U.S. President Barack Obama says 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.
During his remarks, Obama encouraged his audience to stand up for human rights and for women's rights. He also praised the things participants have already achieved in their home countries.
The young fellows cheered when Obama announced that the program is being renamed to honor the late South African anti-apartheid leader and former President Nelson Mandela. Obama said the group's spirit reflects the optimism and idealism of Mandela, who died in December.
While 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.