Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 31: The Great Path to World Peace [31.30]

31.30 The 21st Century Is the Century of Africa

President Ikeda has consistently stated the 21st century will be the “Century of Africa.” In this excerpt, he outlines this grand vision and the changes in the mindset of humankind it would encompass.

In October 1960, I was at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, listening to committee and general assembly meetings from the visitors’ gallery. That year was called the Year of Africa, 17 nations having declared their independence one after another. The lively faces of the new African UN representatives, lacking any trace of the arrogance and calculation of older, more powerful nations, made a deep impression on me. “It’s time to build our countries!” their bright eyes seemed to say, reflecting a joy at finally being free of the chains that had bound them for so long.

At the time, I had just become the third president of the Soka Gakkai and begun my long journey to bring about a new dawn of human rights. I expressed my strong feelings by declaring that the 21st century would be the “Century of Africa,” and saying that the world must support the growth of the young saplings of African independence and freedom.

By the Century of Africa, I meant an age in which those who have suffered the most will become the happiest, an age in which those who have endured the greatest humiliation and indignity will walk proud and tall, their heads held high toward the sun.

There will be new leading actors in the drama of human history. Those the world has oppressed the most will be the ones who carry the world into the future. Those who have experienced the extremes of human cruelty have a historic mission to change humanity.

The Century of Africa will also be a century of life where all living things on this planet can live together in peace and harmony. The time has come when the world will learn from the energy, strength, and wisdom of Africa, a continent which, though mercilessly robbed and plundered, never lost the joyful pulse of life.

I am not talking about the patronizing attitude of “helping underdeveloped countries.” That is a colonial way of thinking, the condescending idea of “bringing civilization to indigenous people.” Rather, we must have the spirit of living together as members of the same human family.

As long as the people of Africa continue to face difficult challenges, it is only natural that we, as fellow human beings and global citizens, should share in their struggles.

From an essay series “Recollections of My Meetings with Leading World Figures—Part 2,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, April 6, 1997.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.