Ambassador Young's Speech at 2023 U.S. National Day Celebrations
Life, Liberty and Happiness – National Day June 8, 2023
Good evening everyone! Moni nonse!
It is wonderful to have you here to join us for our evening celebration of two important American holidays – Independence Day and Juneteenth. For years citizens of the United States have celebrated our independence as a nation on July 4, commemorating the signing in 1776 of the Declaration of Independence, which proudly and prophetically stated that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Today we are celebrating those rights, which are the birthright and aspiration of every human being around the world. Here in Malawi, as well as in the United States of America.
We do so consciously by combining our newest American holiday, Juneteenth, with Independence Day. This is because the promise of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” has only slowly and fitfully been made good over centuries and after decades of struggle and yearning for justice. In 1776 “all men” referred to white men of European descent who owned property, and of course as we know tragically, many of their (quote) “property” were human beings of African descent who had been taken to America as slaves. It took a Civil War, decades of campaigning against slavery and for civil rights, and numerous acts of courage and commitment by countless individuals for us as a nation to begin to make real these promises of our founding creeds. So in a real sense, it is altogether appropriate that we celebrate Independence Day and Juneteenth together – and that we can proudly proclaim that ALL repeat ALL men AND women are created equal, and ALL people deserve their fundamental rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
This evening we are celebrating these rights, and in one sense, these rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness frame the entire relationship of friendship and partnership between the United States and Malawi.
Our two countries are truly Pachibale – friends who are like family.
America ndi Malawi ndi Pachibale!
You may ask, how can you be Pachibale when we see newspaper headlines that we sometimes disagree. Well, think about it for a moment: do any of you live in a family where everyone agrees with all the others every moment of every day? Does being close family mean you are exactly the same and think and feel exactly the same? Does being in a close family mean you don’t speak your honest feelings and share your hopes and dreams, your joys and concerns? I don’t think so. The people I love the most are the people whom I am most honest with. That is Pachibale.
As we have experienced this evening through inspirational music and video, the fundamental program of partnership between the United States and Malawi for the past 20 years has been the PEPFAR program, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Today more than 1 million Malawians are alive because of our cooperation together since 2003. Working in close partnership with the Malawian government and its public health workers, civil society groups, religious organizations, the Global Fund, UNAIDS and others, PEPFAR has helped transform Africa over two decades.
As we heard Tay Grin and Sangie sing to each other, today if you get tested and then if you are HIV positive you take your prescription medication every day, you can live a long life of dignity. Ndizotheka! It is possible! That is truly a miracle.
So Life itself is at the core of what our work together is about. America ndi Malawi ndi Pachibale.
In the same way, Liberty is fundamental to what the United States and Malawi work on together. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, each human being is endowed with political and civil rights, as well as economic and social rights.
Both America and Malawi are vibrant democracies, with fundamental freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly and the rule of law enshrined in our constitutions. We each strive to guarantee and practice these rights so that all the women and men, and girls and boys in our nations can lead lives as empowered citizens. The work that our countries do together to strengthen democratic systems and electoral bodies, to improve governance and to fight corruption – all these are programs to expand and ensure Liberty for citizens in both our nations.
In addition to political rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us that economic and social rights are critical to people’s self fulfilment and dignity. Gandhi said that poverty is the worst form of violence. So freedom from poverty also has to be core to what we do together in partnership.
One can make the strong case that the fundamental challenge for Malawi today is to grow its economy – to grow it quickly and dramatically. Malawi’s population will double in the next two decades. By 2050 there will be 40 million Malawians in this land. The economy today is not growing; that means that on average people are getting poorer today.
Moving forward to grow the economy requires private companies being at the forefront of dramatically expanding trade and investment. And that requires policies and incentives that attract greater private sector engagement. That is Malawi’s best anti-poverty program. The private sector needs to be seen not as an enemy, as some suspiciously do, but as a full ally to expand the economic cake and create good jobs so that people can rise out of poverty. Together the U.S. and Malawi need to work to improve the business climate and engagement with private sector firms so the economy can grow. Economic Liberty is key to a better future.
Here again: America ndi Malawi ndi Pachibale.
Finally, the Declaration of Independence talks about the pursuit of Happiness. Being happy and fulfilled is a fundamental aspiration of all people. We find joy in family and friends, in leisure time and fun activities with our loved ones.
Tonight we are blessed to gather in this beautiful country. We gather to celebrate Life and Liberty. We celebrate friendship and community. We celebrate the amazing artistry of Tim Davis and Charles Philippe Jean-Pierre and their passion for freedom, for liberty and for true community. We celebrate the joyous gifts of Skeffa, Sangie, Tay Grin, Suffix, Praise Umali, Maggie Kadrum, Esther Chitheka Lewis, Paul Kachala, and Tapps Bandawe. When we think of happiness we celebrate good food, including the best mandazi in all of Lilongwe, brought to you tonight straight out of area 18 by Mayi Margaret.
And the one last thing I would say about Happiness. Happiness is best lived out in community. And that is based on one fundamental principle that is found in all religions and belief systems.
That is the principle of Love Your Neighbor. The world is a magnificently diverse place, with more than 8 billion people in nearly 200 countries around this glober, and with the challenges of climate change, global pandemics, migration and economic interdependence, we know better than ever that we literally will have to learn to swim together — or we will sink together.
Love Your Neighbor has to be foundational. All of us are stronger when we celebrate the full rights and the value of all people without discrimination. As neighbors in a global community, we will not always agree, but we should be compassionate to those who are different than we are. Criminalizing differences does not advance Life, Liberty nor Happiness.
We must love our neighbors and respect each other’s pursuit of happiness. That is the spirit of Ubuntu: I am because we are.
So tonight, as we celebrate the great Pachibale partnership between the United States and Malawi, let’s remember to work for more fulsome Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness for all women, men, girls and boys in our countries.
In that spirit, please join me in a toast to the good health and well being of His Excellency President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera and to the Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness of all the people of Malawi.
America ndi Malawi ndi Pachibale! Cheers!