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president obama: thank you, everybody. everybody, pleasesit down, sit down. everybody, sit down. audience: yes, we can! yes, we can! the president:thank you so much! thank you, everybody. (applause) thank you.

well, it is so goodto see all of you. okay, everybody settledown, settle down. (audience sings"happy birthday." ) the president: thank you! well, you know, i -- letme first of all just say that -- let me first ofall say i'm a little disappointed with thelack of enthusiasm. (laughter) everybody is soshy and quiet.

first of all, i want tothank emmanuel for the great introduction and theoutstanding work on behalf of the people of uganda. please give emmanuel abig round of applause. i don't know whether theychose emmanuel because he's such a great speaker-- which he is -- or because they thought heand i were cousins -- -- because odama, obama -- -- there must besome connection.

now, i know that you'vebeen in this fellowship for a few weeks. i know that for many ofyou, this is your first visit to theunited states. so let me start by sayingon behalf of the american people, welcome to theunited states of america. i don't want to give along speech because i'm really here to hear fromyou and answer your questions and to getyour comments and ideas.

but i do want to just takea moment to step back and talk about why you beinghere is so important, not just to me but to allof our countries and to people around the world. i stand here as thepresident of the united states and theson of an african. michelle and i have alwaystried to instill in our girls, our daughters, asense of their heritage, which is american andafrican and european --

with all the strengths andall the struggles of that heritage. we took them to africa. we wanted to open theireyes to the amazing tapestry of historyand culture and music. we looked out from thosedoors of no return. we stood in the cell wheremandela refused to break. as president, i've nowvisited sub-saharan africa four times, which ismore than any other

u.s. president. and even as africacontinues to face enormous challenges -- poverty anddisease and conflict -- i see a continenton the move. you have one of theworld's fastest-growing regions, home to a middleclass that is projected to grow to over 1billion consumers. you are more connected bytechnology and smartphones than ever before -- asi can see here today.

africa is sending more ofits children to school. you're saving more livesfrom hiv/aids and infant mortality. and while there's stillmore work to do to address these challenges, today'safrica is a place of unprecedented prosperityand opportunity. so over the past seven anda half years, i've worked to transform america'srelationship with africa so that we areequal partners.

as so many africans havetold me, you want trade not aid -- trade thatsupports jobs and growth. so we've been working toboost exports with africa. we're working to promotegood governance and human rights; to advancesecurity; to help feed families. earlier today, i signeda new executive order so that we're doing evenmore to support american companies that areinterested in doing

business in africa. and this fall, we'll hostthe second u.s.-africa business forum toencourage more trade and investment. and we're going to keepworking together in our power africa initiative tobring cleaner electricity to more than 60 millionafrican homes and businesses. and we're doing this notjust because i love the people of africa, but alsobecause the world will not

be able to deal withclimate change or terrorism, or expandingwomen's rights -- all the issues that we faceglobally -- without a rising and dynamic andself-reliant africa. and that, more importantlythan anything else, depends on a risinggeneration of new leaders. it depends on you. that's why, six yearsago, i launched the young african leadersinitiative.

because i've alwaysbelieved that one person can be a force forpositive change; that one person, as bobby kennedyfamously said when he visited soweto, that oneperson can be like a stone, a pebble thrown ina lake, creating ripples -- ripples ofhope, he called it. and that's especiallytrue for all of you. you're young, you'retalented, optimistic. you're already showing youcan make a difference.

so what we wanted to dothrough yali is to connect you with each other and toresources and to networks that can help you becomethe leaders in business and government and civilsociety of tomorrow. and the response hasbeen overwhelming. across africa, more than250,000 people have joined our yali network. they get accessto online courses. they have a network ofpeers and mentors across

africa andacross the globe. we've issued nearly150,000 certificates from those courses. i might, when i have alittle more time, maybe teach one of thosecourses myself. right now i'mkind of busy. we're training thousandsof young people in leadership andentrepreneurship and networking at our fourregional leadership

centers in dakar, accra,nairobi, and pretoria. and today, i'm proud towelcome all of you, the third class ofmandela fellows. more than 40,000people applied. you're our biggest classyet -- double the size of the previous year -- 1,000yali fellows strong. and for the last sixweeks, you've been studying and learning atsome of america's best universities.

today, you're not justmandela fellows but you're also hawkeyes andbuckeyes, and -- -- sun devils. we've got somefighting irish here. we've got our first classof energy fellows -- -- young people atuc-davis studying new ways to promote clean energyand fight climate change. and not only have you beenstudying and learning, but you've also immersedyourself in american culture.

you've looked at sitesfrom our nation's founding in boston andphiladelphia. you've visited the 9/11memorial in new york. you've spent time in myhometown of chicago. so you've got a taste ofamerica, which, for some of you, apparentlyincluded something called lobster ice cream, whichi've never tasted myself. but i have to admit,it sounds terrible. but that's okay.

you were very brave. you've also gotten afront-row seat on the fascinating roller coasterprocess of american democracy, because you'rehere during election seasons. and i hope you'vebuckled your seatbelts. but it actually has been agood lesson and a reminder democracy is hardeverywhere -- even in the world's oldest,continuous democracy. it's always challengingand it is always messy.

but as you're watching ourelection, i want you to know that one of thethings that leaders in washington agree on,on both sides of the political aisle --republicans and democrats -- is the importanceof a strong american partnership with thenations and peoples of africa. that's true today. i'm confident it will betrue for years to come. so we're going to keepstanding with you.

america is going to keepstanding with activists like geline fukoof tanzania. where's geline? geline is a lawyer andhuman rights activist. a few years ago, shethought people in tanzania should be able to usetheir mobile phones to read their constitution,so she went out and designedtanzania's first -- -- she designed tanzania'sfirst database of

constitutional resources,opening up her government to more of her people sothey could understand their law and theirrights and their responsibilities. so thank you so much,geline, for the great work. we're going to keepstanding with social entrepreneurs likeawa caba of senegal. whoa. where is awa?

where? you're over here. so who was thisguy who jumped up? he's what you callyour hype man. he was hyping you up. so awa co-founded a techhub to offer free training for women in codingand it skills. and she also started ane-commerce platform to help senegalese women taketheir products, whether

it's cosmetics or fruitsor jams "to the market and the world." because awa knows thatwhen our women succeed, our countries succeed. so thank you, awa,for the good work. we're going to keepstanding with strivers like mambafrancisco of angola. where's mamba? mamba is his own hype man.

so two years ago, hewanted to be a mandela fellow, but he didn'tqualify because he didn't speak english. so he buckled down --he studied, he learned. and he's here todayhelping other young people in angola learn to readand write and make it to college. so, thank you. and finally, we'll standtogether in memory of

john paul usman. as many of you know, johnpaul was a bright young leader from nigeria whoinspired people around the world with hiswork for peace. tragically, he lost hislife earlier this summer in a hiking accident, andi know you're showing solidarity with the greenribbons that some of you are wearing. like you, i have faiththat john paul's legacy of

building peace andfighting for children's rights will live on, notjust in nigeria, but in all those he inspired inyour countries back home, and here in theunited states. because this isa two-way street. for all the experiencesthat you're gaining here in the united states,we're learning from you. we're energizedby your passion. we're learning fromyour perspectives.

and that's why this year,for the first time, americans travel to africato visit mandela fellows in their home communitiesso that americans -- -- so that americans canlearn about development and community buildingand more from africans. and even more americanswill participate in this exchange next year. it's also why i'm excitedto announce new support from the millenniumchallenge corporation,

the u.s. african development foundation, and the citi foundation, to provideeven more africans with grants and professionalopportunities. give them a big roundof applause for their support. so these partnershipsdon't just change the lives of young peoplelike you, they're also energizing our countriesand shaping our world. we've created programslike this not just in

africa, but in southeastasia, in the americas, in europe. so you're part of a hugeand growing network of the next generation ofleaders around the world. and while i'm going toleave it up to historians to decide my overalllegacy, one of the things that i'm really proud ofis my partnership with young people like youbecause all of you inspire me. so years from now, whenyou're running a big

business, or doing a greatnonprofit, or leading your country as a president ora prime minister, or a minister of finance orsomething, my hope is that you can look back and youwill keep drawing from strength and theexperience that you've gotten here. i hope that you'llremember those of us who believed inyour potential. and i hope, as aconsequence, you then give

back to the people whoare coming up behind you. because that's how we keepmaking progress together, across oceans andacross generations. so as you do that, youshould know that you'll always have a partnerand friend in the united states of america. i could not be prouder ofall of you and the great work that you've done. i want to once againthank our outstanding

institutions, ouruniversities that have been hosting you. we're very, very proudof their great work. and so with that, now whati want to do is open it up for questions. i know that some peopleare watching on the yali network online. so hello, everybody. over the past week,they've been sending in

questions over facebook,so we're actually going to start with one of those. and we've got a yali alumhere to read our first question, steve zita. where are you, steve? there you are. you're going to readour first question. go ahead, steve. the press: thankyou very much, sir.

by the way, you just saidthat people might wonder if you and emmanuelwere cousins. i just wanted to say thatin this room, we're all brothers. and you're one of us. the president: although ihave to say that at this point, i'mprobably an uncle. i wish i could say i was abrother or a cousin, but now i've gotsome gray hairs.

so you got tocall me uncle. go ahead. the press: yes, sir. so thank you very much. i'm steve zita from drc. i'm a 2015 alum. i was at the universityof texas at austin. there they are. and as you know, the yalinetwork is a huge pool of

about 250,000 people. so we couldn'tall be here. unfortunately, i think wemight not fit in the room. and our first questioncomes from charles stembo , from zambia, who wantedto know, what has been the most challenging issueyou've had to handle since you've become presidentof the united states? and also, what will beyour last message as a president, of course, tothe young people across

the globe? the president: well, i'vehad my share of tough issues. the issue that had thegreatest magnitude was the issue i faced when i firstcame into office, and that was that the world economywas in the midst of an unprecedented financialcrisis that was then spilling over intothe broader economy. and the growth and tradeand the entire financial system was contracting ata pace that we hadn't seen

since the 1930s, sincethe great depression. and so the series ofactions that we had to take very quickly tostrengthen our banks, to coordinateinternationally, to unlock the financial system, tomake sure that people did not engage inprotectionist behavior, to resuscitate our autoindustry, to put people back to work, to makesure that we didn't get a further downward spiralto stabilize the housing

market here -- that wasimportant not just for the united states, butthat was important internationally becausewe're such a big engine for economic growth. and we're still sufferingfrom some of the scars from that great recessionthat we had in 2007, 2008. but overall, we avertedthe worst of the crisis and we were able tostabilize the situation so that the world couldstart growing again.

and that means jobs andopportunity and prosperity for a lot of people. probably the mostfrustrating challenge that i've had on an ongoingbasis typically involves conflicts outside ofthe united states. syria is thetoughest example. but the conflicts that wecontinue to see in south sudan, for example, whereafter years of fighting and millions of peopledead, finally there was

the opportunity to createan independent country of south sudan. and yet now, within southsudan, there is still conflict between the twocountries -- or between two factions. those are very challengingbecause the united states, on the one hand, cannotpolice and govern every spot in the world. on the other hand, peoplelook to us to have a

positive influence. and our goal has beenconsistently to try to bring people together sothat they can sit down and resolve issues politicallyrather than through violence. it is a source of ongoingdaily frustration for me that we have not been ableto stop some of these conflicts. one of the things thatwe've seen in the world today is a shift.

it used to be that you hadthese big wars between great powers. now so often the greatestsuffering arises out of either ethnic conflictor sectarian conflict or states that are unstable. and the consequences forordinary people in those countries are enormous. and in some ways, it'sharder to stop those kinds of conflicts than it issimply to defeat an army

that is clearlyidentified. and the challenge ofterrorist networks, which has been an ongoingproject of ours and many of our partners around theworld, is tied up with this issue -- becausewhen you have regional conflicts and young peopleare displaced and they are without education and theyare without prospects and they're without hope, thenthe possibilities of them being recruited into anorganization like isil or

al qaeda or boko haram,even if it's just a tiny, small percentage, isobviously going to be higher than if people aregiven opportunity and there's stabilityin their lives. so the one thing that iknow is that the way we're going to solve theseproblems is not in isolation but by havingpeople of good will from across regions, acrosscontinents working together. and that begins with manyof the young people like

you around the world whoare trying to do the right thing. oh, by the way, i alwaysgo boy, girl, boy, girl here to make surethings are equal. that was a young man whoasked that question, right? so it's a lady's turn. go ahead, right there. here, you've gota microphone. the press: hi, thankyou for the chance,

mr. president ofthe united states. i work in internationaladvocacy. the president:what's your name? the press: myname is samreen. i'm from sudan. i'm a co-founder ofsomething called the sudanese humanrights initiative. i go work in internationaladvocacy a lot, and we meet representatives fromyour government, and they

play a big roleinfluencing the resolutions that come insudan, which part they will be. so i really want tounderstand how the united states stands, becausewe have sanctions, and sometimes i feelthey're not enough. so i want to see in theinternational relations what the situation of theunited states and how can they help to empower youngpeople like us, and to be

heard, and to be inroundtables, to help and develop democracyin the country. the president: good. excellent. well, sudan is an exampleof some of what i was talking about earlier. i mean, there's a historyin darfur and other parts of the country of enormousconflict internal to sudan. and our goal when we --woops, uh-oh, sorry, guys.

i'm tearing upthe stage here. our goal when we puttogether a package of sanctions is not topunish the people of that country, but is ratherto make sure that we can exert some leverage sothat the country is more responsive to the needs ofthe people; that they are more prepared to open upgovernment to peaceful concerns and people whoare trying to organize around human rights ordemocracy or so forth.

the pressure that we applyis not always enough to actually entirely changethe practices inside those countries. and sometimes, let's faceit, there are countries that are very resentfuland suggest, why don't you mind your own business? their attitude is, who isamerica to tell us what to do when you yourselveshave your own problems inside your country.

and my response is thatamerica has to have some humility in recognizingthat we have our own issues; that ultimately,whether it's people in cuba or people in sudan orpeople in other parts of the world where there arechallenges around human rights -- that ultimatelyit's going to be up to the people themselves in thosecountries to determine their fate. but i do believe thatthere are certain

principles thatapply everywhere. i believe that governmentsshould follow the law and not be arbitrary. i believe that everyindividual has certain rights -- to speak freely,and to practice their own faith freely, and toassemble peacefully to petition their government. i believe that womenshould be treated equally, and if you come from acountry in which it is

traditional to beat womenor not give them an education, or engage ingenital mutilation, then you should change yourtraditions because those are bad practices. and so i do think it isimportant for us to stand up for those principles,recognizing that we're not perfect, that we need tolisten to criticism just like other countries do,and also recognize that even as we may sanction acountry, for example, we

also need to engage withthem so that there becomes the opportunity fordialogue and hopefully we can have somepositive influence. now, there are going to betimes where -- and i've said this before -- wherethe united states is standing up for humanrights but the country that we're dealing withalso is a partner on national security issues. and so we have to balancethe needs for our security

interests and havingdiplomatic relations with that country while stillapplying some pressure. and i think that sometimespeople view this as hypocritical -- whyaren't you always putting pressure on every country;if a country is doing some bad things to its people,you should have no dealings with them at all. and i will tell you thatthat's a luxury for people who are outside ofgovernment to be able

to say that. but when you're inside ofgovernment, then you have to try to balance, okay,i'm going to engage with this government, we'regoing to talk to this government, we'll meetwith them, and we will be honest with them about ourdifferences even as we're working with them on someof the things that we agree on. and hopefully, over time,this makes a difference,

it has some impact. our hope is, is thatsudan, over time, is more responsive to the basicprinciples that we've discussed; that byengaging with them sometimes around regionalconflicts where we have common interests, oraround anti-terrorism efforts, that theopportunities for dialogue improve the prospectsfor human rights. but ultimately, it's goingto depend on the courage

and the conviction ofpeople like you, people inside of sudan or insideof any of your countries, to be able to bring aboutchange in a peaceful fashion. but we're very proud ofyou, so keep up your good work. it's a guy's turn. that man in thecorner right there. no, no, thisone right here. you, yes.

right there. the press: thanks verymuch, mr. president. i need -- first of all, ifyou can allow me to ask to my fellow -- all of us, ifyou can just stand up and thank again once morepresident obama. the president: oh, youdon't need to do that. that's fine. the press:thanks very much. i appreciate you too much.

i'm christian mapandano from congo. and first of all, i wouldlike to thank you because you have given me theopportunity to know something about america. i've noticed thatamerica is not perfect. our countriesare not perfect. but i'm a journalist andwe have used media to destroy our africa, todestroy our countries.

today, all they know aboutafrica -- it's poverty, it's hunger, it'smalnutrition. although what i know-- i'm speaking like a congolese -- congothat i love too much. my country has got manynatural resources. and it's a victim of thiswealth, of this richness, because powerful countrieshave used this to destroy our people, to bring warin our countries, to bring armed groups inour countries.

and people are beingpoorer and poorer every day, and countries whichare making armed weapons keep on improving --keep on developing. and this is not good. so i'm going to aska favor from you. the first one is that youare going to leave the white house ithink by november. the president: january,but that's okay. (laughter and applause)

the press: that's good. it will be in january. so i'll ask you one favor. first of all, if youcan be a mentor to our leaders, politicalleaders, as soon as you are going to leavethe white house. please be a mentor to ourafrican leaders, because you are an africanamerican -- -- to changethis continent.

and the second one favor-- the second favor, i'll need a really a specialpicture with you. thanks verymuch, president. the president: all right. so this is as good a timeas any to let you know that after i'm done, i'mgoing to shake everybody's hands. no, no, no, no, wait. wait, wait, wait -- wheni say everybody, i don't

mean literally everybody. i'm going to -- becausethere are a thousand of you. i can't shake everybody. but -- audience: yes, you can! yes, you can! the president: i've gotanother job i've got to do. but here's what i cannotdo is take selfies, because then i'll be herefor the next four hours.

it won't work. so, no, you can'tget your picture. i'm sorry. but let me addressyour broader question. the congo is a goodexample of a country with, as you said, enormousnatural resources, and a terrible history of abuseduring colonialism, of conflict. as you said, weapons thatare not made in the congo

pour into the congo aspart of other people's agenda. and so you both haveenormous opportunities, but enormous challenges. but a couple ofthings i would say. number one, even thoughit's important to know this history of whathappened during colonial times in the congo andwhat happened subsequent during efforts ofindependence, and the way that other countries fromthe outside have meddled

in ways that were nothelpful to the people there -- it is alsoimportant for every country to, at somepoint, say it is now our responsibility -- -- even if we have anunjust history, now it is our responsibility, and wecan't use the past as an excuse for some of theproblems that we have today. and that's trueeverywhere. so you have to be mindfulof your history, because

if you weren't mindful ofyour history then suddenly you think, wow,what's wrong with us? and in fact, there'sreasons why a country like the congo has hadso many problems. but it can't be an excuseto then just sit back and say it's somebody else'sproblem, or it's somebody else's fault. and that is a veryimportant principle i think for every countryon the continent.

we know thehistory of africa. but now the question is,what's the new history that we're going to write? what are the next chaptersthat we're going to write? in terms of mediaportrayals of africa, i think you're correctthat the united states sometimes only sees africain terms of stereotypes -- it's either the wildlifechannel and its beautiful safaris, or it'spoverty and war.

and too often, americansjust don't realize there are a lot of people whoare just going to work every day -- -- and they do wearclothes, it's true -- -- and raising familiesand getting an education and creating businesses. so since you're ajournalist, one of your goals should be to helptell africa's story. and the good news is, isthat because of the power

of the internet, it usedto be that in order to make a film, you had tohave millions of dollars and cameras and this. now you take out yourphone, or you have a small camcorder and you canproduce content that immediately is reachingmillions of people. so you can tell your ownstories in a way that you could not before. and i would encourage allof you, no matter whether

you're in business or inpolitics or working for an ngo, to think about howare you telling a story about africa andits possibilities. because the platform nowexists for more and more people to understand theenormous potential and the good news that's takingplace in africa, not just the bad news. okay, it's a woman's turn. i don't want to neglecteverybody here -- right

here in back, this younglady in the purple here. the press: thank you, sir. my name is judy . i'm from botswana. i want to ask a questionabout balance and responsibility. yes. i've watched how you haveled in your presidency with your wife,michelle obama --

-- your family life in thepublic squares, and how you've managed to havebalance between your public officeand your home. and i believe charitybegins in the home. and i've admired thatabout america, that your democracy is so open. you are investigatedbefore you get into power and when you are in power. how important is it forthe young people here

today to understand thatit's important when you are in public office torun your family well, to take care of your wifeor your husband and your children, also that it'svery important for us to hold each otheraccountable -- if you are a ruler, not to engagein greed or nepotism or corruption, and also us tohold them accountable for what they are doing? the president: well, ithink that's a great question.

well, let me separateout the two questions. because one question isabout holding leaders accountable in theirpublic lives and how they do their jobs. and the other question isreally a more personal question about maintainingbalance in your life. with respect to thepersonal question, what i would say would be thatmaintaining balance, having a strongpartnership with your wife

or husband, raisingchildren who are kind and useful and strong andgenerous and all of the things that my wonderfuldaughters are -- -- that really isits own reward. the truth is we've hadsome very great leaders who did not always havegreat personal lives. and i'm not actuallysomebody who believes that if you go into publicoffice, that your personal lives -- unless you'recommitting crimes or

things like that, thatthat is necessarily the best measure. because we've also hadpeople who were wonderful fathers and great husbandswho were bad leaders. so the two thingsdon't always align. for me, the reason thatit's been useful for me to maintain that balanceis because i think it's grounded me. it's given me asense of perspective.

it's allowed me during thecourse of my presidency, when things aren't goingso well, to remember that i have this beautifulfamily and this wonderful wife. and when things are goingvery well, it's good to go home and then my wifeteases me about how i left my shoes in the middleof the living room. or my girls think whati am talking about over dinner is boring.

and that brings medown to earth, right? and so it's been good forme to maintain perspective in my work. but ultimately, i do thatfor very selfish reasons; it's for my own rewards. because the one thing i'malmost positive about -- in fact, not only am ialmost, i am positive that if i'm lucky enough tolive to a ripe old age and i'm on my deathbed, andi'm thinking back on my

life, i won't beremembering some speech i gave or some law i signed. i'll be rememberingholding hands with one of my daughters and walkingthem to a park; that that will be the thing thatis most precious for me. so that's on theprivate side. now, on the public sidewhat i would say is, is that although not perfect,the united states is actually pretty goodabout holding its

leaders accountable. part of that has to dowith freedom of the press. part of it has to do withour separation of powers so that it's not oneperson in charge of everything. but even the presidentof the united states is subject to theconstitution. that constitution isinterpreted by a supreme court.

if i want to pass abudget, it has to go through congress. even if i get everythingthrough the federal level, there are still states andcities that have their own perspective. you have a private sector. so power is dispersed notjust in one big man, but across the society. and i think thatis very good.

now, it's frustratingsometimes -- i won't lie. there are times where thepress -- right now i'm at the end of my presidency,so the press is kind of feeling a littlesentimental. and they think, oh,he's gotten old. look at him --we've beat him up. now, let's focus on thenew guys coming in. but there have been timeswhere i thought the press was very unfair, and i'dopen up the newspapers and

i'd go, what? and i'd start arguing. but there have also beentimes where the press investigated something andi thought, you know what, this is a problem. and the united statesgovernment -- you have -- i have 2 million peoplewho work in the federal government. we have a budget ofover a trillion dollars.

it's the largestorganization on earth. so there are going to betimes where government is screwing up. and the fact that thepress is there to ask questions and to exposeproblems does make me work harder. it focuses me on,that is a problem. and too often, in toomany countries around the world, the attitude of thepeople in charge is, i

want to shut up thecriticism instead of fixing the problem. and that is not good forthe people, and in the end, it's not good forthe president, the prime minister, those in charge. because over time, whathappens is you get -- you just hear whatyou want to hear. it's as if you had adoctor who, whatever the checkup, he just kept ontelling you you're fine.

and then suddenly youstart having a big growth in your neck -- -- don't worryabout it, it's fine. and you start limping, andit's like, aw -- if you're healthy, you're great. and you never get well. so i think the importanceof accountability and transparency in governmentis the starting point for any society improving.

and that also meansthat the press has responsibilities to makesure that it's accurate, to make sure that itdoesn't just chase whatever is the mostsensational but tries to be thoughtful and present,as best it can, a fair view of what's happening. but in the end, i'd ratherhave the press err on the side of freedom, even ifsometimes it's a little inaccurate, than tohave the person who is

governing the countrymaking decisions about who is wrong and who is rightand who can say what and who can publish what. because that's the path tonot just dictatorship, but it's also the path to notfixing the real problems that exist. okay. it's a gentleman's turn. i'll call on thisguy right here.

so i need a translator --my sign language is not so good. we need a sign. the press: (as interpreted) thank you so much. so you're definitelya visionary. and with martin lutherking, i can relate to you -- i can relate theboth of you together. so in america, a lotof countries -- sorry,

there's a lot of statesand there are a lot of countries that we arecoming from that have diversity. there are visas that haveto be filled out, there's a lottery system thatyou have to go through. and so while everyoneis coming to the u.s. -- there's a medicalsystem, there are people who are seeking to gettheir phds, to get their doctorates, to get a lotof educational advances.

there's a lot ofeducational advances that people are having. and so while people arecoming here, they're seeing that they're notable to -- for example, becoming a physician orbecoming an engineer; that individuals that comefrom africa can, in fact, achieve their dreams. they can come to theunited states and they have a limitless option ofeducational tracks that

they can take to have goodwork and not necessarily depend specifically on theprofession to do it for them. and the government can bean aid in that process to help them excel intheir profession. and also, the second partof my question -- there are many objectives andgoals, but right now, as you are coming to the endof your presidency, how do you feel as though you canpersonally continue the initiatives that you'veset forth for africa since

you are coming so quicklyto the end of your presidency? what are your plans tocontinue those objectives? i have a supplementarythird part, i'm so sorry. the president: but wedon't want too long a question. all right, can i answer? no? good.

so, first of all, ithought that was very cool that you had like kind ofa three-way translation going on there. so you had the signlanguage, that was then signed back, that was thentranslated to english. so there was just a wholebunch of really smart people communicating. but if i understoodthe first part of your question, look, one of thegreat achievements of the

united states is ouruniversity system, which it really is unparalleledanywhere in the world. it's not just one ortwo great universities. we have hundreds ofgreat universities. and we have an entirecommunity college system that allows people to getpractical training as well, even if they don'tget a four-year degree. and that is a hugeadvantage because those countries that areinvesting in human

capital, that are trainingpeople, are going to do better -- that's themost valuable resource. there are countries thathave natural resources, but if their people arenot valued as the more important resource,those countries will not succeed. yesterday, i had a statedinner with the prime minister of singapore. singapore is a tiny,little island, just a

little spot, alittle dot on a map. but it has one of the mostwealthy, well-educated, advanced populations inthe world -- not because they've got oil or becausethey've precious gems, but because their people havebeen educated and they can thrive in this newknowledge-based society. so it's a hugeadvantage for us. now, i think in each ofyour countries, it is really important for yourcurrent leadership and

many of you who will befuture leaders to make sure that, first andforemost, that educational infrastructureis in place. and it has be to beprovided for everybody -- not just boys, but girls-- and it's got to start early, because you can'tleave half of your population behind andexpect that you're going to succeed. and, by the way, let'sface it, the mothers, even

in enlightened marriageslike mine, are probably doing more in terms ofteaching children than the fathers are. so if you're not teachingthe mother, that means the child is also notgetting taught. and so the first is tocreate the infrastructure where people are learning. but i think one of thepoints you're making also, though, is we have somecountries where people are

getting degrees but,because of the rules and the regulations and thepolicies, are not allowing for enoughentrepreneurship and enough privatesector growth. then you have people whoare educated but they're frustrated because theycan't find good work. and so it's not enoughjust to educate a population. you then also have to haverules in place where if you want to start abusiness you don't have

to pay a bribe. or you don't have to hiresomebody's cousin who then is not going to show up onthe job but expects to get paid. or if you want to getelectricity installed, you have to wait for fivemonths to get a line into your office. so all the rules, theregulations, the laws, the structures that arein place to encourage

development and growth --that has to be combined with the education inorder for those young people who now havetalent to be able to move forward. and too often, what i'veseen in a lot of african countries -- and this isnot unique to africa; you see it in a lot of otherplaces -- there's this perspective of, okay, youget an education and then you get a slot in somegovernment office somewhere.

and if you don't get oneof those slots then that's it, you don't have any --there's no opportunity. and i am a strong believerthat government -- strong, effective, transparentgovernment -- is a precondition for amarket-based economy. you can't have onewithout the other. but what is also true isthat if every job is a government job, thenthere's going to come a point where you're notgoing to be able to

accommodate all thetalents of your people. so you have to be able tocreate a private sector, a marketplace, where peoplewho have a new idea, who have a new product orservice, they can go out there and they cancreate something. and if you don't havethat, then you're going to frustrate the vision andthe ambitions of too many young people inyour country. so i think america in thepast has done this well.

our big problem here inthis country is sometimes we forget how we becameso wealthy in the first place. and you start hearingarguments about, oh, we didn't want to pay taxesto fund the universities. or we don't want to paytaxes to maintain our roads properly because whyshould i have to invest in society, i madeit on my own. and we forget that, well,the reason that you had this opportunity to gowork at google or to go

work at general motors orto go work at ibm had to do with a lot ofinvestments that were made in science and researchand roads and ports and all the infrastructurethat helps preserve the ability of people who wantto operate effectively in the marketplace tobe able to make it. and i always tell peoplewho are anti-government in the united states: trygoing to a country where the governmentdoesn't work.

and you'll see that youactually want a good government. it's a useful thing tohave, but it's not enough on its own if you alsodon't have then the ability of people in theprivate sector to succeed. it's a woman's turn. let's see. the guys, youcan sit down. guys, it's not your turn.

this young ladyright here. no, not you -- i said thisyoung lady right here. come on, bro. what's your name? the press: my nameis falaca diane . i come from benin. thank you, mr. president,for giving us this opportunity. when you were speaking,you spoke about leaving

people behind. i want to use that samephrase to mention here that we have left a lot ofyoung and dynamic other people behind to come herein the united states. and what hasbeen the barrier? i want to pay tribute toevery fellows who come from every africancountries, but i want to pay a special tribute toall fellows who come from mali, senegal, niger,cote d'ivoire, and benin.

the challenge istwofold, mr. president. not only do we have toqualify as good leaders, we also have to qualifyas good english speakers. but we have people backhome who cannot speak this language. mr. president, you areat the end of your term. i would like you topartner with all these countries -- mali, benin,senegal, cote d'ivoire, mozambique --

-- to help us buildenglish club, english language centers for youngpeople to be able to be more efficient andseize this opportunity. thank you very much. i think you make anexcellent point. obviously we have peoplewho are here from francophile countries orfrom portuguese-speaking countries, but what wealso want to make sure of is that everybodycan participate.

and for a range ofhistorical reasons, english has become in someways a lingua franca. and frankly, i wish we asamericans did a better job of learningother languages. one of the things aboutbeing a big country, we've always kind of felt like,oh, we don't need it. but now, in aninterconnected world, the more languages wespeak, the better. so i think it's excellentpractical advice.

and we will work with ourteam to think about how we can incorporate englishlearning into our program. so thank you very muchfor that news i can use. all right, let's see. we've got a gentleman --this guy right here in the cool hat. the press: which -- the president: well, youboth have cool hats, but i was calling on him.

right here. the press: thank you somuch, mr. president. i want to start by sayingthank you so much for i think you've done agreat job as a president, and you inspire a lot ofus young african leaders. also, i want to say thatback home where i come from -- my nameis falah ano , by the way. i'm nigerian. where i come from thereare lots of bottlenecks

and barriers to the youthsparticipating in politics -- because politics we seeas a platform that offers change we desireto implement. so what is your advice,being in the white house for eight years,coming as a young (inaudible) to the white house andafter eight years the things you've seen fromwhere you came from and now -- what advice do youhave for young africans

who aspire torun for office? and what do you thinkthey can do to make a difference even when theyget to political office? and secondly, this is --just use this opportunity to say a big shout-outto my wife, admaz . and i promised her if iget a chance to talk to you, i would sayhi on her behalf. the president: okay. so you see, he'skeeping balance.

making sure he can go backhome and say, hey, honey, i've -- -- i was lookingafter you. people here in the states-- we have a white house interns program, and ioften talk to young people after they complete theirinternship at the white house. and they ask me a similarquestion: what advice would i give for peoplewho are interested in public serviceand politics?

and obviously, eachcountry is different. some countries are morechallenging because democratic policies arestill not so deeply entrenched; oftentimesthere's not as much turnover in governmentbecause people, once they get in, they don'twant to leave. in part, by the way, thatalso has to do with the lack of opportunityin the private sector. one of the reasons why youwant to have a country

that has a good, stronggovernment but also a private sector is if youdon't have a good, strong private sector, then thetemptation for people to stay in power ingovernment -- because that's the only way tomake a living or to succeed -- that becomesa strong temptation, and that then leads to thetemptation to corruption or to suppress opposition,or to not have honest elections.

because you're hanging on-- because if you lose, you've got nothing, right? and one of the good thingsabout the united states is that, look, you run foroffice, if you lose, there's other waysof making a living. it's not a tragedy. and, no -- and it'sinteresting -- i mean, there were times where-- during my political career, there were timeswhere i thought, you know

what, this isn'tgoing all that well. and i remember when i ranfor the united states senate, i had already losta race to be in congress. i had been in the statesenate for eight years. it was putting enormousstrains on my family because i wastraveling a lot. and i thought to myself,you know what, this is it -- if i don'twin this u.s. senate race, i'm gettingout of politics, i'm going

to go do something else. and i was comfortablewith that view. it also meant that once ibecame president -- and people have talked about,for example, in my first term when i was trying toget the health care law passed, and the politicsof it were not going well, and people were very angryand oftentimes misinformed about what it would do --i decided, look, even if this means that i don'tget a second term, i'm

going to go aheadand do it anyway. and part of the reason wasbecause i said, if i lose i'll be upset, it'll be alittle embarrassing, but i'll be okay, and there'sno point in me being in office if i can't actuallydo something with the office. now, that leads me to themain advice that i would have for those of you whoare interested in politics or government. i always say to youngpeople: worry less about

what you want to be andworry more about what you want to do. because those are twodifferent things. i think one of theproblems we get sometimes here in washington iswe have people -- not everybody, and maybe noteven the majority -- but there are people here who-- they had in their mind very early on, "i wantto be a congressman." and then they're doingeverything they can to be

a congressman, and thenonce they become a congressman, they don'tknow why they're a congressman. all they know is they wantto stay a congressman. and so this is true notjust in politics; i think this is true inbusiness, as well. the most successfulbusinesspeople i know, they don't start offsaying "i want to be rich." what they say is, "i wantto invent the

personal computer." and then it turns out,wow, steve jobs, or hewlitt and packard, billgates -- you guys did a really good job, and itjust so happened that it made you really rich. but there was a passionabout trying to get something done. it's certainlytrue in politics. so if you want to be inpolitics, my advice to you

would be, why? what is it thatyou want to do? do you want to provide agood education to young people? do you want toalleviate poverty? do you want to make surethat everybody has health care? do you want to promotepeace between ethnic groups in your country?

do you want to preservethe environment? and whatever it is thatyou want to do, start doing it. because you don't have tohave an office to do that. you can start a program tohelp young women in your village get an education. you can decide in whateverpart of nigeria you're from that you're going togo back and try to promote health and wellnessprograms for young people.

and the experience you getfrom actually doing these things then will informthe nature of why you might want to gointo politics. first of all, it may turnout that you are making such a difference andhaving such an impact without going intopolitics that you decide, i don't want to do that, iwant to keep on building what i'm doing. if you do decide to gointo politics, you will

have not only theexperience but also the credibility with thepeople you want to represent, because they'veseen you actually do something useful. and the last point i wouldmake is, politics is a little bit like goinginto acting, or being a musician. and what i mean by thatis you can be really talented, but maybethe timing is off.

maybe you didn'tget the lucky break. and so you can't guaranteethat you're going to be elected or successfulin a particular office. i mean, when you thinkabout me being president of the united states,it was quite unlikely. and i still remember i ranfor the senate, i won my primary, but i stillhad a general election. and then i was selected tospeak at the democratic national convention.

this is in 2004. and the fact that johnkerry picked me to speak was sort of accidental. and i gave apretty good speech. no, no -- but, wait, wait. so the day after thespeech, my name is everywhere, andi'm on television. and people are saying,wow, who is this guy, obama? that was wonderful.

we're really impressed. and he's got a future. and maybe somedayhe's going to run for president, et cetera. and i told my friend --because we were still in boston, and we werewalking, and there were these huge crowds, andeverybody is wanting to shake my hand, and i said,i'm no more smarter today than i was yesterday.

i didn't suddenlymagically become so much better than i was when iwas just a state senator. some of it had todo with just chance. it was luck. so you don't have controlcompletely over luck, over fate, over chance. but you do have controlover being useful and getting good work donein your communities. so stay focused on that.

and then if you stayfocused on that, then maybe successcomes in politics. but if it doesn't, youwill still be able to wake up every morning and say,you know what, i'm making a difference. i'm doing good work. i've only got timefor one question. yes, i've beenworking hard up here. one question.

so the young lady inthe hijab, right there. right there, go ahead. where are you from? the press: i'm from sudan. the president: oh, no,no, i can't do another sudanese. i love you, though, but ihave to be fair to -- i've got to make sure everycountry -- countries get a chance.

i can't hear. wait, wait, wait,i can't hear. cameroon. all right, righthere, from cameroon. but i will shake yourhand, though, because i feel it was unfairfor me to call on you. so you can comeup to the front. i'll make sure toshake your hand. all right, go ahead.

the press: thank you,mr. president, for i'm lily. i'm from cameroon. some of us come from areaswhere our governments don't really integratewhat we do here in the u.s. -- governments that are alittle bit maybe hostile, environment hostile. what are some of thestrategies you're putting in place to make sure thatthis, our governments,

integrate all that we havedone here so that we can better impactour environment? the president: well, we'vbeen talking about this with the state department. because one of my goalsis to make sure that the program continuesafter i leave. and i think that we havea great interest in both promoting this program,but then also working with your governments so thatthey see this is an

enormous opportunityfor them. what we want to let themknow is that the talent that all of you representis going to be the future of your countries. and so take advantage. we'll partner with you butalso with your governments to work on the projectsthat you've designed, to make sure that you have asort of a sponsor that is kind of lookingout for you.

i think the fact thatwe've created these four regional centers and thisnetwork and that embassies in each of your countriesare aware of what you've done will behelpful to you. but in the end of theday, as i've said before, you're going to be theones who actually have to take advantage ofthe opportunities. there's going to be somethings we can do, but at the end of the day, yourvision will have to be won

by you and by your fellowcountrymen and women. so part of the reason whyi love this program is this isn't a matter ofwhat america is doing for you, this is us beingpartners but mainly seeing what you can do yourselvesto change, transform, and build your countries. and i don't want to be --look, i want to be honest with you. there are over 50countries represented here.

it represents awide spectrum. some of you are going togo back and what you're doing is welcomed. some of you will goback and not so much. depending on the kinds ofthings that you want to -- maybe if you're justfocused on public health, you'll get lessresistance. if you are interested inhuman rights or democracy, you might getmore resistance.

there are some countrieswhere you being active and speaking out publiclycan be dangerous. there are some placeswhere it's welcomed. there are some placeswhere freedom of the press is observed; other placeswhere it is viewed as objectionable. i can't, and americacannot, solve all those problems. and if i were to promisethat, i would not be

telling the truth. but what i can do is tomake sure that the program continues, that thenetwork continues to get built, and that the statedepartment is engaged with your countries explainingwhy what you represent is so important tothe continent. and what i can also committo is, is that even after i am president, that thiswill be a program that i continue to participate inand work with because it's

something that i'mvery, very proud of. so thank you verymuch, everybody.


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