Kenya's UN ambassador praised for 'inspiring' speech on Ukraine-Russia crisis

Kenya's UN ambassador praised for 'inspiring' speech on Ukraine-Russia crisis
Kenya ambassador to the UNSC gives speech at UN about Ukraine-Russia crisis

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".

He said:

"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.

Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

"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:

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?”

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)