Category Archives: USA

Africa: Reports of Mass Graves and Serious Human Rights Abuses in Burundi

Press Statement
Mark C. Toner
Deputy Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 19, 2016

The United States is deeply alarmed by reports, including those from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, of serious human rights violations and abuses in Burundi, including eyewitness reports of mass graves, a sharp increase in alleged enforced disappearances and torture, and reports of sexual violence by security forces.

These and other reports further underscore the urgent need for the Government of Burundi to allow for the immediate full deployment and unimpeded access of African Union human rights observers to investigate these allegations. It is imperative that the Government of Burundi remove all bureaucratic and practical roadblocks it has used to prevent the AU human rights and military observers from fulfilling their mandate for the past six months to investigate reports of violence committed by any side in the conflict.

We call upon the Government of Burundi to permit an immediate, impartial investigation into these recent allegations and to hold accountable all those found responsible for crimes. The United States remains concerned about Burundi’s ongoing political and humanitarian crisis and the resulting suffering it has brought to the people of Burundi. We once again call on all parties to reject unlawful violence, and reiterate that the only way to resolve the crisis gripping the country is for all parties to agree promptly to engage in internationally-mediated, inclusive dialogue without preconditions.
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Africa: Remarks With Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari

From: U.S. Department of State
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
July 21, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. I am very honored to welcome somebody who’s become a friend, the president of Nigeria, President Buhari. I first met him when I went over there before the elections, and we had occasion to talk about the importance of the election process. It was in the middle of the campaign. And then I had the pleasure of going back for his inauguration, which was very festive and represented the first transfer peacefully of power as the result of an election, and it was a very, very important moment.

Nigeria is an extraordinarily important country, and we have very, very important interests together. We have pledged with the President’s meeting yesterday to work very closely on economic development, on the economy, on counterterrorism, on regional issues, but very importantly also, to join together in an effort to do a better job of taking on Boko Haram. The president is deeply committed to this endeavor. He has a military background. He has himself been in combat. He has led the armed forces of his country and he knows what this is going to take. So we have a ready and willing partner, and we look forward to developing our counterterrorism and our counter-Boko Haram plans even as we also work on energy development, on education, health, and other issues within the country.

So we’re delighted to welcome the president here to Washington. He’s brought a very significant delegation with a number of governors. That’s very important to the ability to put in reforms, and I might mention the president is deeply committed to tackling the problem of corruption, which has prevented the country from doing many of the developmental and other initiatives that are on the table.

So Mr. President, we welcome you. We’re really delighted to have you here. Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT BUHARI: Thank you very much, (inaudible). I’m very pleased to get this opportunity to thank the Secretary of State because his visit to Nigeria, which he’s just referred to, since his visit seemed like a friend to Nigeria. As the United States’ message sent to the previous administration was clean and clear that the United States would not accept anything extraconstitutional, that prepared the minds of Nigerians to back us and to arrive where we are today. Nigeria will remain very grateful to the United States, to the President, and to the Secretary of State. He saw the president then, he saw the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, and he saw the opposition. And by the day, the United States maintained pressure on the government, the law enforcement agencies, and the election officials to make sure that the election was free and fair.

We thank God, we thank the United States, we thank technology for the introduction of a permanent voter’s card and reader cards made so much difference from previous elections. I thank you very much, Secretary. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen of the press.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT BUHARI: Thank you very much. Happy to see you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. We’re going to have a working lunch now. Thank you.
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You’re invited to 2015 KENYA DIASPORA CONFERENCE – ATLANTA GA USA (Sep 17, 2015 – Sep 19, 2015)

From: David Ochwangi

You are invited to the following event:


Event to be held at the following time, date, and location:
Thursday, September 17, 2015 at 8:30 AM
– to –
Saturday, September 19, 2015 at 10:00 PM (EDT)

Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel
One Hartsfield Centre Parkway
Atlanta , GA 30354

This year’s conference is for and by Kenyans in the Diaspora and features Business, Government and Kenyans in the Diaspora to address key issues of common interest and to advance our common welfare such as a) Diaspora Policy, Representation and Voting in the next general elections, b) Investments c) Governmental role in protecting the Diaspora, d) Disability, e) Technology, f) Kenya Diapora’s…

We hope you can make it!

David Ochwangi

Africa: Christmas Day Attack in Somalia

From: U.S. Department of State
Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 26, 2014

The United States strongly condemns the December 25 attack targeting African Union forces in Mogadishu. We express our deepest condolences to the families of the military and civilian personnel who were killed in this cowardly terrorist act. These individuals sacrificed their lives in an effort to bring lasting peace and stability to Somalia. Our support for the people of Somalia, the African Union Mission in Somalia, and Somali government forces in their efforts to defeat al-Shabaab will not waver.

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USA: Keeping Ohio Workers and Children Out of Poverty

From: Senator Sherrod

Ohioans û many of whom work multiple jobs while taking care of their children û deserve tax relief. And workers who lose their jobs or their pensions due to no fault of their own deserve help with health bills.

 While this makes sense to most Ohioans, too many Members of Congress may disagree. While some legislators donÆt hesitate to give tax breaks to large corporations, they stop short of also providing workers with fair tax credits that will keep them out of poverty.

As Congress works to finalize a tax deal, if businesses receive tax relief, the same has to go for Ohio workers and their families. Tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) û which provide tax relief for low-income workers û are critical lifelines for many taxpayers and lift millions out of poverty every year.

Sen. Brown speaking about the importance of EITC in Cleveland.

Just as corporations need certainty so they can make investments, working Americans deserve certainty so they can make ends meet. 

Temporary improvements to the EITC and CTC will expire in just a few years if Congress does not act. According to an analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, if these provisions are allowed to expire in 2017, 13 million families would lose part or all of their EITC and CTC. This would result in 14.6 million Americans being pushed deeper into poverty and 1.8 million Americans being pushed into poverty. In Ohio alone, allowing the improvements to expire would reduce the EITC and CTC of nearly half a million families.

We should not only make permanent the enhancements made to the EITC and the CTC, we should look at ways to expand and improve both credits.

Sen. Brown speaking about the importance of EITC in Cleveland.

ThatÆs why I introduced legislation that would triple the size of the EITC for the only class of workers who can be taxed into poverty: low-income adults without children. This would reduce poverty and spread the benefits of the program to a wider pool. Ohioans want to work and support themselves and we must continue to fight for tax policy that does not put an undue burden on low-wage earners.

 In 2012, more than 1.5 million Ohioans received more than $3.2 billion in tax relief through the EITC and the CTC. ThatÆs money that gets fed right back into the economy. Families use their refunds to pay for necessities û like groceries, school supplies, and visits to the dentist û that they otherwise might not be able to afford.

We cannot afford to neglect working families when it comes to tax relief. Congress must ensure that, like corporations, workers who need help the most can rely on fair tax credits for years to come. 


Sherrod Brown U.S. Senator

Cleveland 1301 East Ninth Street Suite 1710 Cleveland, Ohio 44114 p (216) 522-7272 f (216) 522-2239 Toll Free 1-888-896-OHIO (6446)

Washington, D.C.

713 Hart Senate Building

USA; President Obama

Dear Readers,

Last night, extremist Republicans and their anti-woman ideas took control of both houses of Congress. They are led by politicians who pledged to enact sweeping abortion bans, take away women’s right to birth control coverage, and do away with equal pay legislation.

There’s one bold response we need, and thousands are already demanding it. President Obama has been a champion for women, but now we really need him to know that we’re counting on him to block extremist attempts to roll back women’s rights. Can you join the call?

Tell President Obama: Promise to veto any anti-woman legislation the Republican Congress puts on your desk.

Sign the petition

Africa: Legislation Under Consideration by the Government of South Sudan

From: U.S. Department of State
Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 3, 2014

The United States government urges the Government of South Sudan to engage in an inclusive consultation process on draft legislation aimed at regulating Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) operations and the National Security Services (NSS).

We are deeply concerned that the current NGO bill, as drafted, could restrict civil society space and hinder the formation and operation of NGOs. As the leading donor of humanitarian and development assistance in South Sudan, we are particularly concerned that this bill would further restrict the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance and limit the important work that NGOs are doing to promote health, education, and overall development. We are also concerned that the NSS bill appears to curtail due process and is at odds with freedoms enshrined in South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution and international norms. Regulation and codification can be appropriate, but should be done in a manner that preserves freedoms of association, assembly, and speech and protects civil liberties.

We welcome previous engagement by the Government of South Sudan with civil society on the NGO bill, and urge it to continue the dialogue with the legislature and civil society on both draft bills. Strengthening the rule of law and ensuring that a vibrant civil society can contribute to social, economic, and political development, in partnership with the Government, will best ensure stability, prosperity, and peace for all of South Sudan’s people.
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Africa: U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction in Africa Sets Stage for Peace and Development

From: U.S. Department of State
Fact Sheet
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
August 11, 2014

Since 1993, the United States has partnered with 31 nations across the African continent to save lives and prevent injuries through conventional weapons destruction programs that safely clear landmines and unexploded ordnance in countries struggling to recover from armed conflict. The U.S. works with regional governments to dispose of excess small arms, light weapons, and munitions and secure remaining weapons stocks from potential diversion and illicit proliferation. Our $342 million investment in conventional weapons destruction across the African continent has saved lives as well as set the stage for humanitarian aid and development assistance.

Humanitarian Demining

U.S. support, along with support from our international partners, helped Nigeria and Burundi to declare themselves mine-free in 2011, and Uganda to declare itself landmine impact-free in 2012. With more than $53 million in U.S. aid, Mozambique, once among the world’s most landmine-affected nations, is also on track to declare itself mine-free by the end of next year.

Current U.S.-funded humanitarian demining programs include projects in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe.
Securing Small Arms and Light Weapons

The U.S. Government assists African partners in securing or destroying surplus, obsolete, or poorly-secured conventional arms and ammunition, including man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS).

Since 2001, the United States has funded the destruction of over 250,000 small arms and light weapons (SA/LW), and the unique marking of over 350,000 more to improve tracking and accountability in 24 African nations.

The United States has invested $2.2 million to purchase weapons marking machines in support of the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa (RECSA), a 15-nation regional initiative to address small arms proliferation. RECSA is based in Kenya and also works in Burundi, Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, DRC, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. RECSA has marked more than 350,000 SA/LW with this equipment, and Rwanda and Seychelles have finished marking all police equipment.

In the Sahel, the United States is working closely with Niger and other regional partners to address increased security challenges from SA/LW trafficking in the aftermath of the 2011 conflict in Libya. The United States has invested almost $1 million to help Niger right-size its SA/LW and munitions stockpile and improve physical security of arms storage sites, and plans to expand training and support efforts with countries in the region. These efforts will contribute to U.S. peace and security efforts through increased national capacity to secure SA/LW and work toward reductions of weapons available for illicit trafficking.
Since 1993, the United States has invested more than $2.3 billion in aid to more than 90 countries for conventional weapons destruction. To learn more about U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction programs, including humanitarian demining, check out the latest edition of our annual report, To Walk the Earth in Safety.

For additional information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at

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Africa: U.S. Orders Departure of Eligible Family Members from Liberia; Sending Additional Disease Specialists to Assist

From: U.S. Department of State
Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
August 7, 2014

At the recommendation of the U.S. Embassy in Liberia, the State Department today ordered the departure from Monrovia of all eligible family members (EFMs) not employed by post in the coming days. The Embassy recommended this step out of an abundance of caution, following the determination by the Department’s Medical Office that there is a lack of options for routine health care services at major medical facilities due to the Ebola outbreak. We are reconfiguring the Embassy staff to be more responsive to the current situation. Our entire effort is currently focused on assisting U.S. citizens in the country, the Government of Liberia, international health organizations, local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the Liberian people to deal with this unprecedented Ebola outbreak.

We remain deeply committed to supporting Liberia and regional and international efforts to strengthen the capacity of the Liberian health care infrastructure and system – specifically, their capacity to contain and control the transmission of the Ebola virus, and deliver health care. Additional staff from various government agencies including 12 disease prevention specialists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a 13-member Disaster Assistance Response Team from USAID are deploying to Liberia to assist the Liberian Government in addressing the Ebola outbreak.

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From: Emmanuel Muganda

I beg to differ,

Obama’s dad abandoned him. I do not think he has fond memories of him.

His mom stuck with him through thick and thin.


– – – – – – – – – – –

On Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 4:49 PM, Oksana Spice wrote:


As you remember in the 60’s black people weren’t allowed to do anything.

They had to ride in the back of the bus. Black men were getting humg by mobs for talking to white women. It takes a strong man in that time to be with a white women.

So that means that obamas dad was a strong man to be able to come from Africa when people were calling Africans sick, stupid, and gorillas. In the animal kingdom If the male animal is weak it cannot have an babies with any female animals.

So obamas mom got the strongest DNA from the mother land. So make sure Obama, if you talk to people give your dad credit. I think your dad sacrificed a lot to be with a white women in that time. He survive to go back home.

Remember Martin Luther King and Malcolm X didn’t survive but their vision survived from African DNA, what is obamas dad.

I know so many people read my stuff so send this message to Obama to respect the mother land and the sacrifice his dad made to be born.

Africa: Secretary Kerry To Deliver Remarks at the Presidential Summit of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

From: U.S. Department of State
Notice to the Press
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 24, 2014

Secretary Kerry will provide welcoming remarks at the Presidential Summit of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders at 9 a.m. on Monday, July 28, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington.

The three-day conference, July 28-30, will bring together 500 of sub-Saharan Africa’s most promising young leaders to meet with U.S. entrepreneurs, government officials, and civil society representatives.

The event will feature plenary sessions with Members of Congress, leaders in international development, and representatives of non-governmental organizations.

The Presidential Summit follows six weeks of academic study at 20 institutions across the United States as part of the Washington Fellowship.

The Secretary will highlight the U.S. commitment to Africa and the recognition of the critical and increasing role that young Africans are playing in strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security in Africa.

For more information and to request credentials for open-press events, please visit and submit the online form.

The remarks will be streamed live on Follow @StateDept, @StateDeptLive, and @JohnKerry for tweets from the event using the hashtag #YALI2014 and #USAfrica.

Media representatives may attend these events upon presentation of one of the following: (1) A U.S. Government-issued identification card (Department of State, White House, Congress, Department of Defense, or Foreign Press Center), (2) a media-issued photo identification card, or (3) a letter from their employer on letterhead verifying their employment as a journalist, accompanied by an official photo identification card (driver’s license, passport).

For further information from the Department of State, please contact

Monday, July 28, 2014

9:00 – 9:10 a.m. Opening remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry
Open Press Coverage. Press Entrance: West Lobby Glass Doors
This session will be streamed live at
Preset for video cameras: 3:00-4:00 a.m. in the Regency Ballroom of the Omni Shoreham Hotel.
Final access time for journalists and still photographers: 8:30 a.m. in the Regency Ballroom of the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

9:15 – 10:30 a.m. Congressional Forum on Investing in the Next Generation of Africa, moderated by Cokie Roberts with remarks by U.S. Senator Christopher Coons (DE), U.S. Senator John Boozman (AR) and U.S. Representative Karen Bass (CA)
Open Press Coverage. Press Entrance: West Lobby Glass Doors
This session will be streamed live at
Preset for video cameras: 3:00-4:00 a.m. in the Regency Ballroom of the Omni Shoreham Hotel.
Final access time for journalists and still photographers: 8:30 a.m. in the Regency Ballroom of the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

11:10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Young African Leaders Town Hall with President Obama
Open Press Coverage. Press Entrance: West Lobby Glass Doors
The town hall will be streamed live at
Preset for video cameras: 3:00-4:00 a.m. in the Regency Ballroom of the Omni Shoreham Hotel.
Final access time for journalists and still photographers: 10:30 a.m. in the Regency Ballroom of the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

9:00 – 10:15 a.m. Plenary session on Entrepreneurial Approaches to Activism, moderated by Sonal Shah, Georgetown University, with remarks by Sipho Moyo, the ONE Campaign, Bill Carter, Ashoka, and Washington Fellow Alain Kaposo Chirwisa.
Open Press Coverage. Press Entrance: West Lobby Glass Doors
This session will be streamed live at
Final access time: 8:30 a.m. in the Regency Ballroom of the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

4:00 – 4:30 p.m. Private Sector and Civil Society Partnership Expo with remarks by Heather A. Higginbottom, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, and Rajiv Shah, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development.
Open Press Coverage. Press Entrance: West Lobby Glass Doors
This session will be streamed live at
Final access time: 3:30 p.m. in the Regency Ballroom of the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

9:00 – 10:30 a.m. Plenary session on Enabling Inclusive Economic Development, with remarks by Steve Case, Revolution, LLC, Alexa von Tobel,, and Washington Fellow Tchegoun Adebo Koba.
Open Press Coverage. Press Entrance: West Lobby Glass Doors
This session will be streamed live at
Press timing forthcoming.

11:00 – 11:45 a.m. Remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama
Open Press Coverage. Press Entrance: West Lobby Glass Doors.
Press timing forthcoming.
This session will be streamed live at

Closing Remarks by Ambassador Samantha Power with an introduction by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
Open Press Coverage. Press Entrance: West Lobby Glass Doors
Press details forthcoming.

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Africa: Google+ Hangout: Young African Leaders

From: U.S. Department of State
Evan Ryan
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs
Dana Hughes, ABC News Digital Reporter
Washington, DC
July 15, 2014

This video is available with captions on YouTube.

MS. HUGHES: Good afternoon, or evening if you’re joining us from Africa. I’m Dana Hughes. I’m a digital journalist with ABC News, and I’m very excited to be here moderating this Google Hangout featuring four of the first class of fellows from the Young African Leadership Initiative. It’s a program President Obama has championed, which has allowed 500 of the best and brightest across 49 different countries in sub-Saharan Africa to come to universities and participate in a program for six weeks.

I would like to first introduce the fellows. With us we have Cyrus Kawalya from Uganda. Cyrus, do you want to go ahead and introduce yourself?

MR. KAWALYA: My name is Cyrus Kawalya. I’m from Uganda and I’m studying currently at the Goldman School, which is the University of California, Berkeley.

MS. HUGHES: And now we’ll go to —

MS. PREMPEH: I am Afua Prempeh. I am representing Ghana. I am currently taking my institute at the Florida International University, and I am an environmentalist who is passionate about sustainable development and local assets-based development, community development.


MR. ALONGE: So my name is Adebayo Alonge. I’m from Nigeria studying the business and entrepreneurship track at Yale University. I distribute health care solutions in rural areas in Nigeria.

MS. TOUGOUMA: My name is Sylvie Tougouma. I’m from Burkina Faso. I am a law teacher in a private school in Burkina Faso, and I’m very passionate about women participating in politics. And I’m currently studying at the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary. And I’m very excited to participate in this Hangout.

MS. HUGHES: Thank you. We did have a fellow from Kenya who unfortunately was unable to participate because of technical issues. And joining us are Assistant Secretary of State of African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Assistant Secretary of State for Education and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan. And they’ll each give brief remarks before we open it up for questions.



ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, thank you, everyone, for being here. I’m really delighted to be in this Hangout with you and with Assistant Secretary Ryan and with Dana. This is my first Google Hangout, so I have to tell you I was a little bit nervous about doing this. I wasn’t quite sure what we would be doing, so hopefully this will go well for all of us so that I won’t be so nervous about doing it the next time. But I’m really, really excited to have the four Washington fellows. All of you who are here represent the best and the brightest that Africa has to offer, and we’re really thrilled to be a part of the incredible program and to share your incredible talent and your drive, and the drive of all of the 500 Washington fellows who are around the United States.

The impact that you will have on your communities and on your countries and on the world is just amazing, so I look forward to hearing from you directly about all of your experiences as you go through this wonderful program.

I also want to take a brief opportunity to mention one other thing. The week after the YALI Summit in Washington from July 28 to 30th, on August 4th, the President will be welcoming heads of state from 49 countries – 50 countries in Africa, plus the AU. The President, the Secretary of State, John Kerry, and all of us who work on Africa are really, really looking forward to this summit. It’s an unprecedented opportunity to talk about where our partnership with Africa stands and where we want to go in the future together.

So I thank all of you for joining us, and I know that all of you will be part of the future that we are all dreaming and wishing for for the continent of Africa.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RYAN: And hello. I’m Assistant Secretary of State Evan Ryan with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. And we have really enjoyed working closely with Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield and her team on the Young African Leaders and the Washington Fellowship in particular. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs oversees the State Department-funded exchange programs, exchanges where we bring people here to the United States, just like our fellows who are here with us today. We bring them on academic, professional and cultural exchanges. We also send Americans overseas on exchanges in the same tracks.

The YALI Fellowship has been particularly exciting, as Linda said, because it’s all about the exciting future of Africa, and the leaders that are joining us today are just an example of the 500 that are here with in the United States right now at 20 different universities across the country taking part in these six-week seminars. And it’s really been an exciting time for us, culminating in the summit, as Linda mentioned, in just a couple of weeks. So we’re really pleased to be with you today.

MS. HUGHES: Great, thank you very much. Now I just want to ask each of the fellows to give us a brief overview of what their experiences have been like in their universities.

MR. KAWALYA: To begin with, I must say that I feel very blessed to have come all the way from Africa to the university at Berkeley, the Goldman School, and already I feel it has a huge effect for my – the foundation for my next creative work back at home. And I’ve learned a lot within a very short time. First of all, I’m not a student of public policy, but I’ve learned to realize how important public policy is when you’re a change maker, and it’s something that I feel that now I want to work with and it has also shaped my new direction where I want to focus and what I want to do in the coming few years.

So it is quite a lot. I’m still digesting most of it, and I know much of the plan will fall into place as we get closer to go back home and – but it’s generally been very, very wonderful and I’ve learned a lot within a very, very short time.

MS. PREMPEH: Okay. I’m very happy to be here. I’d like to welcome everyone who’s joining us, and greetings from the Sunshine State. There’s a lot of sunshine here, so it reminds me of home. I have learned a lot within a short period of time, not only about the United States but about 15 other African countries. Because before this, I hadn’t been – had the opportunity to be with so many people from different African countries. So it’s been a good learning experience. And the institute has been going very well. We’ve been learning about (inaudible) public management, issues like ethnicity, and how to harness the good that comes from diversity.

MR. ALONGE: It’s been a great experience here at Yale University on the business and entrepreneurship track. Three years ago, I started a pharmaceuticals distributions company, and on coming to the program here my focus was on scaling the distribution business across Nigeria. But the training on the program has actually opened my eyes to what is known as the concept of the theory of change. And this emphasizes on the need for you to experiment on particular models and then work with coalitions and work with public space and the private sector to scale that theory of change model across the continent. So one big learning point for me on this program is that I’m not just thinking anymore about just bringing about the change in the healthcare industry just in Nigeria, but I’m now thinking across all the rural communities across the continent.

In addition, I’ve also been able to discover that youths can actually bring about their own change through the concept of innovation hubs. The New Haven community where Yale is located has seen multiple periods of change in the economic status. And one way the government here is trying to reduce unemployment is by promoting start-ups and a culture of entrepreneurship. And one looks at back in Africa where we have a large population of over 40 percent unemployed, it’s one particular theory of change that I intend to take back to Nigeria, and which I also expect that the other fellows from the 17 other African countries here in Yale will do across the continent.

MS. TOUGOUMA: Greetings to everybody. I really want to first thank the Secretary of State Ryan for recommending me for this Hangout. I’m very grateful. (Laughter.) For these five past weeks, I’ve been studying in the UVA and the College of William and Mary. And I want to emphasize of what I’m learning about the program, the institute and about what I’m discovering as touristic sites. And I came in the United States with in mind that I would like to get more experience, more skill in order to more fully promote women’s rights in my own country and specifically the promotion of women participation in politics.

But since the first day of the institute that I’ve been introduced to the concept of design thinking, it started to change my mind in that I started to – wanted to make real change not only in politics, but in other area in women’s lives. And I remember one of our session about sustainability development, and the teacher was talking about the connectivity of every subject. And it’s opened my mind and I realize that I was narrow-minded and I started to broaden my mind, and I think that even promoting technology, water and sanitation, food security, it’s somehow contributing to improve women’s life, because if women do not have much food or something like that, they cannot fully invest in politics.

And I came also to learn about my leadership skills, and during the training, it’s a kind of resurrection. I discovered that I have lot of skill in me, and I needed to rebuild them. And I’m very excited in this program because I came to know that I’m really the definition of perseverance. Because perseverance always works. You can notice it with my English; I’m always persevering in speaking in English.

And what I’d also like to share with my fellow is that I have discovered the history of the United States by visiting the homes of the three founding fathers of the United States. I have been in Monticello and I have visited the house of Jefferson, and also at Montpelier and visited the mansion of James Madison, and I’ve also been in Ash Lawn-Highland and I also visited the home of Monroe. And —

MS. HUGHES: Oh, that’s great. That’s wonderful.

MS. TOUGOUMA: Yeah. (Inaudible) things, it’s changed my mind because when the tourist was explaining aspects of Jefferson, Monroe, they was very activist in defending the equality of rights between human beings, and at the same time they owned more than 500 slaves. And it was a kind of way to reflect on how we can have an idea. This idea is becoming reality today in that I can see my ideal president, Barack Obama, at the White House. And I have seen the (inaudible) to history. And I’m really excited in this program, and I came to discover myself – what I am and —

MS. HUGHES: That’s wonderful.

MS. TOUGOUMA: Yeah, thank you.

MS. HUGHES: Yeah, that’s great. And actually – that actually speaks to my first question, which – as you may know or may not know, today marks the 100 days that the 200 girls in Nigeria, northern Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram. And around that issue, actually it speaks to a lot of the things that you guys as fellows are talking about here and in your home countries. It speaks to issues of education, of unemployment, of leadership. So my question to you guys, particularly to Adebayo and to Sylvie, are: Do you think that as Young African Leaders, a program like this, long-term could have influence in countries like Nigeria or other countries where there is that kind of marginalization and disconnect between the area where the girls were kidnapped from and those that are really succeeding in Africa? What are your thoughts about that?

MR. ALONGE: Talk about the Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria is actually underpinned by a severe social disconnect from the federal government. If you look at how the country’s structured, you’d realize that the area where – in the northeast of Nigeria where the Boko Haram crisis is at its worst has the lowest indices in times of government support and education and other social indicators.

And if one looks deep within, it actually gives a reason why the vast number of people who are unemployed in that region are easy recruits for the Boko Haram group. There is no doubt that a program like this, this program here in the U.S. that helps to open the minds of African – young African leaders into the possibilities of creating businesses and growing across their value-creation structures and models across the continent, will lead to a situation where jobs will created as these businesses are formed. And also in areas like health care, water, solid waste management, and many of these other areas by which the livelihoods of individuals are measured, we actually see that young people can actually create private sector models to actually provide the solutions to underserved communities.

There’s no doubt that a program like this, especially with the focus on scaling, on also ensuring that every for-profit business that any young person goes into also has a social impact side, would actually help to provide some of the services that the government has failed to provide over the last 50 years on the continent. And no doubt people who are well fed, people who are well catered for, people who have a reason to live in their lives will not want to be involved with any sort of terrorist activities, and to reduce the input in terms of the numbers of people who actually give form to terrorism (inaudible) Nigeria or in Kenya or anywhere on the continent.

So it’s actually a very useful program to improve stability across the continent.

MS. HUGHES: Does anyone else want to weigh in?

MS. PREMPEH: If I could add to that. I – numbers vary according to research, but it’s known that about 200 to 300 million people in Africa fall into the age bracket of 15 and 24. This present a good opportunity to groom people and then build a better Africa, but also presents a challenge. The endless resource is not tapped into and well groomed. They are going to have problems, like my brother said, because other things are going to convince people to do, well, the negative.

I think that one of the beautiful things that this fellowship does is that it recognizes that good needs balance. And so there is the business track, because private people need to invest, economies need to grow, and then there’s the public management track for people who are in governments who are going to make the decisions, and there’s the need for them to understand the rule of private sector and then their rule. And then there’s the civil society that sort of acts as a check for government and for private sector, and it is only when the balance is gained that development can work. And I think this program very cleverly finds a way of bringing us together to network now and to build a better future for Africa.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I would love to comment on this as well because I do see this program as contributing to providing opportunities for young leaders in Africa to get the training so that they can serve as catalysts to other populations. The situation in northern Nigeria where you have thousands of young people who are uneducated, who are unemployed, who are not vested in the future of their countries, of their communities, and they are enticed by the extremist ideology that Boko Haram preaches – or anywhere else on the continent where extremists are preaching an ideology of violence and terrorism. This program provides an opportunity for young people to see the future, to start preparing for the future and see where their place is in the future.

I was so impressed with what Sylvie said about finding herself and finding that she has leadership skills that she didn’t know she had. And I think – I’ve been so impressed listening at all four of you talk about your visions for the future. And I know that if the other 496 YALI participants are anywhere near as impressive as you are, when you return home and start to have impact on the lives of the people around you, we’re going to see major change on the continent. So thank you for your participation in this program.

MS. HUGHES: Sylvie, did you have something you wanted to say?

MS. TOUGOUMA: Yes. I do believe that a program like YALI can contribute to resolving the crisis in north Nigeria, because for me, sometime people act by ignorance, and I can notice that the conflict is somehow influenced by poverty, lack of a job, lack of education. And through the Washington Fellowship there are some fellows who are getting trained and getting more skill on how to develop their business, and they can employ some people in this area. And I strongly believe that education is a powerful arm to resolve – in contributing to resolve this crisis, because many people do not have access to education and this program can help us to go and educate, like civic education, and contribute to involve many people with us to resolve this problem. I do believe that this is a great program that can contribute to resolve the crisis.

MS. HUGHES: And Cyrus?

MR. KAWALYA: Yeah. Just to add on from my personal experience of the program is that I’ve realized that now I start to see things from a global perspective instead of just seeing them as a Ugandan. I realize that we share quite a lot of similar problems around the world, only that in some places of the world they’re escalated and in others they are lower. So it kind of gives us a chance as African people to go back and try to start to set measures and rules and regulations so some of these things don’t kind of fall apart. So I feel that if many people can go through this program, it will be something that will create a very powerful change in the long run.

One, I’ve come to obviously meet very many African people that I didn’t know before, and I’ve learned more about my continent. And we’ve learned different things during our discussions and class sessions that kind of create the need for us to come together and be able to solve most of our problems. So I think the program is generally very wonderful and very powerful and will have a long-term profound effect on us.

MS. HUGHES: Well, that actually leads me to my next question, which – some of the questions on the Google Hangout that we got from the public spoke to this. And that’s that when you all talk about when you go back, this could be a catalyst for change. But do you anticipate problems with the reality on the ground? You have in some countries – in Uganda, Museveni’s been president for almost 30 years – you have politicians and a way of doing things that have been in existence for decades in some cases. How do you think that this program or your experiences can influence that? And do you expect pushback and challenges?

MR. KAWALYA: I personally expect a very huge challenge when I go back, no doubt about that. I don’t expect anything to be easy, but there’s one thing I’ve learned from my dean (inaudible) here at school. She’ll say that the only way you can make change is work with the people that are there. And it’s something that I didn’t before. I came here; all I thought was, like, “Can I go against this? Can I go against that?” But now the whole idea has shifted to a point that you have to work with these people, you have to find a way of working with them.

So I expect a lot of challenges, but more than ever I’m confident and ready now to deal with what is going to come after this.

MS. HUGHES: I’d be curious to hear from someone else. Adebayo, Afua?

MS. PREMPEH: I’d just like to add to that.

MS. HUGHES: Go ahead.

MS. PREMPEH: I think one thing that we’ve learned through our leadership training is that change must start with us and with understanding ourselves, and that is the only way that you can influence other people by also understanding them, of course. It’s not going to be overnight. There will be resistance. Change is not easy for anyone. But it starts with one person and it starts with understanding other people and pushing the point across. And eventually, I’m sure a movement will start across Africa that is going to cause real change, yes.

MR. ALONGE: Well, I find this question particularly interesting, because just yesterday and on Friday, we had this discussion around the resistance that we expect to face when we go back to start some of these laudable projects in systems that are almost ossified in how they conduct business and how the society is run.

And one of the professors here, Ian Shapiro, mentioned on Friday that one of the key things that we as private sector young leaders need to do is to find a means to create coalitions with the public sector. And one way for us to present the ideas that we have is not for us to come and say, “This is the idea we have,” but more like to look at how – what are the current projects that government and the other key stakeholders are currently pursuing that is similar to what we have, and then give them the ability for them to also own the projects, so we are not the ones saying, “Take these projects from us,” but more like asking them what questions they would like us to ask them so that they have space within the solution that we are trying to create, and that they also kind of share from some of the credit that derives from the project. So in specific terms, this program is actually – Yale has actually tried to prepare us for some of this resistance.

At the program yesterday, we had somebody from IBM who also took us through the part of building an ecosystem. It’s easier for you to be able to get key stakeholders in the economy to buy into your idea if you are more than one person, if you have a coalition of – an ecosystem that’s built around other youth groups, built around the local government, built around a key movement who can then push forward a voice. And obviously, it’s so very important for us to be able to say, “These are examples in other places – I mean, evidence-based proposals. These are examples of this idea that we are bringing forth that have worked in several countries similar to ours.”

So there’s a process through which, yes, there’s going to be resistance, but there’s a process that this program has actually prepared us for, and to go through working with those who resist the change so that they also have ownership of the solution that we propose.

MS. HUGHES: Great.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RYAN: Dana, if I can just add, an important part of this program for us is ensuring that we stay connected with these fellows when they return, and we want to make sure that whether it be through networking, mentoring, seed funding for programs that they propose, community service opportunities with our embassies and with USAID and here at State, we’re going to stay connected to make sure that we can continue to provide guidance and support in any way we can.

MS. HUGHES: Well, that actually leads me to a question that I wanted to ask the two of you, which is that you’ve planted this seed. Is the United States, is the Administration prepared to then have policies that will support this sea of change that these young people are asking for? If it’s a question, for example, of national security, how will you – how does this program influence the policies that you will have for Africa going forward?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I’ll take that question. First and foremost, we see youth as the future of this continent, and we’re hosting a heads of state summit that is about investing in the next generation. The next generation are these young people we’re talking to today and the others who are in this program, and the tens of thousands who applied for the program who were not selected. Our policies are directed, and in fact, we see as a priority for our policies in the coming years to focus on building societies that support their youth. We’ve asked that African leaders come to the summit in August to discuss what kinds of investments they are making in their youth, and we’ve had an enthusiastic response from the leaders we’ve spoken to about some of the investments they’re making, but also new ideas that they have.

So I think many of them have bought into this. They see the benefit of investing in their youth, with countries with – I think I heard Sylvie or one of the speakers talk about the large population of young people. The figures we have are that 60 percent of the population are 35 and under. Majority of them are unemployed, many of them undereducated, so we have to have policies that focus on education, policies that focus on job creation, policies that focus on investment, and policies that focus on providing opportunities for young people.

And this is what YALI is about. We’re hoping that we can bring a thousand young people to the United States next year. But it’s not about the ones we bring to the United States; it’s the ones who are impacted at home, because there are tens of thousands who are interested. As we noted, 50,000 applied for this program. We had almost 80,000 attempted applications for the program. We’re setting up a YALI network so that they can connect with each other across the continent, so that they are engaged with each other and they’re learning from each other. In fact, I have told the group that I met with from Howard that they are the best mentors to each other, that they will be contacting each other about issues that they are addressing in their country and see how it’s handled, and maybe learn from the experiences of each other.

So I think this is the beginning of what is going to be a major change, and it certainly will be reflected in the policies that we have toward Africa.

MS. HUGHES: When you do discuss – when you have discussed these policies with current leadership in African countries, is there a discussion of measureable outcomes that the United States is looking for? Is there a discussion of aid or assistance that would be helpful for that? Or conversely, is there a discussion of consequences? Is there anything sort of tangible that the Administration is looking at in terms of supporting this program and Africa – and the youth of Africa being the future?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RYAN: Yeah. So, as I mentioned a little bit before, we are looking at – currently, we have a robust alumni program in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, so all of our YALI fellows will now be a part of our ECA alumni. But we also are going to have a real separate track for them as well where they can apply for seed funding. If they leave here with a very good idea of what can be transformative and something that they really want to work on developing when they return, we have alumni grants and seed funding that we really are looking to work with them on.

And we are hoping – as Linda just mentioned, there’s no better mentors back on the continent than these fellows for the members of the YALI network, the 49,000 other applicants. So we’re hoping that this has a real multiplier effect and that they can work with each other, share these ideas, share these experiences. And we’re also, to the extent that we can, really hoping that our other alumni – we have Fulbright alumni on the continent and other alumni of our exchange programs. We want them to be engaged with the fellows and with the YALI network when they return.

So our hope is that networking, working on community service projects together, a community service project that a fellow might come up with while here as part of our program – that everyone can work together in concert to make the changes that they all have identified while here on this program. And our hope is that our embassies and alumni can play a big role in that.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: And we’re encouraging African leaders themselves to engage with these young people, that they have so much to contribute to their countries, and they need to engage with them to get ideas from them. And again, we’re getting an enthusiastic response.

MS. HUGHES: Great. Okay. Oh, sorry. Cyrus, do you have a question?

MR. KAWALYA: Just to ask a question: When the African leaders come to the States, there’s going to be a bunch of YALI fellows that are still going to be around. Will they be invited to interact with them or the conference or something that will be going on?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: There are some events in which some of the YALI fellows who are still in the United States will participate in with the heads of state. We’ve been told that YALI fellows will be invited to a number of events around the city during the visit of the heads of state. We also know that some embassies are inviting their nationals to the embassies to meet heads of state. So again, I think there will be opportunities. It’s not broadly organized, but there will be individual efforts.

MR. KAWALYA: Yeah, thank you. I think it’s a very important part for us to be able to also engage with them while they’re still in the States, to just show our cooperation and our willingness to also work with them so that when we go back, we don’t – they don’t feel like the United States took us away to come back and kind of rebel against them. You know this is the talk that has been going on.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It is. So you can reach out to your countries. I would say send a note to your heads of state that you’ve had this amazing experience and you want to come and share what you learned from that experience. And we’ll encourage them to accept hearing from you.

MR. KAWALYA: Thank you.

MS. PREMPEH: And I think I’d like to add that the experience we are having here is a learning experience. It is not sort of a copy-and-paste or a cut-and-paste experience. We are learning from the experience here how things were done, the process. And then we’ll go back home and then try to apply the ones that work, sort of like benchmarking. So it’s not – because our societies are different, conditions are different, so what works in the United States might not necessarily work in the same way back home. The idea is to know what to do and make the right choices.

MS. HUGHES: Great. And going back to the Africa summit, so I just want to be clear that you – these YALI participants will have some – or have the opportunity to have some interaction with the heads of state?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: The YALI summit is from the 28th through the 30th and the heads of state summit is from the 4th through the 6th. There will be some YALI participants who will still be in the United States after the YALI summit, and our expectation is that they will have some engagement with the heads of state.

MS. HUGHES: And is that something that – not just here, but in the – but when they go back home, that the United States has been trying to foster?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We have encouraged leaders to reach out to their youth. Several countries that I met with when I was in Africa the last time told me that they actually have youth councils and that they already engage with their youth. We’re encouraging more youth activities on the part of government. And as I mentioned, we’ve been encouraging governments to share with us their commitments that they’re making to their youth so that we can compile all of that and share it broadly. There’s some countries that are committed to education programs for their youth. There are countries that are committed to volunteer programs for their youth. There are others that have committed to creating new youth councils and engaging with those youth councils. So it’s not always about money. It’s about engagement, it’s about communicating with each other, and it’s about sharing new ideas.

MS. HUGHES: And – so then I want to ask you and then each of the fellows to talk about this as well. Are you also engaging with civil society in these various countries? And has there been a discussion within the fellows and also with – at the State Department, at the Administration, about how civil society – human rights organizations, humanitarian organizations – fit into the idea of YALI, and then how they will play a role in this future that you’re talking about building?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Yeah. Civil society is a huge component of our engagement on the continent of Africa. We support vibrant and strong human rights organizations and civil society organizations in countries, and we’ve engaged with African leaders across the board about the importance of supporting civil society. And as you know, a component of the YALI program is civil society building. There are a number of fellows who are here to build their capacity on how to work in communities and promote civil society. So again, I think that’s going to be an important component for them when they return.

MS. HUGHES: And Sylvie, would you like to weigh in?

MS. TOUGOUMA: Yeah. I would like to mention that right here, we are making lot of connection, and especially at UVA and William and Mary. We are working with the Presidential Precinct, which is a consortium of the two first universities of Virginia and the three home of the founding fathers. And it’s a big network that connecting us with many teachers, member, leader of organizations. And we have been planning of what we are going to do after the fellowship. And even last week, we have a post – some posts in the Presidential Precinct network looking for some fellows to apply for some research at the Monticello architectural site.

And I think there is a future for the YALI program. It’s – institute is not the end. And I think we will be measure – measure it after the institute and not only during the institutes. We are making a lot of connection, and I think in six month, one years you are going to see the effects and the practical effects, and – I’m sure.

MS. HUGHES: So there’s a question that we got from the Google Hangout page from a young woman. She’s 16. Madeleine Barrett (ph), she’s from Washington D.C. And she asks – she says that it seems that many young people in the U.S. tend to think of Africa as one country, rather than individual countries with their own separate governments. Why do you think that is, and how do you think countries in Africa interact with each other? Do most African countries have good international relations with one another, and what can be done to improve international relations between different African countries?

MS. PREMPEH: Okay, if I can just answer that. I think that last week we had a meeting with the university president, and he asked us what our experience has been like. And the first thing I said was that I thought it was only in the movies that people thought Africa was one big country. But I think that is the beauty of this cultural exchange. It’s not just we learning from Americans, but Americans learning from us. There is a very component of our program, which is community service. And at first we didn’t quite understand why and the form it took, but the first time we went to a park there was a girls’ empowerment summer camp going on. And we got to interact with them, and they asked questions about Africa, like, “Do you speak African?” And it’s an opportunity for us to explain that there are so many countries in Africa with their own unique identities. So we are enjoying it. We are enjoying learning about America, and we are enjoying teaching people about the beautiful diversity and all the good things that are in Africa.

And yes, I think that there is a promising future for international relations between Africa as a continent, not as a country, and the rest of the world. Like President Obama said when he came to Africa – I think that was his first sub-Saharan visit, when came to Ghana. He said that what – in the 21st century, the future of the world is not going to be determined by what happens in Rome or Moscow or Washington. It’s also going to depend on what happens in Accra. The world is a global village now, and what affects one part affects the other.

MR. ALONGE: Okay. I find this question quite interesting, because last week we were discussing in the library for African-Americans, and one thing I noticed is that most young Americans actually know quite a lot about the continent. In fact, just two days ago I was speaking with a young lady – she’s aged 19 years – and she was reading out to me off the top of her head over 30 countries in Africa. So it appears people who actually think as Africa as one country seem to be over a certain age. Most young Americans are actually quite aware about the continent.

Also, as to her question as to how Africans relate with one another, I would come to it from the point of trade. It’s well known that Africa is a market of one billion people, but less than 10 percent of its trade is between African countries. If you look at China, over one billion people, India, most of Asia and Europe, and even the North America states, what you see is that trades amongst these continents is – within these continents is over 30 percent on average. So it’s something that she has identified very well. Africans are not trading well with one another. We prefer to import and trade with Asia and the other more advanced economies. And it’s actually an imperative for the African Union and all our political leaders to begin to bring down the barriers to trade across the continent. We need to be able to promote the economic – the regional economic groups across the continent, from the SADC to ECOWAS, so that we can integrate more and achieve scale economies for the various businesses located on the continent.

And one thing I always tell people, the reason why we see a lot of conflict in Africa is because we don’t trade with one another. There’s no reason why I would want to harm somebody who accounts for most of my income. So the more trade we have, the more stability we will see across the continent. So I must say thank you to the young lady who asked that question.

MS. HUGHES: Great. So we are just about out of time. I wanted to see if Sylvie wanted to say something as well.

MS. TOUGOUMA: Yes. I think that this young girl raised an important questions, and what came in mind is that this question called for African unity, African union. Because for a long time, our leaders are trying to come together, and I think it’s time for our leaders to break barriers between our countries and to work like United States. We can be united without conformity. I took the example of the United States’ 50-state model – 50 states, but they are together. And I really think that’s – it’s a call. This question of the young lady is a call of unity between African countries.

MS. HUGHES: Great. If Assistant Secretary Ryan and Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield would like to say a few closing remarks, that would be great.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RYAN: Thank you so much. This has been really exciting for me, and we’ve looked forward to this program for a long time. To be able to be on a Google Hangout right now with four of our fellows who are actually at the academic institutions makes it all the more exciting. And I just think it’s really wonderful to hear how it’s resonated with everyone, because our idea through this fellowship is to really offer the best that we have to offer in the United States, and that for the fellowship, it’s our academic institutions. And it sounds like you’ve had really wonderful experiences at your universities, and robust discussions about challenges that you all face and ways that we can all work together.

And the other thing that I think is so interesting to hear is this idea of how not only has this experience of the academic institutions been very fulfilling, but also this chance to network with Africans from other countries and to really network with one another. When you do return to your countries at home, to be able to have this network of connections from people all over the continent we hope will be as helpful as our continued work with you in terms of the embassies and our alumni. So I just think that this for us has been really heartening to hear, that we think all of our goals in terms of what this is offering – it seems like we’re right on track with you. So we just wanted to thank you all for your hard work and your participation in this program, because it really is exciting to listen to you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: And let me also thank you as well. Thank you for helping me get through my first Google Hangout experience. I’m looking forward to the next one. But I have just been really impressed by everything that all of you have said, and one of – the last conversation on the fact that you are also advocating in America for Africa, because my job as Assistant Secretary for African Affairs is made doubly difficult because Americans don’t know a lot about Africa. They see the bad things. So you have been great ambassadors for the continent in the communities that you are living in, to share your experiences, to share your knowledge with the communities about Africa. And I don’t think we realized that you were going to have that impact as well.

So again, I want to thank you; I want to encourage you. I will look forward to meeting all of you when I visit your countries over the next year. I know that you are on an exciting adventure and that your futures are bright, and that the continent is bright because of you. Thank you.

MS. HUGHES: And I would like to thank both Assistant Secretary Ryan and Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield and all of the fellows for participating, as well as all of you who have logged on and watched. If we did not get to your question, feel free to continue to submit them, and someone at the State Department will get back to you with an answer. Thanks so much for joining this Google Hangout on the YALI Network, and it’s been really fun.

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Africa: On the Occasion of the Republic of Cabo Verde’s National Day

From: U.S. Department of State
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 8, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I send best wishes to Cabo Verdeans as you celebrate 39 years of independence on July 5.

I spent more than 30 years representing Massachusetts as Lieutenant Governor and Senator, and I am proud of the historic connections and contributions of Cabo Verdeans throughout New England and across America. I was pleased to visit Cabo Verde for the first time in May, where I enjoyed meeting Foreign Minister Jose Brito.

The United States and Cabo Verde share many binding ties. Our second Millennium Challenge Corporation compact, worth over $66 million, is evidence of our continued commitment to a long-term relationship. We are also committed to deepening our partnership on a number of regional and maritime security issues.

We look to Cabo Verde as a leader in good governance, human rights, and renewable energy in Africa and celebrate the contributions of more than half a million Americans of Cabo Verdean descent.

The United States looks forward to continued collaboration in achieving our common goals. I wish all Cabo Verdeans peace and prosperity in the coming year.

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Africa: Mauritania’s Presidential Election

From: U.S. Department of State
Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 30, 2014

The United States congratulates the people of Mauritania on the successful completion of peaceful and orderly presidential elections on June 21. We greatly value our long-standing friendship and partnership with Mauritania and the Mauritanian people. The United States looks forward to continuing to work with President-elect Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and the Government of Mauritania to promote prosperity and regional security.

We also note Mauritania’s Chairmanship of the African Union and look forward to continuing to work with Mauritania to support an action-oriented U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

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By Agwanda Saye.

Over fifteen thousand people living within the five Counties of Kenya comprising Homa Bay,Kisumu ,Siaya and Narok in five geographical areas are beneficiaries of clean water courtesy of a United States of American non-profit public organization called Just One Africa.

Speaking in Kisumu County, while distributing free water filters and meals to Widowers, widows, schools and Orphans within one of the leading slums in Kenya called Obunga Slums, the President of the Organization Churchill Clay in the company of his wife Amy said that the purpose of the organization is to make difference in the lives of orphaned children and women in need.

“Through the disbursement of financial resources, intended to fulfill the basic needs of food, water, shelter, education and hope. It is the belief that as the basic needs are met individuals can grow to meet their full potential and Just One was established to be an advocate for this process” he added

Clay further added they see their role as being a provider of both financial support and education to help enrich the lives those whom we have the privilege of serving.

The organization is currently involved with two institutions; Lenkai School which is in Southern Kenya close to Amboseli and Mt. Kilimanjaro and Salem Orphanage Ministries which is located in Western Kenya on the shores of Lake Victoria.

“We have so far been able to distribute over seven hundred filters to Mbita,Amboseli,Homa Bay,Bondo and Kisuu geographical areas which makes the three Counties water filters to these locations providing 120 million gallons of clean water for over fifteen thousand people for life’ he added

He lamented that communities from these areas have struggled not only with access to water but with access to clean water but lauded his organization for being the first organization to bring in the Sawyer water filter to these areas and make clean water accessible to schools, villages, and even hospitals making Typhoid and other water borne diseases be a thing of the past as they begin to thrive.

So far Just One Africa has given out ninety thousand meals courtesy of the very generous SERVE International and we were able to distribute them to widows, in slums areas, and to those with HIV/AIDS who needed good nutritious food to take their medication with.

“In our current tour we will also conduct a free medical camp as well and we have brought school supplies and books for the children to use for their studies ensuring that their education will be higher quality and we have also brought countless other donations with us that abundantly blessed these communities and will leave a lasting impact on them for generations to come” he added

The organization together with youths from East Gate Church based in Atlanta Georgia led by their Pastor Geanne Wilde through Salem Orphanage Ministries had helped in the construction of a house at their own expenses for a widow within the county of Siaya and even bought two cows for rearing purposely for milk supply.

According to Bishop Pheobe Onyango the head of Salem Orphanage Ministries, their action was touched by the pathetic condition the old widow lived in and they volunteered to construct for her a house.

“I thank God for seeing me in old age, I now have a roof over my head which I never had “the widow said in joy.

USA: On Father’s Day:

From: President Barack Obama
The White House, Washington

Hi, everyone —

Today, I’m thinking about all the dads across the country, spending time with family and loved ones — and especially those fathers serving our country overseas, who can’t be home with their kids today.

But I’m also thinking about all the young people out there who don’t have a dad in their lives at all — or who don’t always enjoy the opportunities and support that come with having strong role models.

It reminds me why we started the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative in the first place: because we need to do more to help young people go as far as their dreams and hard work will take them, no matter what they look like or where they grow up.

I know I’m only here because people took a chance on me, and believed in me when I didn’t always believe in myself. And I want to give more kids that chance. It’s an all-hands-on-deck effort, from the folks on my staff — to you.

You can invest in our young people, and help them be successful. You can commit to doing it right now.

Make a pledge to mentor a young person in your community here.

For me, this is personal.

And for millions of young Americans around the country, it just might be life-changing.

Thank you — and Happy Father’s Day.

President Barack Obama

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Africa: U.S. Foreign Policy in Somalia

From: U.S. Department of State
Wendy R. Sherman
Under Secretary for Political Affairs
United States Institute of Peace
Washington, DC
June 3, 2014

UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: Well, it’s really wonderful to be here, and I must say it’s great to see Kristin Lord who’s acting as president – she acts at it quite well. But it’s also a real pleasure for me to be here with three of my Africa mentors – Ambassador George Moose, Ambassador Princeton Lyman, and Ambassador Johnnie Carson, and my current mentor, Assistant Secretary Linda Thomas-Greenfield. I am really privileged to have worked with all of these extraordinary public servants, and very much look forward to their reflections on what we are discussing today, because they are extraordinarily knowledgeable and among the most deft and skilled diplomats I have ever known in my life. So thank you all. I’m honored by your presence here today.

I also – my colleagues were teasing with me about whether the liability insurance was paid up here at USIP. It seems that it’s not just – when I went to Somalia, everything went fine. It was a difficult trip, but extraordinarily wonderful. But it seems I don’t have much success elsewhere. When I was up on Capitol Hill, as you may have read by a David Sanger piece, I managed to rupture my pinkie finger, which will never be the same again, going to give a secure briefing to members of Congress. And then when I was recently in Vienna on Iran negotiations, I sprained my ankle, which is why I am in flat shoes. And so I’m hopeful today will be all about the promise of Somalia and nothing will be fractured or broken in the process. (Laughter.)

My purpose today is to discuss American policy towards Somalia. Within the context of the Administration’s partnership with Africa and U.S. leadership more generally, something the President’s been speaking about of late, some of you may be asking: Why Somalia? Why a speech on Somalia? My answer is that 20 years ago – and I was at the State Department at the time – the United States essentially withdrew from this country. And now we are back working in close collaboration with the international community and bearing fervent hopes, tempered of course by ongoing concerns.

Our approach Somalia is distinctive for the simple reason that Africa today defies generalization. While parts of the continent remain mired in poverty and held back by conflict, seven of the world’s ten fastest growing economies are in Africa. Domestic markets are expanding rapidly in such urban hubs as Cape Town, Addis Ababa, and Lagos. Across the region examples abound of civil society thriving, health care improving, access to education growing, and life expectancy rising.

Under the President’s leadership, U.S. policy in Africa corresponds to this diversity. The African Growth and Opportunity Act promotes free markets, attracts investment, encourages trade, and facilities integration into the global economy. The Feed the Future program harnesses the power of the private sector to help small landholders and farmers learn business skills. The African Women’s Entrepreneurship program is accelerating the growth of women-owned businesses, and the President’s Young African Leaders initiative, one that I was able to join a couple of years ago. My staff said, “You need to go do this early in the morning.” I said, “Really?” I said, “Leave the building? Not go to the morning meetings? Go do this?” I want to tell you, as soon as I was in the room, I never wanted to leave again. The energy, the vibrancy, the vitality, the promise, the possibility was simply extraordinary. This Young African Leaders initiative is helping some of the continent’s most promising young people to fulfill their potential. These measures and much, much more will be on the agenda when in early-August President Obama welcomes nearly 50 African leaders to Washington for a historic summit.

Also under discussion at that time will be the efforts of African nations themselves with support from the United States and other partners how they are responding to an array of security challenges. With African states in the lead, America is backing initiatives to return safely more than 200 girls kidnapped in Nigeria, eradicate the loathsome Lord’s Resistance Army and disarm militias, end fighting, and support peace operations in strife-torn lands across the continent.

Last week in his commencement address at West Point, President Obama said he will ask Congress to create a new, $5 billion counterterrorism partnerships fund that will help build the capacity of our international partners to respond effectively to the terrorist threat. In his remarks, the President emphasized that the nature of this threat has evolved, and our strategy must keep pace with it.

The core of al-Qaida, the force responsible for 9/11, has been weakened. Danger remains, however, because of the emergence of groups with links to al-Qaida that have embraced the same destructive agenda. One such group is al-Shabaab, the Somali-based organization that continues to carry out attacks on innocent civilians both within and beyond Somalia’s borders.

In Somalia, as elsewhere, defeating a terrorist force requires a multi-faceted approach that makes clear not only what we are against, but also what we are for. And that is the subject I want to highlight today.

As members of this audience know, Somalia is both blessed and cursed by geography. Much of its territory is arid and inhospitable for farming and grazing. But the country’s strategic location and natural harbors have long made it a focus of international interest. In the modern era, it drew the attention first of colonial powers and then, after gaining independence, became embroiled in the Cold War chess game between East and West.

In the early 1990s, disaster arrived. Internal conflicts led to the closing of the U.S. and many other foreign embassies, a devastating shortage of food, the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force, the harrowing Battle of Mogadishu, and the dissolution of organized government. Almost overnight, the very word “Somalia” became a synonym for chaos.

During this period, hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee, factories were torn apart and sold as scrap, patriotic monuments were torn down, schools were closed, and gangs of armed thugs roamed the streets.

Calling home, famed Somali writer Nuruddin Farah was warned by his brother not to return. “Forget Somalia,” he was told, “consider it buried, dead.” Wrote Farah: “How full of tragedy is the instant when it dawns on one that one’s country does not exist anymore, either as an idea or as a physical reality.”

Not long ago, at the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya, I met a young twenty year old man. He told me he had spent his entire life in the camp – his entire life. He was born there and he was still there. Think about how narrow an experience that is, especially in this, the so-called age of globalization.

The depth of Somalia’s trauma should bring home to us the distance and the difficulty of the long road back, the precious nature of the opportunity now before us, the magnitude of what has already been achieved, and the staggering amount of hard work still ahead. To be clear, tomorrow, disaster could arrive again. But today, there are tangible reasons for hope.

In a campaign that started in 2011, African Union and government forces liberated the capital and a number of major cities and towns, some of which had been under al-Shabaab’s control for as long as seven years. In 2012, a new provisional constitution was adopted and a parliament sworn in. In September of that year, the legislators chose professor and civic activist Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as President. Meanwhile, a determined effort by governments and the shipping industry put many of Somalia’s pirates out of business. In Mogadishu, real estate prices are on the rise, seaport activity is increasing, once-shuttered businesses are re-opening, and new solar-powered lights have lifted spirits and lightened streets. Returning from overseas, former Somali expatriates are now serving as cabinet ministers and re-establishing themselves as entrepreneurs.

To borrow Achebe’s phrase, in Somalia twenty years ago, all things had fallen apart. But today, the outlook is improving because Somalis themselves have taken on the responsibility for reclaiming what was lost and rebuilding what was destroyed. They are the ones who have assumed the lead.

In response to this welcome trend, the United States in January 2013 recognized Somalia’s Government for the first time in 22 years. And in September international donors pledged over $2 billion in reconstruction aid to implement – excuse me – to implement the Somalia New Deal Compact, which in President Hassan Sheikh’s words, “will lay a strong foundation for building reliable, transparent, and accountable state institutions.”

At the same time, African countries have stepped up by supporting Somali security through AMISOM, the African Union Mission in Somalia. This is the type of robust regional action we have seen more and more – in South Sudan and the Great Lakes, where diplomatic initiatives are African-led; in Nigeria, where the depredations of Boko Haram recently prompted five African leaders to link arms in Paris in a resolute show of solidarity; and in the Central African Republic and other countries where AU – African Union peacekeepers have been deployed.

In Somalia, the national authorities have begun to take charge with help and support of their neighbors. The role of the world community, including the United States, is to encourage and nurture this process, and that is exactly what we are doing. As I speak, American officials are working closely with Somali leaders, civil society representatives, and a variety of international partners to help the nation come together and move ahead.

The reasons for our involvement are straightforward. First, we have an interest in helping all of Africa sustain its economic momentum and lengthen the roster of countries that contribute to stability, prosperity, and peace. Second, a secure and united Somalia would weaken the forces of extremism and terror that feed off one another and that threaten citizens in almost every country, including the United States. Third, an increasingly stable Somalia would enable two million refugees and internally displaced persons to begin returning to their homes, thus fueling growth domestically and easing political pressures in neighboring lands. Fourth, all maritime nations will benefit if the recent decline in piracy becomes permanent. Fifth, a stable and economically viable Somalia would reduce the intense strain put on Africa’s peacekeeping resources, thus making it easier over time for the region to respond to crises elsewhere.

And finally, there is a more personal element. Some 130,000 Americans are of Somali heritage, and of these many are deeply committed to the recovery and prosperity of their homeland. They show this commitment by advocating for Somalia and by sending money back to their loved ones. Today, an estimated one-third of the country’s total income is derived from remittances – one-third of the total income of the country. This reminds us how bleak the economic picture in Somalia remains. An estimated three million citizens lack secure supplies of food and 860,000 are in need of emergency help. One baby in ten dies at birth and, of the survivors, one in seven is severely malnourished. Of the adults, fewer than half are literate.

For too long, the people of Somalia have suffered from clan-based violence and civil strife. For too long, they have been scattered and unable to establish roots. Now is the best time, the best chance in a quarter century for them to realize the promise that accompanied their nation’s independence. In that quest, the United States is right where it should be: on Somalia’s side. And as we support the country’s progress, our strategy is centered on three key elements: security, governance, and development.

In our view, these topics are not separate, but reinforcing. Development is harder in a climate of fear and so is effective governance. Terrorism both generates anarchy and thrives within it. There is no direct correlation between poverty and extremism, but people engaged in building strong communities are usually too busy to hate. And in Somalia, hate is another name for al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab originated less than a decade ago as a militant youth group opposed to any effort to move Somalia toward stability and democracy. Its obstruction of humanitarian aid deliveries deepened the horror of a famine that, between 2010 and 2012, claimed more than a quarter million lives. As Somalis have rejected al-Shabaab’s radical ideas, the group has sought notoriety beyond the country’s borders – orchestrating a bombing that killed 74 soccer fans in Kampala and the murder of 67 men and women at a shopping mall, Westgate, in Nairobi.

The job of degrading and defeating al-Shabaab belongs jointly to the Somali National Army and AMISOM, with support from the United States and other international partners. Over the past three years, these forces made impressive gains in driving al-Shabaab from its strongholds in Mogadishu and numerous towns in south and central Somalia. These victories caused a shift in momentum that must now be sustained.

But as daily headlines attest, al-Shabaab is still a potent threat. It continues to target government officials and humanitarian staff and to hinder the provision of basic services. Last month it carried out bombings in Mogadishu and Baidoa, and just a week ago Saturday launched a multipronged attack on the nation’s parliament, a strike that failed due to the efforts of AMISOM and Somali forces.

Our strategy for helping Somalia defend itself begins with our firm support for AMISOM’s stabilizing role. Last year we endorsed wholeheartedly a UN Security Council decision to enlarge the mission by more than 4,000 troops, thus enabling it and the Somali Army to resume offensive operations. Overall, since 2007 we have contributed more than half a billion dollars in training, equipment, and logistical support. The many African countries that participated in the mission deserve enormous credit. It is a long and wonderful list, and Somali leaders are deeply appreciative of the sacrifices they have made. The UN also plays a central role in backing AMISOM, but every stakeholder agrees that the mission cannot continue indefinitely. Our shared goal is to help Somalia develop more capable security forces of its own.

To that end, the United States is assisting the Somali National Army. In recent years, the State Department has obligated more than $170 million to help recruit and train forces that will be able to protect the country’s institutions and citizens, operate under civilian control, fairly represent Somalia’s population, and respect human rights and international law. In this connection, I note that the army recently approved a code of conduct that prohibits employing soldiers under the age of 18. I note as well that some 1,500 women are now members of that force.

As one element of our support, a small contingent of U.S. military personnel – including some special operations forces – have been present in parts of Somalia for several years. In the past, their activities focused primarily on information sharing and advising AMISOM in its efforts to counter the threat from al-Qaida and al-Shabaab. Today these personnel continue that mission but have also begun to work with the Somali National Army. In addition, last fall the Department of Defense established a small team in Mogadishu to coordinate with related efforts by the international community to help AMISOM and Somali forces.

The aid we provide includes training support for the Somali advanced infantry company, also known as “Danab” – the Lightning Force. This is a 150-person unit that we believe can become a source of future leadership for the entire army. I know from my own conversations with Somali leaders that it makes a difference to the army’s morale that the United States cares enough to assist them, and I know for a fact that there is no better source of instruction for any armed force than the U.S. military.

Additionally, as President Obama noted in his speech, our partnerships do not altogether eliminate the need for direct action to protect American lives. From time to time the U.S. military has conducted such action in Somalia against a limited number of targets, who, based on information about their current and historical activities, have been determined to be part of al-Qaida. And in the future, we may take action against threats that pose a continuing imminent threat to U.S. persons. These strikes will be conducted under the highest operational standards, including the requirement of near certainty that civilians will not be injured or killed by our actions. The goal of our military assistance to Somalia is to enhance the country’s security, and by so doing contribute to its political and economic development. The campaign against al-Shabaab is an essential part of Somalia’s struggle to recover. Equally critical, however, is progress in establishing governing institutions that are capable and credible. The good news is that Somalis have a clear idea of what they would like to achieve. This is laid out in their Vision 2016 document and in the New Deal Compact developed jointly with the international community.

Somalia now has an interim parliament, a president, and a prime minister, and a roadmap calling for a permanent constitution and national elections. Despite this, it is true that its federal governing institutions remain in their infancy. This is all quite new. Virtually every component of public administration must be rebuilt. That is why the United States is furnishing assistance to the Somali parliament and to key ministries for the purpose of professionalizing operations and training personnel, why AMISOM recently conducted an executive leadership and management course for 80 senior civil servants, and why the UN has established a strong political presence in Somalia.

Since the United States recognized the new government, we have given more than $315 million in bilateral aid. Our contributions are designed to strengthen both the public and private sectors, create jobs, increase access to modern technology, and improve the climate for key industries such as agriculture, livestock, and energy. USAID is working to increase opportunities for women and it has rehabilitated markets in 16 towns, turning unsanitary eyesores into clean, comfortable, and orderly commercial stalls. We are also collaborating with our partners to prevent the resurgence of polio and to reinvigorate the justice sector, including the Somali national police and courts.

In addition, our assistance is helping to equip 160,000 young Somalis with education and skills they will need to participate in the workforce. This is vital because, like many African countries, Somalia is remarkably young. The median age is less than half that of the United States. We are at 35 years of age; Somalia’s median is 17. Because the median age is less than half that of the United States, this creates an imperative for the nation’s leaders that can be understood by any parent – how to channel youthful energy in a positive direction.

Make no mistake, the list of challenges Somalia must address is long. As in any place where government institutions are underdeveloped, crime and corruption are severe problems. Political infighting and clan disputes have caused the country to lag behind its own timetable for reform. There’s also a pressing requirement for transparency and financial management so the government can earn trust both domestically and globally. The recent appointment of a financial governance committee and also of central bank officials are significant and important first steps.

Another priority is to ensure that when al-Shabaab is pushed out of an area, it is replaced by a governing presence that can protect citizens and instill optimism. This task is complicated by the fact that when local populations return to such areas, they often find that terrorists have stripped them of infrastructure, food, and supplies. The United States is supporting quick impact projects in these areas. But although external assistance is essential, so is inclusive government and local participation in setting priorities. If the Somali nation is to come together, the newly liberated towns must be part of it, not islands unto themselves.

Yet a further challenge to Somalia’s development is posed by its regional fragmentation. Although the country’s population is less ethnically diverse than many in Africa, its people still possess strong local affinities and clan loyalties. Somaliland in the north, for example, sought to distance itself from the tumult elsewhere by establishing its own governing structures. Neighboring Puntland also has a high degree of autonomy. Moving forward, leaders must preserve the strengths of these regional administrations while also reconciling them with Somalia’s national identity.

The appropriate means for accomplishing this include dialogue, the ballot box, and the judicial process. The United States believes that a stable federal Somalia with a credible national government in Mogadishu is in the best interest of all Somalis, but to achieve this, there must be a willingness to compromise on every side. It is critical that issues of authority and jurisdiction be settled because investors will be reluctant to make commitments if there is confusion about who is in charge. One possible model is the method by which an agreement was reached last year between the national government and the interim administration in Jubaland. This pact delineates federal and state authorities and provides a framework for managing resources and controlling revenue.

The United States will remain actively engaged with both national and regional leaders to strengthen institutions and promote cooperation on every level. Looking ahead, the pivotal test for Somalia will not be procuring more assistance from the world community or even defeating al-Shabaab. The truly defining test will be an internal one. Somalis have to decide whether they want to exist as disparate clans isolated from the world and in conflict with one another, or as a united country with all the attributes, benefits, and responsibilities that such unity brings. None of us can make that choice for Somalia.

But Somalis should know if they choose to continue to come together, they will have enthusiastic and substantial international support. Currently, America’s diplomatic team in Somalia is led by U.S. Special Representative Jim – James McAnulty. I said Jim because that’s what I think of him as – an ambassador equivalent based in Nairobi, who along with other U.S. personnel travels back and forth frequently to Somalia. The United States has not had a formal ambassador to Mogadishu since we closed our mission on January 5th, 1991. I can tell you today that this will be changing. As a reflection both of our deepening relationship with the country and of our faith that better times are ahead, the President will propose the first U.S. ambassador to Somalia in more than two decades. We indeed look forward to the day when both nations have full-fledged diplomatic missions in the capital of the other.

I said earlier that U.S. policy towards Somalia was based not solely on what we are against, but more importantly, what we are for. So in closing, let me just say that America is for a Somalia where children are born healthy and immunized against deadly disease; a Somalia where families are able to eat more than a single meal each day and where the water they drink won’t harm them; a Somalia where every boy and girl has access to an education; a Somalia where women and men are able to walk without fear; and where citizens have faith in their government because freedom has meaning and the rights of all are respected.

In his memoir, Nuruddin Farah wrote of the high value Somalis put on having a home, a place that, in his words, “affords a greater sense of privacy, of self-honor, and dignity.” Friends and colleagues, the path ahead remains rocky and uphill, but let us all have faith that the day will arrive when the people of Somalia are able to fully reclaim their home and to know once again the honor and dignity that comes with that sense of ownership.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Ambassador Sherman, let me be the first to congratulate you on a excellent speech on Somalia, and also for what appears to be the announcement of a new U.S. ambassador to that country for the first time in two decades.

I’ll start by asking one or two questions but quickly move to the audience. In the last several days, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization has issued a report that states that Somalia is once again on the threshold of a major famine. My question is: How serious do you think this is likely to be? What is the U.S. doing right now to avert it? And would such a famine, if it gets out of control, undermine some of the confidence in the current government and undermine some of the stability in Somalia that has been achieved?

UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: A very simple question from Ambassador Carson. (Laughter.)

Of course we are concerned, and we have been concerned forever about famine in Somalia because, as I said, there is a great deal of Somalia that is arid – that food cannot be grown, and food security is enormously important. And in places, as I mentioned in the speech, where al-Shabaab has been, often whatever food was available has been stolen, taken, consumed, gone. The United States gives a fair amount of aid to Somalia, is looking at ways that we can further address the food security issues. Feed the Future program is very active in Somalia both in terms of funds and helping to build capacity, which is critical, because we all know that the real solution is a growing economy where you can’t grow food; you can import food. And as I said, agriculture is one of the areas in which we are putting a lot of our efforts to grow that sector and to grow that capacity.

There is no doubt that a true famine will further increase the insecurity of Somalia, and so the United States, which is the single largest contributor to the World Food Program, hopes that all of those appeals are met by the international community, and we are doing whatever we can to ensure that the international community responds and responds to FAO’s recent report, and that we help in whatever way we can to meet this demand. It is quite crucial.

And it is indeed, I think – if I make no other point in the remarks today, it is that all of these elements are integrated. I think that is what the President was trying to convey in his speech at West Point, which is when you have situations of a country like Somalia which is plagued by so much that is difficult and has been really nonexistent for two decades, one has to work in every sector in every way to deal with governance, to deal with terrorism, to deal with security, to deal with political development. And it is a long and complicated and difficult process, but what I found most extraordinary in my visit to Somalia was it has gotten underway, it is happening – with great difficulty, two steps forward and maybe three steps backwards from time to time, but it is proceeding forward, and it is no easy task.

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Ambassador Sherman, before we go to the audience, I’d like to raise a regional question and ask: What has been the impact of the Kenyan decision to crack down on illegal Somalis in that country, the impact in Kenya and the impact in Somalia?

UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: First I want to say that Kenya has welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees from Somalia. I’ve been to Dadaab; I’m sure many of the people in this audience have been. I know you have, Ambassador Carson. And none of us would want to be that 20-year-old who has only known a refugee camp. But I think we all have to be grateful for what Kenya has done to welcome refugees into Kenya and to provide – try to provide a home until there can be a full repatriation to Somalia on a voluntary basis.

We of course would urge Kenya to continue its long history of treating refugees with dignity, within the rule of law, and to ensure their security. And the Kenyan police are a very, in many ways, sophisticated force. We rely on them in our Embassy in Nairobi for security and they are always there to help. And we would urge that the Kenyans look at any incident that has come to fore – we’ve seen all of these reports – take it seriously as they have done in the past, and try to ensure that refugees are given the most dignity possible. No one wants to be a refugee. No one chooses to be one.

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Thank you. We’re going to move to the audience, and we do have a very tight window. Questions should be short and specific, not long commentary. One question here, sir. You’ve had your hand up. Identify yourself, please.

QUESTION: Mark Tavlarides with the Podesta Group. The President’s launched a go-to-school initiative to put a million kids in school. Just wondering if you could just tell us a little bit about the importance the U.S. attaches to that initiative and what we’re doing to help them in that area.

UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: I think education is absolutely critical. We think access to education is critical; we have supported educational support as part of our programming through USAID, and I think that we all know everywhere in the world education is critical for the development of a country. I think what horrified everyone about what happened to the schoolgirls in Nigeria – and I think most of you in this audience know that Boko Haram has been killing and kidnapping people for some time and the world had not quite caught on to what was happening, and painfully and horrifically it took over 200 schoolgirls being kidnapped for the world to understand the risks and what was occurring in northern Nigeria. And I think what horrified all of us who have children is to imagine that the simple act of going to school – the simple act of going to school, of a girl getting an education – would mean that she should be kidnapped and in essence put into slavery is horrifying. And so education is critical for every country across the continent, and obviously in Somalia very much so.


QUESTION: Morning. My name is Mohamed Ali, Somali American Peace Council. It was a beautiful speech. We appreciate what you did and what my new country is doing for Somalia.

My question is: Why don’t we empower Somali Americans like our organization and others all over the country, because we have good projects and we are willing to go back and help the country? For instance, we have a project called Sports for Peace, and the idea is to counterbalance the terrorists. As an ex-basketball coach myself when I was a teenager back home, I’m planning to go back this summer and trying to help. We get the approval by the IRS, the tax exempt, but the USAID rules working the – like our project, but the red tape of the government is still there. So if there’s way you can empower us, maybe even waive those red tapes so we can go and help Somalia? Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: Well, I think it’s terrific that you have an organization that is working in Somalia and working with Somalis; that as an expatriate, folks have come together to see what they can do. I know that every nongovernmental organization thinks there’s too much U.S. red tape. I think that’s a given. But we have that red tape for transparency, for good governance; for ensuring how things are happening, make sure it fits into an integral program, supports the objectives of the Somali Government. So I apologize for the red tape, but it is there for a reason, and I’m sure that we’re doing whatever we can.

But I want to say that it takes all of us in whatever role we’re in – the private sector – that means companies, investors – non-governmental organizations that do their own philanthropy, as well as governments like the United States to support the primary leader, which is the Somalis themselves.

QUESTION: Thank you, Under Secretary Sherman, for a very substantive presentation. My question goes to the issue of timing. I’m Bernadette Paolo from the Africa Society. We’ve seen recently that African governments – their response to terrorism has either been ineffective or ill-timed, and waiting for the African Union and the United Nations often – that delay causes additional problems. So with the African heads of state summit coming, do you think it’s possible for preventative mechanisms to be put in place, or a security response – an early response so that we don’t have this lag time, and better cooperation and coordination among the international community and African countries? Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: Well first of all, let me say I think things have come a very long way from where they once were. There is capacity in Africa that has never existed before, and I tried to give some examples where you have African-led regional organizations that have stepped up – whether that was in Mali; whether that is in CAR; whether that is in Sudan, South Sudan; in Somalia – really throughout five heads of state. I was in Paris for the Nigerian summit – five heads of states joining arms for border security and for trying to take on a task collectively and bring each of their strengths to the table.

So I think there’s been enormous progress. And what our job should be is to nurture the development of those regional organizations to develop the capacity of Africa themselves. There have been a lot of creative ideas about that, about how to build an African force that would be permanent on the continent and able to respond quickly to crises. And I think all of these ideas I’m sure will be in discussion at sessions at the Africa summit. But I think the most important thing we can do is build the capacity of Africans themselves, because they are right there and then can do the job, as opposed to wait for a Security Council resolution getting troops to come. All of that takes time and there’s no way to cut that time short, because people do it on a voluntary basis – troop-contributing countries.

QUESTION: Thank you so much, Ambassador Sherman. My name is Cindy Waite) and I’m a Charles B. Rangel fellow, and will be entering the Foreign Service in the summer of 2016.


QUESTION: Thank you so much. Thank you again for your remarks. And I’m really interested – you made a huge announcement that the President will propose the first ambassador in over 20 years to Somalia. I’m interested —

UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: You interested? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I’m sorry. I’m interested if you could just say a few remarks to those of us who will be entering the diplomatic corps and are so excited to serve worldwide, what it might look like in a few years – I know you can’t tell the future, but what that region – what it might look like to serve there, how many people are currently serving there, what a small embassy would look like in the beginning stages, et cetera. Thank you so much.

UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: Probably either Ambassador Carson or Assistant Secretary Greenfield can tell you how many people are serving there. I don’t know. Do either of you know off the top of your head how many people serve in Africa?




UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: Well, Somalia we don’t have a permanent presence.


UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: Gosh, we have thousands of people serving in Africa.


UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: So – did you hear? Thirty-seven – because I don’t know – Linda doesn’t have a microphone on. Thirty-seven hundred serving overseas. And Assistant Secretary Greenfield was also the director general of the State Department, so she knows about personnel. And about a dozen in Nairobi who serve our efforts in Somalia, as well as people who come in and out on what we call TDY, which you will come to understand means when people from Washington and elsewhere come to serve a particular mission for a period of time.

I think serving in Africa is a tremendously exciting proposition. As I said, seven of the 10 largest and fastest growing economies – fastest growing, not largest – but fastest growing economies are in Africa. The youth population in Africa is both a challenge, but it also is energy that beats the band. I think we had something like – I forget – 500 slots and 50,000 people, young people apply by email to have one of those Young African Leader Initiative slots. So it is filled with energy and excitement and possibility, also is filled with conflict and danger and difficulty and painstaking and sometimes way-too-slow progress. But that is life as we all know it. So congratulations, you’ve got a great future ahead of you.

AMBASSADOR CARSON: The gentleman in the back on the left.

QUESTION: My name is Stephen Druhot. I’m a business person. I do business both in Somaliland and in Somalia. And you mentioned, Ambassador Carson, the impending possibility of a famine in that area again. Currently, the United States does have a pre-positioning warehouse in Djibouti and they have funding in the farm bill. And if this is going to happen, which is being predicted to happen, you could easily begin to move the cargo out of Djibouti towards Mogadishu at the same time you move the cargo from the United States into Djibouti because neither will be able to quell the impending disaster. It’s a solution, not a question. (Laughter.)

UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: Well, thank you very much for your expertise, and thank you for the work that you do. As I said, the private sector is a critical partner, so thank you for what you do in Somaliland and Somalia as a whole. Thank you.

QUESTION: Hi, I’m Dana Hughes from ABC News. I have two questions. One, if you could give any kind of a timeline for when the President plans to name this ambassador, and will that ambassador be part of the team in Nairobi?

The second question I have is: When Shabaab fell in Kismayo and Mogadishu, intelligence analysts had a real fear that they would simply spread out. With the attacks in Westgate and the continued attacks in Kenya, the attacks in Djibouti, has that fear been realized? And how does that influence U.S. security policy not just in Somalia but in the region as a whole? Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: So for your – in answer to your first question, when will the U.S. ambassador be named, I will give you government speak: Soon. (Laughter.) And that ambassador will begin working out of Nairobi. We have an office in Mogadishu in the airport compound, and I would hope that in the years ahead, as I said, that we will see a full presence both in Somalia and by the Somalis here in Washington. It’ll take some time, but we take this in a step-by-step approach.

Secondly, in terms of al-Shabaab, yes, many analysts were concerned that as they were pushed out of not only Kismayo and Mogadishu but in villages, they would bleed into the community and then just wait for the next opportunity or go someplace else, which they clearly have done. It’s why this has to be a regional approach. Terror is not about a location. It is about really a regional response that is not just country specific, because it has to do with the security of borders, it has to do with economic development, it has to with growth, it has to do with basic security and government services. There’s a whole cavalcade of integrated efforts that have to go forward to put terror on its back foot for the long term and allow the good forces of people being able to live their daily lives to come forward.

There has been a step taken in the right direction – more than one step – by Somalis themselves. But as I’ve said, this is still an uphill struggle, and I cannot tell you that tomorrow, the day after I’ve given this speech, some awful event will not happen, because al-Shabaab is clearly still present not only in Somalia but in the neighboring countries. So this is an effort that we are taking on collectively in support not only of the Somalis but of the Kenyans, the Djiboutians, and everyone else in the region and in the continent.

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Ambassador Sherman, we have a hard stop at —


AMBASSADOR CERSON: — 12 o’clock and we have reached that moment. I, on behalf of the acting president of USIP, on behalf of the institution itself , want to thank you enormously for coming here this morning to talk about Somalia and Africa. It has been a pleasure to listen to you and to hear the progress that has been made in our policy in that country. And it’s a pleasure to see you again as well.

UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: Thank you all very much, and do whatever you can – every single one of you in this audience – to support the Somalis in the journey they are taking themselves and the progress they have made and all of the progress that must be yet to come. I thank you all for however you can contribute to that. Your government can do only so much. It really will take everyone in support of the Somali Government for them to do what they are trying to do for themselves. Thank you very much.

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Thank you. (Applause.)

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USA, D.o.State: Detention of Human Rights Lawyer and Journalist in Swaziland

From: U.S. Department of State
Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 6, 2014

The United States is deeply concerned by the continued detention of human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko and journalist Bheki Makhubu in the Kingdom of Swaziland. Maseko and Makhubu were first arrested in March and are being held on charges of contempt of court for publishing an article critical of the High Court of Swaziland.

The United States urges the judiciary of the Kingdom of Swaziland to recognize its obligation to uphold the rule of law and provisions regarding the protection and promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland. We call upon the Government of Swaziland to swiftly resolve the cases of Maseko and Makhubu in accordance with the law, including international obligations entitling them to trial within a reasonable time or release and setting forth the minimum requirements for a fair trial without undue delay.

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USA: Great Society Speech By Pres Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964

From: Yona Maro

LBJ “Great Society” Speech (ORIGINAL)

President Hatcher, Governor Romney, Senators McNamara and Hart, Congressmen Meader and Staebler, and other members of the fine Michigan delegation, members of the graduating class, my fellow Americans:

It is a great pleasure to be here today. This university has been coeducational since 1870, but I do not believe it was on the basis of your accomplishments that a Detroit high school girl said (and I quote), “In choosing a college, you first have to decide whether you want a coeducational school or an educational school.” Well, we can find both here at Michigan, although perhaps at different hours. I came out here today very anxious to meet the Michigan student whose father told a friend of mine that his son’s education had been a real value. It stopped his mother from bragging about him.

I have come today from the turmoil of your capital to the tranquility of your campus to speak about the future of your country. The purpose of protecting the life of our Nation and preserving the liberty of our citizens is to pursue the happiness of our people. Our success in that pursuit is the test of our success as a Nation.

For a century we labored to settle and to subdue a continent. For half a century we called upon unbounded invention and untiring industry to create an order of plenty for all of our people. The challenge of the next half century is whether we have the wisdom to use that wealth to enrich and elevate our national life, and to advance the quality of our American civilization.

Your imagination and your initiative and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth. For in your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.

The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time. But that is just the beginning.

The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community. It is a place where man can renew contact with nature. It is a place which honors creation for its own sake and for what is adds to the understanding of the race. It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods.

But most of all, the Great Society is not a safe harbor, a resting place, a final objective, a finished work. It is a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor.

So I want to talk to you today about three places where we begin to build the Great Society — in our cities, in our countryside, and in our classrooms.

Many of you will live to see the day, perhaps 50 years from now, when there will be 400 million Americans — four-fifths of them in urban areas. In the remainder of this century urban population will double, city land will double, and we will have to build homes and highways and facilities equal to all those built since this country was first settled. So in the next 40 years we must re-build the entire urban United States.

Aristotle said: “Men come together in cities in order to live, but they remain together in order to live the good life.” It is harder and harder to live the good life in American cities today. The catalog of ills is long: there is the decay of the centers and the despoiling of the suburbs. There is not enough housing for our people or transportation for our traffic. Open land is vanishing and old landmarks are violated. Worst of all expansion is eroding these precious and time honored values of community with neighbors and communion with nature. The loss of these values breeds loneliness and boredom and indifference.

And our society will never be great until our cities are great. Today the frontier of imagination and innovation is inside those cities and not beyond their borders. New experiments are already going on. It will be the task of your generation to make the American city a place where future generations will come, not only to live, but to live the good life. And I understand that if I stayed here tonight I would see that Michigan students are really doing their best to live the good life.

This is the place where the Peace Corps was started.

It is inspiring to see how all of you, while you are in this country, are trying so hard to live at the level of the people.

A second place where we begin to build the Great Society is in our countryside. We have always prided ourselves on being not only America the strong and America the free, but America the beautiful. Today that beauty is in danger. The water we drink, the food we eat, the very air that we breathe, are threatened with pollution. Our parks are overcrowded, our seashores overburdened. Green fields and dense forests are disappearing.

A few years ago we were greatly concerned about the “Ugly American.” Today we must act to prevent an ugly America.

For once the battle is lost, once our natural splendor is destroyed, it can never be recaptured. And once man can no longer walk with beauty or wonder at nature his spirit will wither and his sustenance be wasted.

A third place to build the Great Society is in the classrooms of America. There your children’s lives will be shaped. Our society will not be great until every young mind is set free to scan the farthest reaches of thought and imagination. We are still far from that goal. Today, 8 million adult Americans, more than the entire population of Michigan, have not finished 5 years of school. Nearly 20 million have not finished 8 years of school. Nearly 54 million — more than one quarter of all America — have not even finished high school.

Each year more than 100,000 high school graduates, with proved ability, do not enter college because they cannot afford it. And if we cannot educate today’s youth, what will we do in 1970 when elementary school enrollment will be 5 million greater than 1960? And high school enrollment will rise by 5 million. And college enrollment will increase by more than 3 million.

In many places, classrooms are overcrowded and curricula are outdated. Most of our qualified teachers are underpaid and many of our paid teachers are unqualified. So we must give every child a place to sit and a teacher to learn from. Poverty must not be a bar to learning, and learning must offer an escape from poverty.

But more classrooms and more teachers are not enough. We must seek an educational system which grows in excellence as it grows in size. This means better training for our teachers. It means preparing youth to enjoy their hours of leisure as well as their hours of labor. It means exploring new techniques of teaching, to find new ways to stimulate the love of learning and the capacity for creation.

These are three of the central issues of the Great Society. While our Government has many programs directed at those issues, I do not pretend that we have the full answer to those problems. But I do promise this: We are going to assemble the best thought and the broadest knowledge from all over the world to find those answers for America.

I intend to establish working groups to prepare a series of White House conferences and meetings — on the cities, on natural beauty, on the quality of education, and on other emerging challenges. And from these meetings and from this inspiration and from these studies we will begin to set our course toward the Great Society.

The solution to these problems does not rest on a massive program in Washington, nor can it rely solely on the strained resources of local authority. They require us to create new concepts of cooperation, a creative federalism, between the National Capital and the leaders of local communities.

Woodrow Wilson once wrote: “Every man sent out from his university should be a man of his Nation as well as a man of his time.”

Within your lifetime powerful forces, already loosed, will take us toward a way of life beyond the realm of our experience, almost beyond the bounds of our imagination.

For better or for worse, your generation has been appointed by history to deal with those problems and to lead America toward a new age. You have the chance never before afforded to any people in any age. You can help build a society where the demands of morality, and the needs of the spirit, can be realized in the life of the Nation.

So, will you join in the battle to give every citizen the full equality which God enjoins and the law requires, whatever his belief, or race, or the color of his skin?

Will you join in the battle to give every citizen an escape from the crushing weight of poverty?

Will you join in the battle to make it possible for all nations to live in enduring peace — as neighbors and not as mortal enemies?

Will you join in the battle to build the Great Society, to prove that our material progress is only the foundation on which we will build a richer life of mind and spirit?

There are those timid souls that say this battle cannot be won; that we are condemned to a soulless wealth. I do not agree. We have the power to shape the civilization that we want. But we need your will and your labor and your hearts, if we are to build that kind of society.

Those who came to this land sought to build more than just a new country. They sought a new world. So I have come here today to your campus to say that you can make their vision our reality. So let us from this moment begin our work so that in the future men will look back and say: It was then, after a long and weary way, that man turned the exploits of his genius to the full enrichment of his life.

Thank you. Good-bye.

Source: The speech above was delivered by President Johnson as a commencement (graduation) speech at the University of Michigan on May 22, 1964.

Yona Fares Maro
Institut d’études de sécurité – SA

Africa: Cameroon National Day

From: U.S. Department of State
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 19, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I congratulate the people of Cameroon as you celebrate your national day on May 20.

The United States and Cameroon have enjoyed a productive relationship since we first established diplomatic relations in 1960. Our bond has strengthened over the years, in part through our shared commitment to support peace and stability in central Africa.

Our governments work together on many fronts. We are working to curtail illicit trafficking. We are working to protect the environment. We are working to improve maritime security. We are working to address the threat posed by terrorism. And we are working to support the stabilization of the Central African Republic through the provision of U.S. equipment and training to Cameroonian troops deployed there as peacekeepers.

Our trade and economic relationship continues to grow as U.S. investment in Cameroon steadily rises. As Cameroon prepares to celebrate 42 years of unity, we welcome the opportunity to strengthen our partnership. Together, we can help bring greater security and greater prosperity to the entire continent.

I offer you my best wishes on this important anniversary. The United States looks forward to continued cooperation to promote democracy, human rights, and shared prosperity in Cameroon and across the region.

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