President Obama Toasts "New Africa" At White House Dinner
[U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit White House State Dinner: Day Two]
Filed by Pool Reporter for the dinner -- Dan Friedman, Washington Correspondent, New York Daily News.
President Obama opened the dinner with a toast to “the new Africa.” Guests at the event total around 400, according to the guest list.
Obama's remarks ran just under five minutes. Here are some highlights:
“Never before have we hosted a dinner at the White House like this, with so many presidents.”
“So we are grateful to all the leaders who are in attendance. We are grateful to the spouses. I think the men will agree that the woman 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. I stand before you as the President of the United States, a proud American. I also stand before you as the son of a man from Africa,” Obama said drawing applause.
“The blood of Africa runs through our family, so for us, the bonds between our countries, our continents are deeply personal.”
“We are grateful for the ties of family,” Obama continued, describing his memories of bringing Michelle and his daughters to his father’s hometown in Kenya.
Obama referenced the slave trade. “We’ve walked the steps of a painful past in Ghana,” Senegal and elsewhere, he said, “standing with our daughters in those wards of no return, where so many Africans passed in chains.”
He mentioned bringing his daughters to Nelson Mandela’s jail cell in South African.
“We’ve been inspired by Africans, ordinary Africans doing extraordinary things.”
He said he and Michelle “stand in awe of the extraordinary young Africans that we’ve met."
He then described several archetypes of ordinary Africans, including “farmers boosting their yields” and “health workers saving lives from HIV, AIDS.”
“These are the tides of history and the tides 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,’” Obama said, noting he and Michelle first heard it last year in Senegal during his trip to the continent.
“Come together new Africa,” Obama said. “Work together. Keep on working for Africa.”