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Obama: World Needs Self-reliant Africa

  • VOA Staff

Josephine Kolea of Kenya (2nd R) raises her hand to ask a question of President Barack Obama with other attendees of the Summit of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders during Obama's town hall, July 28, 2014, in Washington.

Josephine Kolea of Kenya (2nd R) raises her hand to ask a question of President Barack Obama with other attendees of the Summit of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders during Obama's town hall, July 28, 2014, in Washington.

U.S. President Barack Obama honours the late South African president Nelson Mandela, saying the future stability of the world depends on African nations' prosperity and self-reliance.

He spoke in Washington Monday to a group of 500 young people attending the first Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The participants are attending six weeks of leadership training in the United States.

The gathering of young fellows precedes a U.S.-Africa Leaders' Summit to be held in Washington next week and attended by about 50 African leaders.

In his remarks, Mr. Obama encouraged his audience to stand up for general human, and women's rights.

He also praised what the participants have already achieved in their home countries.

The young fellows cheered when Mr. Obama announced that the program is being renamed to honor the late South African anti-apartheid leader and former President Nelson Mandela.

Mr. Obama said the group's spirit reflects the optimism and idealism of Mr. Mandela, who died in December.

While Mr. Obama was born in the United States, his father was Kenyan, making him the first U.S. president of African descent.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also spoke Monday at the summit. He told participants that they have to power to shape Africa's future. He implored them to "bend the arc of history toward change, not stagnation." He encouraged them to pursue "peace and prosperity, not conflict and retribution." He reminded them that they are ultimately responsible for Africa's future.

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