Mr Alioune Traoré
Executive Secretary of the Prize
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In a moment, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Federico Mayor will pay tribute to the late President Félix Houphouët-Boigny, a legendary and symbolic figure from the African continent.
You will first be shown a two-minute film, in which you will hear President Félix Houphouët-Boigny's warm and reassuring voice in a statement he made at the Yamoussoukro Symposium in 1986. This Symposium commemorated the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of the most important African liberation movement, the RDA, of which he was the distinguished founder.
President Félix Houphouët-Boigny's words, delivered in French, Will be translated into UNESCO's six working languages and into Hebrew.
Film reproducing the statement by President Félix Houphouët-Boigny at the Yamoussoukro Symposium:
“ We won the political battle. We are fighting the economic battle. It is hard, but we are already enlisting for the true battle, the one that God has preached throughout the world since its creation, the battle for peace promised to men of goodwill, to all men. I told you the other day that I have a purpose in mind for the Foundation bearing my name. I want you to give it not just an Ivorian dimension, on the scale of my modest person. Be more ambitious, as we were in 1944, in 1945, in 1946 when we founded the RDA. Give it an international dimension. Ask all researchers, ask even Nobel Peace Prize winners to come and meet here to search for the means to attain peace.
Our combat is not over. It will never be over. The real combat, the combat for peace, is still going on.”
Mr Federico Mayor
Director-General of UNESCO
"On 7 December 1993, President Félix Houphouët-Boigny died. UNESCO then lost one illustrious champion of its noble ideals. The Sage of Africa was a model among those great men who have been able to imprint on politics the virtues of dialogue, perseverance and courage.
I have expressed elsewhere the grief I felt at the loss of such a friend, a man who had struggled all his life for justice and tolerance and who, for more than thirty years, had personified his country, Côte d'Ivoire, and Africa on the international scene.
Félix Houphouët-Boigny was one of those exceptional men who make history. The example he gave to the world of what the will for peace can do when applied to relations between peoples and between nations inspired in me, in 1989, the project, which was enthusiastically adopted by the General Conference, to create a UNESCO prize bearing his name for the safeguarding, maintaining and seeking of peace. The Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, since its inception, has perpetuated the example and the memory of the Sage of Africa. Those to whom the Prize has been awarded, Nelson Mandela and Frederik De Klerk in 1991, The Hague Academy of International Law in 1992, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat in 1993, are vivid illustrations of the philosophy it represents.
Félix Houphouët-Boigny had made of the search for peace the source of inspiration of his thoughts and the aim of his action both inside and outside his country. His name will remain amongst us as a symbol of the unrelenting quest for greater solidarity and greater fraternity between men. In his memory, I ask you to stand up and observe a minute's silence".
The minute's silence was observed, standing, by all those present, deeply moved.Back to top