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"Culture is the heritage of us all. some may be more interested than others in the treasures of the past, but no one can fail to take a pride in his country's participation in the story of mankind, as represented in carvings, sculpture, music, paintings and the other arts. And there is a personal commitment to this, for no man can really say he is alone: we are all joined through our identity, with the cultures which are part of the mainstream of life"
- Simon Kapwepwe, Zambian Independence Freedom Fighter

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill

"Try to be the rainbow in someone else's cloud" - Maya Angelou

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinion drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition" - Steve Jobs

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Obama's Address To The President's Forum With Young African Leaders: " You represent a different vision, a vision of Africa on the move."

President Barack Hussein Obama did not disappoint and gave a rousing speech, (here is the transcript, but I would advise you to watch the video), in keeping with his reputation as a gifted and insightful orator.  He made sure to single out the accomplishments of the audience from a Djiboutian starting off selling ice cream to now running his own accounting practice, a Malawian using her positive HIV status to break barriers, to an Ivorian journalist fighting for the rights of Muslim women (which made me think of North Africa's absence again :( ). He also drew from his father's life, telling of how he was able to take advantage of educational exchange and also how Kenya was in a better position economically that South Korea in the 60s but is now not as developed - a cautionary tale about all of our squandered opportunities.  He capped it off by answering questions from attendees representing Mocambique, Liberia, Mali, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Somalia.  He answered eloquently off-the-cuff about HIV, Zimbabwe, Somalia and the bombings in Uganda, the World Cup, brain drain, and the potential pitfalls and the opportunities for success on the continent.

Can I just say that I loved the woman in the purple's outfit.  One because it's purple, my fav colour.  Two because it was beautiful.  She is one of those that people back home would tell you to watch out for.  He he he.  Also could not find the leader I knew in the audience.  I have eyes and ears everywhere.  I may be useless, but I like to surround myself with those that  bedazzle he he he...

Obama speeches always yield a healthy crop of quotes so I am going to let his words speak for themselves, with other little tidbits interspersed of course:

"Welcome to the White House, and welcome to the United States of America.  And that includes even our friends from Ghana, who beat us in the World Cup. (Laughter.) Where are you? Over there? That's all right.  It was close. We'll see you in 2014. (Laughter.)"

Later the response from a Ghanaian attendee:   A Ghanaian football pundits thoughts before the US-Ghana match:  "This is not war, it is football.  If it were war, then maybe we should be afraid because the might of America is more than us."

"You reflect the extraordinary history and diversity of the continent."

"In fact you represent the Africa that is so often overlooked - the great progress that many Africans have achieved and the unlimited potential that you've got going forward into the 21st Century."

"I don't see Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world."

FYI, in case you didn't know Senegal, Gabon, Nigeria and Madagascar are all celebrating 50 years of Independence. Randomly, Scuttle the Seagull from A Little Mermaid's voice said all of that in my head because he says "In case you didn't know the prince is getting married today" to Ariel in a very silly voice.  Sorry! This is my third post today, overload of seriousness, needed a bit of nonsense he he he...;}

"Africa's future belongs to its young people."

"Yes Youth Can" Kenya's adoption of Obama's "Yes We Can."

A quote from an tweeting attendee "If your actions inspire others to dream more, to learn more, to do more and become more then you are a leader." - John Quincy Adams
This reminded me of how I  have no desire to become another twit on twitter. I'm sure its lovely.  I'm just not wired enough for that kind of deluge of information. So I now rely on MIghTy African to sieve for me so I can keep up-to-date with extra fast breaking news :).  You can read his comments on the Town Hall style meeting here. As my mother always says, "sieve, take what means something to you and discard the rest". Which has led me to coin a new euphemism:

"Sieve: don't be afraid to throw out the husks to keep the rice."

"The future is what you make it.  And so if you keep dreaming and keep working and keep learning and don't give up, then I'm confident that countries and the entire continent and the entire world will be better for it."

"Some old leaders get into old habits, and those habits are hard to break."

"Here is the interesting moment that we are in though - if you look at where the greatest opportunities are, they're actually now in emerging markets.  There are countries in Africa that are growing 7, 8, 9 percent a year.  So if you are an entrepreneur now with an idea you may be able to grow faster and achieve more back home that you could here."

"I've always said the destiny of Africa is going to be determined by Africans.  It's not going to be determined by me.  It is not going to be determined by people outside of the continent.  It's going to be determined by you.  All we can do is make sure our voices are heard and you're able to rise up and take hold of these opportunities.  If you do that, I think that there are going to be a lot of people who - even if they are educated abroad - want to come home to make their mark."

"I am a profound believer in not looking at violence as a solution to problems.  And I think the moral and ethical  power that comes with non-violence when properly mobilised is profound."
When I read this I was like hmmmm torture, rendition, Guantanamo, Afghanistan, Iraq...but a little bit later he said:

"And now it is not as if we are perfect.  Obviously we've got all kinds of problems as well.  But what it does mean is that the peaceful transfer of power and the notion that people always have a voice - our trust that democratic process is one that has to be embraced in all your countries as well."

"Oftentimes women are not getting the same voice in African countries, despite the fact that they are carrying more than their fair share of burdens."

"I will say that in Africa in particular, one thing we know is that empowering women is going to be critical to reducing the [HIV] transmission rate. We know that because so often women, not having any control over sexual practices and their own body, end up having extremely high transmission rates."

"Africa has some of our most loyal friends.  Every survey that's take, when you ask what continent generally has the most positive view about America, it turns out Africa generally has a positive view of America and positive experiences so I think you should be confident even if I'm not President that the American people genuinely want to see Africa succeed."

"South Africa has its problems, but from what everybody could see during the World Cup,  the potential for moving that country forward as a multiracial, African democracy that can succeed on the world stage, that's the model so far at least Zimbabwe has not followed.  And that's where I'd like to see it go."

"I think that this metaphor of the success of the World Cup and the bombing [in Uganda] shows that each of you are going to be confronted with two paths.  There's going to be a path that takes us into a direction of more conflict, more bloodshed, less economic development, continued poverty even as the rest of the world races ahead - or there's a vision in which people come together for the betterment and development of their own country."

"And for all the great promise that's been fulfilled over the last 50 years, I want you to understand - because I think it's important for us to be honest with ourselves - Africa has also missed huge opportunities for too long."


  1. I really like how Mandela pushed for unity out of the gates in 1994. It's shown in the development of South Africa and in the hosting of this year's World Cup. Zimbabwe may not have followed their model but they can relive those good old days. I believe Mugabe and his people can figure it out too.

  2. I completely agree. I witnessed Zimbabwe's quick plunge into darkness from 2001 to 2003. Every time my family would drive down to Harare a couple of months later all of a sudden another farm would no longer have cattle or crops growing or being harvested. We Zambians used to envy the Zimbabweans and would make trips to go get thing from there that we didn't have. Now Zambia is really developing. I feel that if Zimbabwe was able to do it once it can do it again. The infrastructure is still there. It is not too late. And SADC is a strong trade block. I am sure we will all come to their aid when they are ready.