President Obama talked about his commitment to Africa in personal terms last night at the White House. "I stand before you as the President of the United States and a proud American," Obama told the U.S.-African Leaders Summit at dinner last night.
"I also stand before you as the son of a man from Africa. 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.
The president then offered a toast.