With the relationship of both being the first black presidents of their countries, it’s safe to say that the relationship between President Barack Obama and President Nelson Mandela was pretty solid, and there’s no better way of showing this but by Obama honouring President Nelson Mandela through some of his legacy.
Currently known as the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, Obama plans to rename the fellowship in honour of Nelson Mandela. The announcement will be made on Monday during a town-hall-style meeting with guests who participated in the inaugural of the fellowship.
Fellowships are designed to give 500 young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa leadership training at American universities, the chance to meet with government officials, entrepreneurs and civil society members from the United States. Obama announced creation of the fellowship program during the 2013 trip to South Africa.
Discussing the fellowship program during his visit, Obama said that “we want to engage leaders and tomorrow’s leaders in figuring out how we can best work together.”
The fellowship program being re-named in Mandela’s honour is part of the Young African Leaders Initiative that was launched by Obama in 2010.
The meeting is one in a series of upcoming events dedicated to U.S. and African relations, including the first U.S. and Africa Leaders Summit on August 4-6.
Obama has often expressed his admiration for Mandela, who passed on in December at the age of 95.
At the memorial service held in South Africa for President Nelson Mandela, Obama said Mandela was someone who believed in the power of actions and ideas, as well as laws and institutions. Mandela also understood “the ties that bind the human spirit,” Obama said.
Mandela’s greatest gift, was “his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.”
White House officials confirmed Monday’s announcement about the Mandela fellowships, speaking on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt the president.
At Monday’s meeting, President Barack Obama will also announce a series of new public-private partnerships involving Africa, officials said, including creation of four “Regional Leadership Centers” on the continent.
The White House noted that 60% of Africa’s population is under the age of 35.
The topics at next month’s U.S. and Africa Leaders Summit will include trade and investment between the United States and Africa, as well as improved counterterrorism security.
In announcing the summit during last year’s trip to South Africa, Obama said he wants “to launch a new chapter in U.S. and African relations.”
It’s great that our leaders are taking the initiative to focus on raising leaders and doing this by highlighting even greater leaders through this.