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African statesman shapes the continent's approach to peace and security
2 December 2014

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Good leadership is essential for durable peace. Salim Ahmed Salim exemplifies ethical and visionary African leadership. His tireless service helped liberate Africa from colonialism and set a course for the continent’s approach to peace, democracy, regional integration and African unity.

The former prime minister of Tanzania, secretary-general of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and member of the African Union’s Panel of the Wise was honoured at a celebration on Tuesday 2 December 2014 at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Jakkie Cilliers, Executive Director of the ISS welcomed members of the diplomatic community, the AU and civil society. ‘We are honoured to celebrate the contribution of Dr Salim and hope, in a small way, to pay tribute to the role he has played in Tanzania, Addis Ababa and continentally.’ The AU in collaboration with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), ACCORD, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, and the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation paid tribute to Salim – wise man, freedom fighter and defender of peace and justice.

Addressing over 200 participants in the Mandela Hall at the AU Conference Centre, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission (AUC), acknowledged Salim’s inspirational role for all African citizens. ‘You inspired pride and dignity in many of us’, she said in her opening remarks.

‘Your landmark report in 1990 on the fundamental changes taking place in the global landscape and their implications for Africa became the road map for what’s been done since.’

Dlamini Zuma noted that most of the priorities that are now included in the AU’s Peace and Security Council architecture and African governance architecture stem from Salim’s achievements as secretary general of the OAU.

When he took up leadership of the continental body in 1989, the end of the Cold War had weakened many African governments and triggered a resurgence of internal conflicts. The demand for political freedoms placed Africa on a new path, and created new challenges for the OAU.

‘We learned a lot from you about negotiations and conflict resolution’, said the AUC Chairperson about this period. Salim’s belief in accurate and independent information about conflict situations, and his expertise as a peacemaker enabled the continent to navigate this turbulent period. ‘Today we are celebrating one of our finest sons of the soil … a pan-Africanist,’ she underlined.

Dignitaries and close associates recalled Salim’s extraordinary career. At just 17 years old he helped establish and lead the All Zanzibari National Student Organisation and would later become a leading figure in the Zanzibari liberation movement.

During the 10 years he served as permanent representative of Tanzania’s delegation to the United Nations he steered the UN decolonisation committee, and helped defeat colonialism in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Principe, and Zimbabwe. The triumph in these countries laid the foundation for the liberation of Namibia and South Africa.

Salim’s role in defeating colonialism and apartheid define his contribution both then and now. ‘You instilled pride in us as Africans, said Dlamini Zuma. ‘You argued for the importance of Africans relying on themselves; of looking after themselves with the help of others.’

These principles remain relevant, for Salim and for Africa. ‘Tackling our continent’s challenges requires the same approach as that which we used to defeat colonialism and apartheid,’ said Salim in his keynote address. ‘An approach characterised by resilience and determination, unity and cohesion among Africans, and the support and solidarity of the international community.’

For more information, contact:

  • Dr Jakkie Cilliers, Executive Director, Institute for Security Studies (ISS), +251 921 378 311,
  • Mrs. Esther Azaa Tankou, Directorate of Information and Communication, African Union Commission (AUC), +251 911 3611 85,
About the Institute for Security Studies

The ISS is an African organisation that aims to enhance human security on the continent. It does independent and authoritative research, provides expert policy analysis and advice, and delivers practical training and technical assistance.