Aug 5, 2010

'Big Men' snubbed?

When asked about his reasons for hosting the President’s Forum with Young African Leaders in D.C. this week, President Obama responded that often times when dealing with older leaders the message doesn’t always filter down to those who will be “providing the energy, the new initiatives, the new ideas”. And therefore, it was important to bring the next generation of leaders together.

For anyone that has followed Obama’s meteoric rise in American politics; from his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention to his historic election in 2008, this should not come as any surprise. He embodies the quintessential leader propelled by the power of a movement disenchanted with the status quo and leadership seemingly out of touch with the people.

Some may see this as a rebuke or even a snub of some of the continent’s leaders, but I see it as his way of affirming and giving due credit to the young leaders working at the grassroots level who are often overlooked and unrecognised. If we claim that Africa’s youth hold its future in their hands, shouldn’t we be applauding this and not grumbling about the fact that Paul Biya of Cameroon missed out on an opportunity to drink Cristal at the White House?

Furthermore I agree with Obama’s assertion that the chance to meet one another and engage in dialogue reinforces their zeal to keep on in the work they have chosen to do, knowing that they do not do it alone; and it is also an opportunity to share best practices, pitfalls to avoid, etc. It can certainly be a lonely road mired with potholes the size of craters without the encouragement from others.

I have thoroughly enjoyed following the events from the last three days, and it’s my sincere hope that the 115 delegates will return home rejuvenated and continue with the work helping Africa harness her potential moving towards a better tomorrow for us and our children. 

Let us continue to plant the seeds of change that will grow into a better Africa for us all. 

Here's a wrap video from the forum.


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