Press Releases

    30 August 2002

    City Dwellers Represent the Future of Humanity, Secretary-General Says on Receiving Keys to City of Maputo

    NEW YORK, 29 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on receiving the keys to the city from the Mayor of Maputo, Mozambique today:

    It is a great honour for me to receive the keys to this beautiful city -- a city that symbolizes the independent State of Mozambique, and whose name recalls the courage and determination of one of its glorious freedom fighters.

    A city rooted in old and rich traditions and culture, yet with its eye firmly on building a better future for all its people. A city that has seen remarkable growth and development in the past decade, but which retains its unique character and soul. A city that is yet again attracting travellers from all parts of the world. A city where 10 years of peace can be seen to bear fruit before our very eyes.

    From the red blaze of the bougainvillea to the lilac luster of the jacaranda, from the island of Inhaca to the Praça da Independência, Maputo represents to many people an enduring piece of heaven by the sea.

    Equally, your city is known for its bravery, spirit and resilience. Your courage in the struggle for independence, and in the face of armed conflict and political turmoil, has moved people in other cities across the world.

    Today, you and your fellow city-dwellers around the world represent the future of humanity. More than half of humankind live in cities. That is more than 3 billion people. Cities are cross-roads of ideas and innovation. At their best, they can serve as models of democracy, diversity and multi-cultural living. It is from the life of the city, since ancient times, that we derive the notion of citizenship -- and indeed civilization.

    Above all, it is on the character of its citizens that the future of any city depends. I hope that the people of Maputo will take pride in the character they have shown and the example they have set. I am deeply grateful to you, Mr. Mayor, and to all the people of Maputo, for giving me the keys to your city -- and I promise to make good use of them.

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