live Germany and her president, long live the Ugandan-German friendship