Madame Minister, Members of the Official Delegation of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Representatives from the international diplomatic community, leaders from the religious institutions and civil society, distinguished guests, colleagues and friends
Welcome to the American Embassy and thank you for joining my colleagues and I in our celebration of United States’ Independence Day. I feel blessed to celebrate the anniversary of the independence of my country with you during the holy month of Ramadan. Let me express my best wishes for this time of recommitment to peace and highest values in the four national languages of Mauritania:
(Hassaniya) Erane Embarkine Elkom Remadane Shehr El Mehaba we Essalame
(Pulaar) – Yo allah diabane modone korka mone é o yafo mone
(Soninke) Kharna waga khale koyi ado sine guébou
(Wolof) Nioune wa Ambassadou Amérique Niongui lene di nianal werou kor diou barkel ak andak salam
The author of our Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, who was also our first Secretary of State and the third President, had a vision of an America where all people would truly have “inalienable rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness”. He promoted this vision even as a slave owner himself, knowing that the current reality was far removed from this noble ideal. We, Americans celebrate the anniversary of our independence by recognizing, in part, the progress made in the full realization of this vision, and also how much we still have achieve before the United States becomes a safer society, which is more prosperous and more inclusive.
At the beginning of our democracy, only white male property owners had the right to vote. A country that has limited the vote in this way would not be at all considered today as a democratic country. Slavery was abolished in the United States in 1865, at the end of a Civil War which was primarily fought over the issue of slavery. But in some states, slavery essentially continued for decades even after the official abolition. Women only received the right to vote in 1920. The black citizens in the southern states of the United States, where I come from, only received the opportunity to exercise their voting rights in the mid-1960s. It was just twenty-five years ago; disabled Americans were guaranteed equal access and equal opportunities by law. Today the battle for equal rights in the United States continues in the form the rights for the LGBT community. It is our duty as a nation to fight peacefully to achieve our founding ideals. Justice holds steady, pacifies, and advances society.
Just like Mauritania, the United States is a country where people with diverse backgrounds have come together to build a nation based on common values. And just like in Mauritania, our musical traditions helped us to unite as a people. On May 14, we lost B.B. King, one of our greatest cultural heroes. B.B. King came from a very poor family, of a poor region of one of our poorest states. King has imposed Mississippi Blues onto the nation and even the world. He was immensely influential in bringing together Americans of diverse backgrounds to celebrate life, with its ups and downs. Listening to the music of artists such as El Mauritanian Ould Hadrami and Dimi Mint Abba Meidah and that of Senegalese-Mauritanian artist Baba Maal, I feel how much we Americans, have been influenced by music in this part of the world, which is the true origin of the Blues.
I recently read a textbook known by many young Mauritanians: De la Dune…. Au Fleuve – a French textbook for elementary students. This book offers a wonderful portrait of Mauritania in all its cultural diversity, while focusing on the sharing of common values, which is the strong foundation of the country. I admire how this book reinforces national unity. This year, Mauritania celebrate its 55th anniversary of independence. The United States was the first country to recognize the independence of Mauritania. Today our friendship lasts in word and deed. We have confidence in the future of Mauritania. And we express this confidence in a very concrete way: our new embassy under which is under construction.
I commend the leadership of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in establishing the safety of the Mauritanian people. We have all witnessed the atrocious and murderous events that happened recently in Tunisia, Kuwait, Chad, Egypt, France, the U.S., and Nara in Mali, right on the border with Mauritania . I extend our deepest condolences to our brothers and sisters in these countries and our compatriots in the State of South Carolina. The existence of people who worship evil and death requires constant vigilance by those responsible for the protection of their nations. We have tremendous respect for the Mauritanian Army and the Gendarmerie. I am proud of our successful cooperation with all three pillars of the Mauritanian security: the military, law enforcement, and Ministry of Justice.
The brave soldiers of Mauritania are now preparing to deploy so that the great need for security by their African colleagues can be met. I am speaking of the deployment of a battalion of Mauritanian peacekeepers to Central African Republic, similar to the mission the National Guard conducted in Côte d’Ivoire. This humanitarian service deserves the greatest respect and recognition.
My team and I will continue to work with all our partners throughout Mauritanian society to achieve our common objectives for Mauritania and a safer, more prosperous and united America. I hope you will enjoy the celebration of the 239thanniversary of the independence of our country, the partnership between our two governments, and the friendship between our two peoples.