WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) — President Barack Obama spoke at the Young African Leaders Initiative summit on Monday, where he encouraged Africa’s potential future leaders to “make a real difference back home.”
“I want to make sure that even as we’re working with governments, we’re also working to empower young Africans like you,” Obama said about the program established last year: the Mandela Washington Fellowship. “This program’s going to help all of you make a real difference back home.”
About 500 young Africans, aged between 25 to 35, were welcomed by Obama at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, in Washington, D.C., for the three-day summit of “sub-Saharan Africa’s most promising young leaders,” a White House statement said.
“I have no doubt that you’re going to leave behind for the next generation — and the generation after that — an Africa that is strong and vibrant and prosperous, and is ascendant on the world stage,” Obama said.
Obama spoke out against the corruption, reiterating his message last week during his address at the African Union.
He also urged the young group to reject “foolish traditions” such as sorcery, which can lead to the persecution of Africans afflicted by albinism and the practice of female genital mutilation.
“The notion that any African would discriminate against somebody because of the color of their skin, after what black people around the world have gone through, is crazy,” Obama said. “It’s infuriating. And I have no patience for it.”
“You don’t do violence to young girls,” Obama added. “There’s no reason for it other than to suppress women… I don’t care that [it] used to be how things were done. Societies evolve based on new understandings. You have to challenge it. You can’t accept excuses for it.”
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is “the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking,” the U.S. Department of State wrote in a statement.