News / USA

Obama Hosts Young African Leaders Forum at White House

President Obama meeting at the White House with young leaders from 46 sub-Saharan African nations, 03 Aug 2010
President Obama meeting at the White House with young leaders from 46 sub-Saharan African nations, 03 Aug 2010
Kent Klein

U.S. President Barack Obama greeted 115 young leaders from 46 sub-Saharan African nations on Tuesday, in the first Young African Leaders Forum at the White House.  The president addressed the questions and concerns of young people from across the continent.  

President Obama spent an hour talking with some of the young leaders of African civil society, in an unprecedented forum in the East Room of the White House.

He called Africa "the youngest continent," and said that because a large percentage of Africans are under 30-years-old, his administration especially needs to reach the continent's young people.

"If all you are doing is talking to old men like me, then you are not reaching the people who are going to be providing the energy, the new initiatives, the new ideas," said President Obama. "And so we thought that it would be very important for us to bring the next generation of leaders together."

The president encouraged the young leaders to stand up for democracy, transparent government and freedom of the press.  He said African men need to give women a bigger voice in the establishment of democracy.

"If you are part of an organization where you have professed democracy, but women do not have an equal voice in your organization, then you are a hypocrite," said Mr. Obama.

President Obama addressed questions about Africa's most troubled countries - Zimbabwe and Somalia.  

Sidney Chisi, who founded the Youth Initiative for Democracy in Zimbabwe, raised a concern about abuses committed by his country's president.

"Robert Mugabe is still using the rhetoric of sanctions, racism, property rights abuse and human rights abuse, in violation of the rule of law," said Sidney Chisi.

Mr. Obama said he is "heartbroken" by the situation in Zimbabwe - a country, he said, that should be the "breadbasket of Africa."

"I think Mugabe is an example of a leader who came in as a liberation fighter, and - I am just going to be very blunt - I do not see him serving his people well," said President Obama.

The president said he would like to increase diplomatic and economic ties with Zimbabwe.  But he said he fears that doing so would entrench Mr. Mugabe's rule.

The leader of the Somali Youth Leadership Forum, Abdi Najma Ahmed, then asked whether Americans are prepared to give financial and moral support to those working for democracy in Somalia.

"And being part of the diaspora that went back to risk our lives in order to make Somalia a better place - especially with what we are going through right now - how much support do we expect from the U.S.," asked Abdi Najma Ahmed.

Mr. Obama responded by saying that Americans and the U.S. government desperately want Somalia to succeed.

"I think you will have enormous support from the people of the United States when it comes to trying to create a structure and framework in Somalia that works for the Somali people," said Mr. Obama.

He said American and Somali interests intersect, which he also said is true of other African nations.   

Shamima Muslim, who hosts a radio program in Ghana, said her listeners sometimes question the U.S. commitment to its relationships in Africa.

"Is America committed to ensuring a partnership that might not necessarily be beneficial to America, but [is] truly beneficial to the sovereign interests of the countries that we represent," asked Shamima Muslim.

Mr. Obama replied that the interests of the United States and Africa often overlap, and that America has a huge interest in seeing development across Africa.

"We are a more mature economy and Africa is a young and growing economy," he said. "And if you can buy more iPods and buy more products and buy more services and buy more tractors from us, that we can sell to a fast-growing continent, that creates jobs here in the United States of America."

The president also took questions from young leaders from Mali, Liberia, Mozambique and Malawi.

He said that while corruption is still widespread in some African countries, the continent is on the move, thanks to its inspiring young people.   

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs