For the first time in UN history, the pan-Africanist president made a courageous speech to world leaders in an African language: the Luganda dialect, on October 1st, 1975 in New York.
It was named one of the top ten most memorable moments in the history of the United Nations General Assembly by Time magazine. Not because of the linguistic choice, but because of the content’s audacity and the way it influenced world relations, particularly with Africa.
Many of the continent’s leaders left New York emboldened by Amin’s fiery speech after the meeting.
President Amin addressed on behalf of the entire continent as Chairman of the OAU (now the African Union).
He took a strong stance against Zionism, which the United Nations characterized as racist. He also opposed neocolonialism in Africa, racism against black people in the United States, and the Western imperialist agenda that exploited Africa, its people, and its resources.
For the first time in UN history, pan-Africanist president Idi Amin Dada chose to make a daring statement to world leaders in an African language: the Luganda dialect, on October 1st, 1975 in New York.
President Amin then reaffirmed an African Union decision passed three months earlier, calling for a joint African military force to rescue Southern Africa from colonialism and apartheid if necessary.
Following that announcement, the colonialists buckled under the weight of African political pressure. Field Marshal Idi Amin Dada was responsible for the independence of six African countries that year.
Angola, the Comoro Islands, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, Cap Verde, and Djibouti were among the countries freed by Idi Amin Dada.
President Idi Amin called to the CIA as a Zionist-infiltrated “murder squad” when referring to the killing of Pan-African hero Patrice Lumumba.
“Anyone who challenged US expansionism in Africa was killed,” according to Amin. He also thanked the Soviet Union and China for assisting African independence movements.
The United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim and the President of the General Assembly hosted a public banquet in Amin’s honor the following day. The occasion was well-attended by foreign diplomats.
This infuriated Western nations, particularly racist Britain, which at the time wholeheartedly supported South Africa’s Apartheid dictatorship.
The 700 Club’s famed tele-evangelist Pat Robertson wrote in a remark criticizing the UN:
“When Amin arrived, the UN General Assembly gave him a standing ovation, applauded him throughout his address, and rose to its feet again when he left.”
BELOW IS THE FULL PUBLICATION BY NEW YORK TIMES:
UNITED NATIONS. N. Y., Oct. 1 —President Idi Amin of Uganda, in a visit to the United Nations today, appealed to the American people “to rid their society of the Zionists.”
In a long message to the General Assembly, delivered in President Amin’s presence by his chief delegate to the United Nations, Khalid Younis Kinene, he asserted that the United States had been “colonized by the Zionists.”
The Uganda President also called for expulsion of Israel from the United Nations and for the “extinction of Israel as a state.”
Earlier in his message, President Amin paid tribute to the American Revolution as an inspiration to the third world. He also expressed gratitude to President Ford and Congress for their “changed attitude” toward developing countries, as evidenced in the recent Special Session of the General Assembly on Development and International Economic Cooperation.
Speaking as chairman of the Organization of African Unity, General Amin appealed to the United Nations to “help us spare blood” in southern Africa by backing the fight for liberty and independence of black people in South Africa, Rhodesia and Namibia, or SouthWest Africa.
While Uganda’s chief delegate read the long message in English, President Amin sat in a beige armchair on the rostrum. He wore a gold embroidered dark green uniform with the insignia of the British Victoria Cross and many medals and held a red and gold marshal’s baton.
He received a standing ovation when protocol officers led him into the Assembly hall.
President Amin raised his hand in sign of salute and stepped to the lectern to say a few words in Luganda, a Uganda tribal language. According to a translation, he said he did not want to speak in a “foreign language,” and therefore had asked his chief delegate to read his message.
After his 90‐minute message had been read, President Amin stepped forward and delivered an improvised speech in British‐accented English.
On behalf of 46 independent African member states, he said, he wanted to inform the Assembly that “we, are not racists.” He added: “Nobody should tell you Africans are against whites.” He lashed out against the South African “racist regime” which, he declared is “stealing the gold, the diamonds of Africa.”
‘Work With Entire World’
To repeated applause from Africans and some other delegates, President Amin affirmed that “we want to work with the entire world community,” Europeans, Asians and Americans.
At the end of his 10‐minute impromptu remarks, President Amin received another ovation.
In the statement read by the Uganda delegate, President Amin said he wanted the world to know that Africans were not only against “colonialism, neocolonialism and Zionism,” but also against hunger and other social scourges.
He said he wanted “to pay a compliment” to the Portuguese military movement that assumed power last year because it had pursued “progressive policies.”
On behalf of the Organization of African Unity, the Uganda President said the regional group would spare no effort to bring about a reconciliation of the warring liberation movements in Angola.
As to southern Africa President Amin said that if independence from “racist” governments could not be obtained by peaceful means “there can be no other alternative than to achieve independence on the battlefield.”
He expressed gratitude to the Soviet Union and China for helping African liberation struggles. There mild be no compromise with apartheid, the South African system of racial separation, President Amin dedared. “It must be buried,” and South Africa should be deprived of United Nations membership, he said.
After discussing the Middle East, he warned Americans that “Zionists” were wielding power in all banking institutions, communications and other key structures of United States society. He also criticized what he described as the “atrocious role of the United States Central Intelligence Agency.”
He said Zionists had infiltrated the C.I.A. and turned it into a “murder squad” to eliminate any form of resistance anywhere in the world.
The Uganda President said he personally, liked Jews, “but I don’t approve “of Zionism.”
He praised the contribution of black Americans who he said, had done as much, as if not more than any other group of citizens in building a great nation.
A black man in the visitors’ gallery started applauding, and a United Nations security guard cautioned him to remain quiet.
President Amin coupled his call for the extinction of Israel with an expression of hope that Palestinian sovereignty might be restored, and that Jerusalem would be revered by Moslems, Christians and Jews throughout the world as a holy place.
The chief United States delegate, Daniel P. Moynihan, was absent during President Amin’s appearance. The highest ranking member of the American delegation attending was Clarence M. Mitchell Jr., an official of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The British chief delegate, Ivor Richard, walked out of the hall when President Amin started discussing conditions in Britain and Northern Ireland.
Israeli representatives who had listened to most of the President’s statement left the hall when he called for the “extinction” of their country. Israel’s chief delegate, Chaim Herzog, who did not attend the session, later termed President Amin’s address a “disgraceful exhibition, a sad commentary on what has happened to the U. N.”
Earlier today, the Assembly without a vote accepted the credentials of all delegations, including Israel’s. In doing so, the Assembly followed recommendations of its nine‐country credentials committee, which met on Monday.
President Amin arrived at Kennedy International Airport early this afternoon accompanied by numerous aides, by one of his wives, Sarah, a 19‐year‐old former member of the Uganda Armed Forces’ “Suicide Squad,” whom he married earlier this year, and two small sons by other wives.
Later, he dedicated a plaque for a $45‐million Uganda Mission building to be constructed at East 45th Street, near First Avenue. The site, adjoining the United States mission, has been used as a parking lot, Uganda bought it 12 years ago.