Saturday, July 11, 2009

Quote of the Day

Fifty-two years ago, the eyes of the world were on Ghana. And a young preacher named Martin Luther King traveled here, to Accra, to watch the Union Jack come down and the Ghanaian flag go up. This was before the march on Washington or the success of the civil rights movement in my country. Dr. King was asked how he felt while watching the birth of a nation. And he said: ''It renews my conviction in the ultimate triumph of justice.''

Now, that triumph must be won once more, and it must be won by you. And I am particularly speaking to the young people. In places like Ghana, you make up over half of the population. Here is what you must know: the world will be what you make of it.

You have the power to hold your leaders accountable and to build institutions that serve the people. You can serve in your communities and harness your energy and education to create new wealth and build new connections to the world. You can conquer disease, end conflicts and make change from the bottom up. You can do that. Yes you can. Because in this moment, history is on the move.

But these things can only be done if you take responsibility for your future. It won't be easy. It will take time and effort. There will be suffering and setbacks. But I can promise you this: America will be with you. As a partner. As a friend. Opportunity won't come from any other place, though -- it must come from the decisions that you make, the things that you do, and the hope that you hold in your hearts.

--Barack Obama, Accra, Ghana, July 11,2009

I'm not convinced that preaching responsibility to Africans is necessarily on-point. Africans as a group aren't responsible for what has gone wrong in Africa--African leaders are, and they were often aided and abetted by the West.

Also disappointing to me was that Obama didn't take the occasion to announce any new initiatives, any new programs, for Africa, beyond some tentative food aid. What I hope Africans take away from Obama's speech is this: Don't expect because I am half-African that you will get any special attention or treatment from me. You guys are on your own. Debrouillez-vous!

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