News / Africa

    Obama Praises Senegal, Calls Mandela 'Hero for World'

    U.S. President Barack Obama participates in a joint news conference with Senegal's President Macky Sall at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, Senegal, June 27, 2013.
    U.S. President Barack Obama participates in a joint news conference with Senegal's President Macky Sall at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, Senegal, June 27, 2013.
    In Senegal on the first leg of a three-nation Africa trip designed to demonstrate his re-engagement with the continent, U.S. President Barack Obama praised democratic progress made by African nations. He also spoke about former South African president Nelson Mandela.

    Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were welcomed by President Macky Sall at the presidential palace.

    Obama's motorcade drove through streets lined with thousands of people holding signs welcoming the first African-American U.S. president back to the continent, reading: “Yes we can - President Obama and Macky Sall.”

    One of Obama's objectives is to recognize democratic progress in this small Muslim-majority nation, and across Africa.

    Lauding Senegal's progress

    He called Senegal an inspiring example.

    “Senegal is one of the most stable democracies in Africa and one of the strongest partners that we have in the region. It is moving in the right direction, with reforms to deepen democratic institutions, and as more Africans across this continent stand up and demand governments that are accountable and serve the people, I believe Senegal can be a great example.”

    Obama said the world too often overlooks “amazing progress” Africa is making to improve democratic governance and empower citizens. He also mentioned Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Niger and Ghana.

    In translated remarks, Sall praised Obama for his determination to give new energy to relations between the U.S. and Africa.

    “We have a historic opportunity here to open new prospects for our relations on the basis of complementarity, by offering greater opportunities to our youth and by stimulating trade and investments for shared prosperity,” said Sall.

    Answering a U.S. reporter's question, Sall said Senegal is a tolerant country, but is still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality. He said homosexuals are not discriminated against.

    Obama said the issue did not come up in their talks, but said he believes in equal treatment for all under the law.

    “My basic view is that, regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you, the benefits the rights and the responsibilities under the law, people should be treated equally,” said Obama.

    Honoring Mandela

    Obama next went to Senegal's Supreme Court, where he addressed judicial system leaders from across the West African region about the importance of the rule of law.

    He also commented on 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon Mandela, who is in critical condition in a hospital.

    Saying his thoughts and prayers are with Mandela and his family, Obama said Mandela's life provided an example to the world.

    “I think he is a hero for the world, and if and when he passes from this place, one thing I think we will all know is that his legacy is one that will linger on throughout the ages,” said Obama.

    The rest of Obama's schedule Thursday included a visit, with his family, to Goree Island, site of a museum dedicated to the history of the West African slave trade.  

    His visit there with civil society leaders reflects another major objective of underscoring the importance of empowering citizens to play a role in their governments and work to demand accountability of their leaders.

    Obama's daughters Malia and Sasha are traveling with the president and the first lady. Separately, Michelle Obama visited an all-girl's school in Dakar named in honor of the late African-American U.S. civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    • U.S. President Barack Obama heads a soccer ball at Ubungo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam, July 2, 2013. The ball called a "soccket ball" has internal electronics that allows it to generate and store electricity that can power small devices.
    • U.S. First lady Michelle Obama walks with Salma Kikwete, wife of Tanzania's president, during a departure ceremony in Dar es Salaam, July 2, 2013.
    • U.S. President Barack Obama and former president George W. Bush (left) attend a memorial for the victims of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombing in Dar es Salaam, July 2, 2013.
    • U.S. President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, and Tanzanian first lady Salma Kikwete wave as they arrive at State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 1, 2013.
    • President Barack Obama and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete walk in front of Michelle Obama and Salma Kikwete as they arrive at the State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 1, 2013.
    • Young girls and women wear the khanga, a traditional wrap, with the image of U.S. President Barack Obama as they line up to greet him at the State House, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 1, 2013.
    • U.S. President Barack Obama writes in a guest book as he tours Robben Island with first lady Michelle Obama, near Cape Town, June 30, 2013.
    • U.S. President Barack Obama departs the Robben Island prison cell where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment near Cape Town, June 30, 2013.
    • U.S. President Barack Obama listens to Desmond Tutu as he visits his HIV Foundation Youth Center and takes part in a health event in Cape Town, June 30, 2013.
    • U.S. President Barack Obama greets participants at a town hall-style meeting with young African leaders at the University of Johannesburg in Soweto, June 29, 2013.
    • Members of the White House traveling staff walk to a group of helicopters about to transport U.S. President Barack Obama from a soccer field in Johannesburg, June 29, 2013.
    • Protesters argue with police outside the University of Johannesburg in Soweto, ahead of a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama, June 29, 2013.
    • U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama look out of a doorway that slaves departed from on Goree Island, Senegal, June 27, 2013.
    • U.S. President Barack Obama visits a food security expo in Dakar, Senegal, June 28, 2013.
    • People line the motorcade route of U.S. President Barack Obama on his way to meet with Senegalese President Macky Sall in Dakar, June 27, 2013.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora