President Obama Speaks at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Dinner

The President: On behalf of
Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House. This city, this house, has
welcomed foreign envoys and leaders for more
than two centuries. But never before have
we hosted a dinner at the White House like this,
with so many Presidents, so many Prime
Ministers all at once. (applause) So we are grateful for
all the leaders who are in attendance. We are grateful to the spouses. I think the men will agree
that the women outshine us tonight in the beautiful
colors of Africa. Tonight we are making
history, and it’s an honor to have all of you here. And I stand before you as the
President of the United States and a proud American. I also stand before you as
the son of a man from Africa. (applause) The blood of Africa
runs through our family. And so for us, the bonds
between our countries, our continents, are
deeply personal. We’re grateful for
the ties of family. Of all the incredible moments
of our trips to Africa, one of the most memorable was
being able to bring Michelle, and later our little girls, to
my father’s hometown in Kenya, where we were embraced
by so many relatives. We’ve walked the steps
of a painful past — in Ghana, at Cape Coast
Castle; in Senegal, at Gorée Island — standing
with our daughters in those doors of no return
through which so many Africans passed in chains. We’ll never forget bringing our
daughters to Robben Island, to the cell from which Madiba
showed the unconquerable strength and dignity
of an African heart. We’ve been inspired by
Africans — ordinary Africans doing extraordinary things. Farmers boosting their yields,
health workers saving lives from HIV/AIDS, advocates standing
up for justice and the rule of law, courageous women
asserting their rights, entrepreneurs creating jobs,
African peacekeepers risking their lives to
save the innocent. And both of us stand in
awe of the extraordinary young Africans that we’ve
met, not only across Africa, but most recently here in
Washington just last week when we hosted our Mandela
Washington Fellows from many of your countries. And those young people show
the world that Africa has the talent and the drive
to forge a new future. These are the tides of history,
and the ties of family, that bring us
together this week. These are the citizens who look
to us to build a future worthy of their dreams — especially
those who dream of giving their children a future
without war or injustice, without poverty or disease. They are in our prayers tonight. And also with us are the words
of a song — “New Africa” — that have inspired so many
across the continent, and that Michelle and I first
heard last year in Senegal: Come together, New
Africa work together Keep on working, for Africa. And so I propose a toast to
the New Africa — the Africa that is rising and so full
of promise — and to our shared task to keep on working
for the peace and prosperity and justice that all our
people seek and that all our people so richly deserve. Cheers. Enjoy your dinner, everybody. (applause)

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