Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Barack Obama Town Hall with Young African Leaders (video)

As you know, American President Barack Obama held a town hall meeting with Young African Leaders from over 50 countries about the future of Africa in an interconnected world and the role of the United States as a partner with African nations. I had wondered how old these young leaders were but from the video, it seems these leaders are as young as 30 and even below. Sweet. I loved how they were repping in their cultural attires too.

Here are some soundbites I found particularly interesting.
THE PRESIDENT: 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.) HAHAHAHA

We need young Africans who are standing up and making things happen not only in their own countries but around the world. Diaspora

Africa’s future belongs to entrepreneurs Can't stop saying this line right here

So it’s an Africa that can do great things, such as hosting the world’s largest sporting event. Woza! Feel it, I'm African

And we’re helping to strengthen grassroots networks of young people who believe -- as they’re saying in Kenya today -— “Yes, Youth Can!” “Yes, Youth Can!” (Laughter and applause.) Twende

So -- I understand, Tumie, you like to Tweet. (Laughter.) And she shared words that have motivated so many -- this is what Tumie said: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, to learn more, to do more and become more, then you are a leader.” who is Tumie

So each of you are here today because you are a leader. You’ve inspired other young people in your home countries; you’ve inspired us here in the United States. 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 your countries and the entire continent and the entire world will be better for it. Thank you, Barack

Did you see Fatoumata Sangho of Mali? Ayayai! She asked (in French), "When did you imagine that bringing us here would be such a good idea? I'm wondering what your thought process was, Mr. President." Some of Obama's response: "sometimes the older leaders get into old habits, and those old habits are hard to break." "And so I think that your generation is poised to ask those questions, “Why not?” ". "You will now have a network of people that help to reinforce what it is that you’re trying to do. And you know that sometimes change makes you feel lonely. Now you’ve got a group of people who can help reinforce what you’re doing."

I just love how Bai Best from Liberia spoke about brain-drain and said "In my country in Liberia, where there are a lot of great people who make landmark accomplishments both in their nation and in the world, many of them are not recognized for their accomplishments." He didn't talk about how war had set Liberia back. Everyone, watch and learn. Some of Obama's response: "And so the question is for young leaders like yourselves, where do you want to have the most impact? And you’re probably going to have more impact at home whether you’re a businessman or woman, or you are a doctor or you are an attorney, or you are an organizer. That's probably going to be the place where you can make the biggest change." "I’ve always said the destiny of Africa is going to be determined by Africans."

Nadja Remane Gomes from Mozambique asked a question next in Portuguese. She doesn't look Sub-Saharan African? Now, that's where you're wrong. Africa is changing like that. She asked about democracy. Some of Obama's response: "what I’m hoping for is that some of you will end up being leaders of your country some day." "And pretty soon, young people just like yourself -- full of hope and promise -- end up becoming exactly what they fought against." "I think it was Gandhi who once said you have to be the change that you seek."

Next was Felix Limbani who asked about AIDS and said "And I think the young people like us must bring change. And we really need a strong HIV prevention program. But, again, access to treatment must be there." In one sentence, Barack proves how African he is - Some of Obama's response: "It’s the classic story of a group of people come upon all these bodies in a stream. And everybody jumps in and starts pulling bodies out, but one wise person goes downstream to see what’s exactly happening that's causing all these people to drown or fall in the water." Go figure.

Shamima Muslim spoke next. VIM! She said "Thank you, very much, Mr. President. And greetings from Ghana. We are looking forward fervently to 2014 -- (laughter) -- for a repeat. And I recollect that I was hosting a radio program the day of the match. And we have a football pundit in Ghana -- he doesn’t speak English quite well, but very passionate. And so I was interviewing him about what the psyche of our boys should be ahead of the match. And he said to me, “This is not war, it is football. If it were to be war, then maybe we should be afraid because the might of America is more than us.” (Laughter.) This is football. They should go out there and be the best that they could be. And they did." - Who cares what she had to ask Obama? If you care, watch the video.

Actually I'll help you because Shamima is just awesome like that. She asked "Is America committed to ensuring a partnership that might not necessarily be beneficial to America, but truly beneficial to the sovereign interest of the countries that we represent?" - Some of Obama's response: "Also Africa has some of our most loyal friends. Every survey that's taken, when you ask what continent generally has the most positive views about America, it turns out Africa generally has a positive view of America and positive experiences. So I think that you should feel confident even if I’m not President that the American people genuinely want to see Africa succeed." I don't think I've heard this before but it's true. . "And one of the things that I’ve said to my development team is I want us to have high standards in terms of performance and evaluation when we have these partnerships -- because a partnership is a two-way street."

Zimbabwe's Sydney Chisi asks a question about the one thing I don't want to hear about his country. Screw this. Watch the video.

It would have been easy to guess where Najma Ahmed Abdi was from. Somalia. She asked "how much support do we expect from the U.S.? And not support just in terms of financially or aid, but support as an ear, as a friend, as somebody who hears and listens to those of us who are putting our lives and our families at risk to defend humanity." Some of Obama's response: "In some cases, we may try to find a portion of the country that is relatively stable and start work there to create a model that the rest of the country can then look at and say, this is a different path than the one that we’re taking right now."

Barack closed with "And so when you go back and you talk to your friends and you say, what was the main message the President had -- we are rooting for your success, and we want to work with you to achieve that success, but ultimately success is going to be in your hands. And being a partner means that we can be there by your side, but we can’t do it for you."

Below is the video.



Check out the full transcript here
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