Please find below a small selection of speeches by Stephen Lewis. Mr. Lewis makes dozens of speeches a year, many of which are not directly related to his role as Chair of the Board of the Stephen Lewis Foundation. This is a small collection of speeches he has made recently about the AIDS epidemic and related issues.
These speeches may be reprinted, distributed, quoted, or copied as long as it is not for commercial use and they are properly sourced.
To browse older speeches, click on a year from the list on the right.
I first came to Uganda when I was 23 years old. That was 54 years ago. Now I am a grandfather! (And you will notice that I am wearing glasses.)
I have spent a great deal of time wandering around Uganda over the years.
I have been to the North, to Gulu and Kitgum; I have been to the North-West, to Arua; I’ve been out to the far West to Fort Portal and to the East in Tororo. I have of course spent time in Entebbe and Kampala and Jinja and everywhere in the centre... I love this country!
All of us at the Stephen Lewis Foundation – and you have seen many here over the last couple of days – are proud and honoured to be associated with this remarkable grandmothers gathering!
We are also proud and honoured to join with Reach Out, and Kitovu, and St. Francis, and PEFO and Nyaka and ROTOM in putting together – with extraordinary intelligence and efficiency – this astonishing grandmothers’ gathering. And now the grandmothers of Uganda take the leadership in the grandmothers’ social movement across the entire continent of Africa.
I am filled with admiration and respect for what you have achieved in the last two and a half days. And I know that after the meeting is over, you will be able to form a network of grandmothers which will advance the principles of the Uganda statement.
The statement is a great document. It is a beacon of hope—of light—to pierce the darkness of HIV and AIDS and to take us into the future.
I especially love these words in the statement: “We as grandmothers have done our part. Fuelled by our love, we raise the next generation; provide food, schooling, homes, and security.”
Now I want I want to get into the heart of the document. The document says that the grandmothers of Uganda have not had their voices heard.
Now your voices will be heard by the politicians!
I was thinking of the Deputy Director of Social Protection, who spoke to you yesterday afternoon. He will never forget your faces or your voices! I think he was afraid to leave his home this morning in case he met grandmothers on his way to work.
The statement says healthcare services must be made available. I want to point out: that is not a request; that is your human right!
The statement says that you must be protected from land-grabbing. That is not a request; that is your human right!
The statement says that you should have property rights and inheritance rights. That is not some abstract hope; that is your human right!
The statement says that there must be an end to all violence of every kind against grandmothers. That is not some wish; that is an absolute human right!
The statement says that you must be protected from theft. I heard that time and time again in the sessions yesterday. That is not some hope or wish; that is your right to protection!
The statement says that grandchildren must have access to finances and to counselling and that this is an obligation of the state. And the statement is right. It is your human right to have access to finances and counselling for your grandchildren.
And finally, above all, the statement says that the social protection of pensions should be available to every grandmother across Uganda without exceptions!
The question of social protection grants is one that will obviously be introduced over time. But now that you have a grandmothers’ gathering and are a considerable, eloquent force, you have every right in the world to go to the politicians and the leadership of your country and demand that pensions be rolled out as quickly as possible!
You now have the support of civil society. They are rallying around you as we speak. You have friends far and wide.
Sitting here in the front two rows are the Canadian grandmothers who have come to show their love, their affection, their regard, and their solidarity for the grandmothers of Uganda.
As I said at the outset, the staff of the Stephen Lewis Foundation – there are many here – want to join with you in this great movement of grandmothers.
I have a special mention for the Foundation because my daughter is the Executive Director. And it's quite wonderful to work with people as talented as the leadership of the six organizations who have brought this gathering together.
And I remind you of the last words of the statement: You represent millions of grandmothers on this continent. You say, “We have breath to sing and energy to dance,” and I would add: “And voices to be heard!”
Let your voices ring with triumph throughout Uganda. And thank you for letting the SLF be a part of your life!