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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

'Africa must take charge of its own destiny' - Obama

US President Barack Obama, on his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa since taking office, has said Africa must take charge of its own destiny in the world.
Mr Obama told parliament in Ghana during a one-day stay that good governance was vital for development.

Major challenges awaited Africans in the new century, he said, but vowed that the US would help the continent.

Ghana was chosen as the destination for the president's visit because of its strong democratic record.

After his speech, Mr Obama headed to Cape Coast Castle, a seaside fortress converted to the slave trade by the British in the 17th Century. He was accompanied by his wife, Michelle, a descendant of African slaves, and both of his young daughters.

People crowded into a public area outside the fort to greet Mr Obama, with those unable to get a place in the throng climbing onto nearby roofs and filling balconies just to catch a glimpse of the US leader.

Speaking after a tour of the fort, Mr Obama said the fort should be a source of hope as well as repository of painful memories.

"It reminds us that as bad as history can be, it's always possible to overcome," he said.

"I have come here to Ghana for a simple reason," the US president said: "The 21st Century will be shaped by what happens not just in Rome or Moscow or Washington, but by what happens in Ghana as well."

Delivering a message that "Africa's future is up to Africans", Mr Obama conceded that the legacy of colonialism had helped breed conflict on the continent.

"But the West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants," he added.

He praised Ghana's own progress, governance and economic growth, saying Ghana's achievements were less dramatic than the liberation struggles of the 20th Century but would ultimately be more significant.

"Development depends upon good governance," Mr Obama told legislators. "That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long.

"And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans."

Fact About Africa - News

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