Kenya's ambassador at the United Nations has received widespread praise for a speech he made about the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
Martin Kimani condemned Russia and urged the country to pursue peace in a powerful speech in which he spoke about Africa's colonial past and warned of the dangers of returning to "new forms of domination and oppression".
"Kenya and almost every African country was birthed by the ending of empire. Our borders were not of our own drawing, they were drawn in the distant colonial metropoles of London, Paris and Lisbon, with no regard for the ancient nations that they cleaved apart.
"Today across the border of every single African country live our countrymen with whom we share deep historical cultural and linguistic bonds.
If you're gonna listen to any speech about #Ukraine , let it be this one.\n\nThe Kenya ambassador to the UNSC perfectly explains how people across Africa understand Ukraine, and what the Kremlin's acts of aggression mean in our post-colonial world.pic.twitter.com/0gTuAni0DC— Thomas van Linge (@Thomas van Linge) 1645503972
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"At independence had we chosen to pursue states on the basis of ethnic, racial or religious homogeneity, we would still be waging bloody wars these many decades later.
"Instead we agreed that we would settle for the borders that we inherited but we would still pursue continental political economic and legal integration rather than form nations that looked every backward into history with a dangerous nostalgia, we chose to look forwards to a greatness none of our many nations and peoples had ever known."
He added that this settlement was agreed not because the "borders satisfied us but because we wanted something greater forged in peace." Kimani also said that while they understood the desire for "integration" it should not be "pursued by force".
He continued: "We believe that all states formed from empires that have collapsed or retreated have many peoples in them yearning for integration with peoples in neighbouring states. This is normal and understandable, after all, who does not want to be joined to their brethren and to make common purpose with them.
"However Kenya regrets such a yearning from being pursued by force. We must complete our recovery from the embers of dead empires in a way that does not plunge us back into new forms of domination and oppression.
"We rejected irredentism and expansionism on any basis including racial, ethnic, religious or cultural factors. We reject it again today."
It comes as Russian president Vladimir Putin has dispatched troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, after recognising them as independent states.
While Russia said the troops would be "peacekeeping", the US slammed it as "nonsense" and accused the country of creating a pretext for war.
The UK, European Union and the United States have all said they will impose economic sanctions on Russia and the world watches to see what will happen next and also offers some unhelpful hot takes.
After the UN met to discuss the issue, Kimani's speech went viral and has received some 666,000 views from one account posting alone at the time of writing. Reacting to it, people praised the ambassador for his intervention:
Kenya offers the darkest and most poetic intervention so far: "We meet tonight on the brink of a major conflict. \u2026 diplomacy is failing \u2026 territorial integrity of Ukraine stands breached... Multilateralism lies on its deathbed tonight."pic.twitter.com/p7FQAuBVVX— John Hudson (@John Hudson) 1645498510
This is inspiring. The best expression of acceptance of borders and the rejection of Russia\u2019s violent occupation on spurious grounds.\n\nAs Kenya\u2019s diplomat explains, Russia is looking backwards and will fail.https://twitter.com/thomasvlinge/status/1495978202728210435\u00a0\u2026— Tom Tugendhat (@Tom Tugendhat) 1645521639
Kenya makes strong statement opposing the undermining of the sovereignty & territorial integrity of #Ukraine during the emergency meeting of the #SecurityCouncil at 9pm on 21st February. See full statement delivered below pic.twitter.com/3S36UNW7OE— Permanent Mission of Kenya to the UN \ud83c\uddf0\ud83c\uddea \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf3 (@Permanent Mission of Kenya to the UN \ud83c\uddf0\ud83c\uddea \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf3) 1645500553
Kenya has one of the best speeches at the UN Ukraine meet so far, I think it\u2019s wise to make the colonial connection— Jane Lytvynenko (@Jane Lytvynenko) 1645498403
Kenya's speech at the UN Security Counsel was genuinely spellbinding. Legitimately one of the best speeches I have ever heard from a diplomat.— Vaush (@Vaush) 1645501470
Kenya\u2019s speech to the UN Security Council is awesome. Calling Russia out that even Kenya (ravaged by colonialism) isn\u2019t engaging in wars to draws lines in the sand based on ethnicity and ancient history.— Ben Galicki (@Ben Galicki) 1645498453
Kenya with a solid contribution at UNSC, reminding lots states were formed from collapsed empires, leaving divided peoples, and most others have not succumbed to the \u201cyearning\u201d to use force to redraw borders by invading neighbors. Also argues how the rules benefit everyone.— Molly McKew (@Molly McKew) 1645498595
"We must complete our recovery from the embers of dead empires in a way that does not plunge us back into new forms of domination and oppression"\n\nA remarkable speech on Ukraine by Kenya's Ambassador to the United Nations.pic.twitter.com/GOvjOjCZ5C— Richard Chambers (@Richard Chambers) 1645522150
Kenya wins the best #UNSC speech on Ukraine .pic.twitter.com/hvFn3KOAZL— Velina Tchakarova (@Velina Tchakarova) 1645513260
Wow. Kenya summing up the Ukraine situation with deadly clarity. Strong stuff.https://twitter.com/KenyaMissionUN/status/1495963864004976645\u00a0\u2026— Ruth Davidson (@Ruth Davidson) 1645519250
Also at the UN, Ukraine’s permanent representative, Sergiy Kyslytsya, compared Putin’s decrees recognising separatist regions in Ukraine to one for Georgia in 2008, saying: “The copying machine in the Kremlin works very well. Who is the next among the members of the UN?”
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