president obama: hey! audience: hey! president obama: habari zenu! (applause) wakenya mpo? it is greatto be back in kenya. thank you so much for thisextraordinary welcome. i know it took a few years,but as president i try to keep my promises, and i said i wasgoing to come, and i'm here.
everybody, go aheadand have a seat. i'm going to betalking for a while. (laughter) relax. i want to thank my sister, auma,for a wonderful introduction. i'm so glad that she couldbe with us here today. and it was -- as she said,it was auma who first guided me through kenyaalmost 30 years ago. to president kenyatta, iwant to thank you once again
for the hospitality thatyou've shown to me -- -- and for our worktogether on this visit, and for being here today.it's a great honor. i am proud to be thefirst american president to come to kenya -- -- and, of course, i'mthe first kenyan-american to be president ofthe united states. (laughter and applause) that goes without saying.
audience member:i love you, obama! president obama:i love you back. i do. but, as auma wassaying, the first time i came to kenya, thingswere a little different. when i arrived atkenyatta airport, the airline lost my bags. that doesn't happenon air force one. they always have myluggage on air force one.
as she said, aumapicked me up in an old volkswagon beetle, andthink the entire stay i was here it broke downfour or five times. we'd be on the highway,we'd have to call the juakali -- he'dbring us tools. we'd be sittingthere, waiting. and i slept on a cotin her apartment. instead of eating atfancy banquets with the president, we were drinkingtea and eating ugali --
-- and sukumawiki. so there wasn't alot of luxury. sometimes thelights would go out. they still do -- isthat what someone said? but there was somethingmore important than luxury on that first trip,and that was a sense of being recognized, being seen. i was a young man and i was justa few years out of university. i had worked as a communityorganizer in low-income
neighborhoods in chicago. i was about to goto law school. and when i came here, inmany ways i was a westerner, i was an american, unfamiliarwith my father and his birthplace, really disconnectedfrom half of my heritage. and at that airport, as i wastrying to find my luggage, there was a woman there whoworked for the airlines, and she was helpingfill out the forms, and she saw my name and shelooked up and she asked
if i was related to myfather, who she had known. and that was the first timethat my name meant something. and thatwas recognized. and over the courseof several weeks, i'd meet my brothersand aunts and uncles. i traveled to alego, the villagewhere my family was from. i saw the graves of myfather and my grandfather. and i learned thingsabout their lives that i could have neverlearned through books.
and in many ways, their livesoffered snapshots of kenya's history, but they also told ussomething about the future. my grandfather, for example,he was a cook for the british. and as i went through someof his belongings when i went up-country, i foundthe passbook he had had to carry as adomestic servant. it listed his age andhis height, his tribe, listed the number ofteeth he had missing. and he was referredto as a boy,
even though he was a grownman, in that passbook. and he was in the king'safrican rifles during the second world war, andwas taken to the far reaches of the british empire --all the way to burma. and back home after the war,he was eventually detained for a time because he waslinked to a group that opposed british rule. and eventuallyhe was released. he forged a home forhimself and his family.
he earned the respectof his village, lived a life of dignity --although he had a well-earned reputation for being so strictthat everybody was scared of him and he became estrangedfrom part of his family. so that was his story. and then my father cameof age as kenyans were pursuing independence, andhe was proud to be a part of that liberationgeneration. and next to mygrandfather's papers,
i found letters that hehad written to 30 american universities asking for achance to pursue his dream and get a scholarship. and ultimately, one universitygave him that chance -- the university in hawaii. and he would go on to get aneducation and then return home. and here, at first he foundsuccess as an economist and worked with the government. but ultimately, he founddisappointment -- in part
because he couldn't reconcilethe ideas that he had for his young country withthe hard realities that had confronted him. and i think sometimes aboutwhat these stories tell us, what the history and the pasttell us about the future. they show the enormousbarriers to progress that so many kenyans faced justone or two generations ago. this is a young country. we were talking lastnight at dinner --
the president's father wasthe first president. we're only ageneration removed. and the daily limitations --and sometimes humiliations -- of colonialism --that's recent history. the corruption and cronyismand tribalism that sometimes confront young nations-- that's recent history. but what these storiesalso tell us is an arch of progress -- from foreignrule to independence; from isolation to education,and engagement with
a wider world. it speaks ofincredible progress. so we have to knowthe history of kenya, just as we americans have toknow our american history. all people have to understandwhere they come from. but we also have toremember why these lessons are important. we know a history so thatwe can learn from it. we learn our history becausewe understand the sacrifices
that were made before, so thatwhen we make sacrifices we understand we're doing it onbehalf of future generations. there's a proverb that says,"we have not inherited this land from our forebears,we have borrowed it from our children." in other words, we studythe past so it can guide us into the future, andinspire us to do better. and when it comes to the peopleof kenya -- particularly the youth -- i believe there is nolimit to what you can achieve.
a young, ambitious kenyan todayshould not have to do what my grandfather did, andserve a foreign master. you don't need to dowhat my father did, and leave your home in orderto get a good education and access to opportunity. because of kenya's progress,because of your potential, you can build your futureright here, right now. now, like anycountry, kenya is far from perfect, butit has come so far
in just my lifetime. after a bitter struggle,kenyans claimed their independence just a fewyears after i was born. and after decadesof one party-rule, kenya embraced a multi-partysystem in the 1990s, just as i was beginningmy own political career in the united states. tragically, justunder a decade ago, kenya was nearly torn apartby violence at the same time
that i was running for myfirst campaign for president. and i remember hearingthe reports of thousands of innocent people being killedor driven from their homes. and from a distance, it seemedlike the kenya that i knew -- a kenya that was ableto reach beyond ethnic and tribal lines -- thatit might split apart across those lines oftribe and ethnicity. but look what happened. the people of kenya chose notto be defined by the hatreds
of the past -- youchose a better history. the voices ofordinary people, and political leaders and civilsociety did not eliminate all these divisions, but youaddressed the divisions and differences peacefully. and a new constitutionwas put in place, declaring that "every personhas inherent dignity -- and the right to have that dignityrespected and protected." a competitive election wentforward -- not without problems,
but without the violencethat so many had feared. in other words, kenyanschose to stay together. you chose thepath of harambee. and in part because ofthis political stability, kenya's economy is also emerging-- and the entrepreneurial spirit that people rely onto survive in the streets of kibera can now be seen in newbusinesses across the country. from the city squareto the smallest villages, mpesa is changing theway people use money.
new investment is making kenyaa hub for regional trade. when i came here as a u.s. senator, i pointed out thatsouth korea's economy was the same as kenya's when iwas born, and then was 40 times largerthan kenya's. think about that. it started at the same place-- south korea had gone here, and kenya was here. but today, that gap hasbeen cut in half just
in the last decade. which meanskenya is making progress. and meanwhile, kenya continuesto carve out a distinct place in the community of nations:as a source of peacekeepers for places torn apart byconflict, a host for refugees driven from their homes. a leader for conservation,following the footprints of wangari maathai. kenya is one of theplaces on this continent
that truly observesfreedom of the press, and their fearlessjournalists and courageous civil society members. and in the united states, wesee the legacy of kip keino every time a kenyan winsone of our marathons. and maybe the firstlady of kenya is going to win one soon. i told the presidenthe has to start running with his wife.
we want him to stay fit. so there's muchto be proud of -- much progressto lift up. it's a good-news story. but we also know theprogress is not complete. there are still problems thatshadow ordinary kenyans every day -- challenges that candeny you your livelihood, and sometimes deny you lives. as in america -- and so manycountries around the globe --
economic growth has notalways been broadly shared. sometimes people atthe top do very well, but ordinary peoplestill struggle. today, a young child in nyanzaprovince is four times more likely to die than a childin central province -- even though they are equal indignity and the eyes of god. that's a gap thathas to be closed. a girl in riftvalley is far less likely to attend secondary schoolthan a girl in nairobi.
across the country,one study shows corruption costs kenyans 250,000 jobs everyyear -- because every shilling that's paid as a bribe couldbe put into the pocket of somebody who's actuallydoing an honest day's work. and despite the hard-earnedpolitical progress that i spoke of, thosepolitical gains still have to be protected. new laws and restrictionscould close off the space where civil society givesindividual citizens
a voice and holdsleaders accountable. old tribal divisions andethnic divisions can still be stirred up. i want to be very clear here --a politics that's based solely on tribe and ethnicity isa politics that's doomed to tear a country apart. it is a failure-- a failure of imagination. of course, here, in kenya,we also know the specter of terrorism has touchedfar too many lives.
and we remember the americansand kenyans who died side by side in the attack onour embassy in the '90s. we remember the innocentkenyans who were taken from us at westgate mall. we weep for the nearly 150people slaughtered at garissa -- including so many studentswho had such a bright future before them. we honor the memory of somany other innocent kenyans whose lives have beenlost in this struggle.
so kenya is at a crossroads-- a moment filled with peril, but also enormous promise. and with the rest ofmy time here today, i'd like to talk about howyou can seize the moment, how you can make sure we leavebehind a world that's better -- a world that we borrowedfrom our children. when i first came to sub-saharanafrica as president, i made clear my strong beliefthat the future of africa is up to africans.
for too long, i think thatmany looked to the outside for salvation and focusedon somebody else being at fault for the problemsof the continent. and as my sister said,ultimately we are each responsible forour own destiny. and i'm here as president ofa country that sees kenya as an important partner. i'm here as a friendwho wants kenya to succeed. and the pillars of that successare clear: strong democratic
governance; development thatprovides opportunity for all people and not just some; asense of national identity that rejects conflict for a futureof peace and reconciliation. and today, we can see thatfuture for kenya on the horizon. but tough choices aregoing to have to be made in order to arriveat that destination. in the united states, i alwayssay that what makes america exceptional is not thefact that we're perfect, it's the fact that westruggle to improve.
we're self-critical. we work to live up to ourhighest values and ideals, knowing that we're notalways going to achieve them perfectly, but we keep ontrying to perfect our union. and what's true for americais also true for kenya. you can't be complacent andaccept the world just as it is. you have to imagine what theworld might be and then push and work toward that future. progress requires that youhonestly confront the dark
corners of our own past; extendrights and opportunities to more of your citizens; see thedifferences and diversity of this country as a strength, justas we in america try to see the diversity of our country as astrength and not a weakness. so you can choosethe path to progress, but it requires makingsome important choices. first and foremost, it meanscontinuing down the path of a strong, moreinclusive, more accountable and transparent democracy.
democracy begins with apeacefully-elected government. it begins with elections. but it doesn't stopwith elections. so your constitution offersa road map to governance that's more responsive to thepeople -- through protections against unchecked power,more power in the hands of local communities. for this system tosucceed, there also has to be space for citizensto exercise their rights.
and we saw the strength ofkenya's civil society in the last election, whengroups collected reports of incitement so that violencecould be stopped before it spun out of control. and the ability of citizens toorganize and advocate for change -- that's the oxygenupon which democracy depends. democracy is sometimesmessy, and for leaders, sometimes it's frustrating. democracy means that somebodyis always complaining
about something. nobody is ever happyin a democracy about their government. if you make one person happy,somebody else is unhappy. then sometimes somebody whoyou made happy, later on, now they're not happy. they say, what have youdone for me lately? but that's thenature of democracy. that's why it works, isbecause it's constantly
challenging leaders to uptheir game and to do better. and such civic participationand freedom is also essential for rooting out thecancer of corruption. now, i want to be clear. corruption is notunique to kenya. i mean, i want everybodyto understand that there's no country that'scompletely free of corruption. certainly here in the africancontinent there are many countries that dealwith this problem.
and i want to assure you ispeak about it wherever i go, not just here in kenya. so i don't want everybodyto get too sensitive. but the fact is, toooften, here in kenya -- as is true in otherplaces -- corruption is tolerated because that's howthings have always been done. people just think thatthat is sort of the normal state of affairs. and there was a time inthe united states where
that was true, too. my hometown of chicago wasinfamous for al capone and the mob and organized crimecorrupting law enforcement. but what happened wasthat over time people got fed up, and leadersstood up and they said, we're not going toplay that game anymore. and you changed a cultureand you changed habits. here in kenya, it'stime to change habits, and decisivelybreak that cycle.
because corruptionholds back every aspect of economic and civil life. it's an anchor that weighsyou down and prevents you from achievingwhat you could. if you need to pay a bribe andhire somebody's brother -- who's not very good anddoesn't come to work -- in order to start abusiness, well, that's going to create lessjobs for everybody. if electricity is going to oneneighborhood because they're
well-connected, and notanother neighborhood, that's going to limitdevelopment of the country as a whole. if someone inpublic office is taking a cut that they don'tdeserve, that's taking away from those who arepaying their fair share. so this is not just aboutchanging one law -- although it's important to havelaws on the books that are actually being enforced.
it's important that not onlylow-level corruption is punished, but folks at thetop, if they are taking from the people, that hasto be addressed as well. but it's not somethingthat is just fixed by laws, or that anyone person can fix. it requires a commitmentby the entire nation -- leaders and citizens-- to change habits and to change culture. tough laws need tobe on the books.
and the good news is, yourgovernment is taking some important steps inthe right direction. people who break the lawand violate the public trust need to be prosecuted. ngos have to be allowed tooperate who shine a spotlight on what needs to change. and ordinary people haveto stand up and say, enough is enough. it's timefor a better future.
and as you take these steps,i promise that america will continue to be your partnerin supporting investments in strong, democraticinstitutions. now, we're also going towork with you to pursue the second pillar of progress,and that is development that extends economicopportunity and dignity for all of kenya's people. america partners with kenyain areas where you're making enormous progress, and we focuson what kenyans can do for
themselves and buildingcapacity; on entrepreneurship, where kenya is becomingan engine for innovation; on access to power, where kenyais developing clean energy that can reach more people; on theimportant issue of climate change, where kenya'srecent goal to reduce its emissions has put it in theposition of being a leader on the continent; on foodsecurity, where kenyan crops are producing more tomeet the demands of your people and a global market;and on health, where
kenya has struck huge blowsagainst hiv/aids and other diseases, while building upthe capacity to provide better care inyour communities. america is also partneringwith you on an issue that's fundamental to kenya's future:we are investing in youth. we are investingin the young people of kenya and the young peopleof this continent. robert f. kennedyonce said, "it is a revolutionaryworld that we live in,"
and "it is the youngpeople who must take the lead." it's the young peoplewho must take the lead. so through our young africanleaders initiative -- -- we are empowering andconnecting young people from across the continent who arefilled with energy and optimism and idealism, and are going totake africa to new heights. and theseyoung people, they're not weighteddown by the old ways. they're creating a new path.
and these are the elements forsuccess in this 21st century. to continue down thispath of progress, it will be vital for kenya torecognize that no country can achieve its full potentialunless it draws on the talents of all its people -- and thatmust include the half of kenyans -- maybe a little more thanhalf -- who are women and girls. now, i'm goingto spend a little time on this just for a second. every country and everyculture has traditions that
are unique and help makethat country what it is. but just because somethingis a part of your past doesn't make it right. it doesn't mean thatit defines your future. look at us in theunited states. recently, we've beenhaving a debate about the confederate flag. some of you may befamiliar with this. this was a symbol for thosestates who fought against the
union to preserve slavery. now, as a historicalartifact, it's important. but some have argued that it'sjust a symbol of heritage that should fly in public spaces. the fact is it was a flag thatflew over an army that fought to maintain a system of slaveryand racial subjugation. so we shouldunderstand our history, but we should also recognizethat it sends a bad message to those who were liberatedfrom slavery and oppression.
and in part because of anunspeakable tragedy that took place recently, where a youngman who was a fan of the confederate flag and racialsuperiority shot helpless people in a church, more andmore americans of all races are realizing now that thatflag should come down. just becausesomething is a tradition well, so around the world,there is a tradition of repressing women andtreating them differently, and not giving themthe same opportunities,
and husbandsbeating their wives, and children notbeing sent to school. those are traditions. treating women and girlsas second-class citizens, those are bad traditions. they need to change. they're holding you back. treating women as second-classcitizens is a bad tradition. it holds you back.
there's no excusefor sexual assault or domestic violence. there's no reason thatyoung girls should suffer genitalmutilation. there's no place incivilized society for the early or forcedmarriage of children. these traditions maydate back centuries; they have no placein the 21st century. these are issues ofright and wrong --
in any culture. but they're also issuesof success and failure. any nation that fails to educateits girls or employ its women and allowing them tomaximize their potential is doomed to fall behindin a global economy. you know, we're ina sports center. imagine if you have a teamand you don't let half of the team play. that's stupid.
that makes no sense. and the evidence shows thatcommunities that give their daughters the sameopportunities as their sons, they are more peaceful,they are more prosperous, they develop faster, theyare more likely to succeed. that's true in america. that's true here in kenya. it doesn't matter. and that's why one of themost successful development
policies you can pursue isgiving girls and education, and removing the obstaclesthat stand between them and their dreams. and by the way, if youeducate girls -- they grow up to be moms -- and they,because they're educated, are more likely to produceeducated children. so kenya will notsucceed if it treats women and girls assecond-class citizens. i want to be veryclear about that.
now, this leads me to thethird pillar of progress, and that's choosing a futureof peace and reconciliation. there are realthreats out there. president kenyatta and i spenta lot of time discussing the serious threat fromal-shabaab that kenya faces. the united states facessimilar threats of terrorism. we are grateful for thesacrifices made by kenyans on the front linesas part of amisom. we're proud of theefforts that we're making
to strengthen kenya'scapabilities through our new securitygovernance initiative. we're going to standshoulder-to-shoulder with you in this fight againstterrorism for as long as it takes. but, as i mentionedyesterday, it is important to remember thatviolent extremists want us to turnagainst one another. that's what terroriststypically try to exploit.
they know that theyare a small minority; they know that theycan't win conventionally. so what they try to do istarget societies where they can exploit divisions. that's whathappens in iraq. that's what happensaround the world. that's what happenedin northern ireland. terrorists who try to sow chaos,they must be met with force and they must also be met,though, with a forceful
commitment to uphold therule of law, and respect for human rights, and totreat everybody who's peaceful and law-abidingfairly and equally. extremists who prey ondistrust must be defeated by communities who standtogether and stand for something different. and the most importantexample here is, is that the united statesand kenya both have muslim minorities, butthose minorities make
enormous contributionsto our countries. these are our brothers,they are our sisters. and so in bothour countries, we have to reject calls thatallow us to be divided. this is true forany diverse society. and kenya is rich with diversity-- with many dozens of tribes and ethnicities, and languagesand religious groups. and time and again, justas we've seen the dangers of religious or ethnicviolence, we've seen that kenya
is stronger when kenyansstand united -- with a sense of national identity. that was the case ondecember 12, 1963, when cities and villages acrossthis country celebrated the birth of a nation. it was true in 2010, when kenyareplaced the anarchy of ethnic violence with the orderof a new constitution. so we can all appreciateour own identities, our bloodlines, ourbeliefs, our backgrounds --
that tapestry is whatmakes us who we are. but the history of africa-- which is both the cradle of human progress and a crucibleof conflict -- shows us that when define ourselves narrowly,in opposition to somebody just because they're of adifferent tribe, or race, or religion -- and we ignorewho is a good person or a bad person, are they working hardor not, are they honest or not, are they peaceful or violent-- when we start making distinctions solely based onstatus and not what people
do, then we're taking thewrong path and we inevitably suffer in the end. this is why martinluther king called on people to be judged not by the colorof their skin but the content of their character. and in the same way, peopleshould not be judged by their last name, ortheir religious faith, but by their content of theircharacter and how they behave. are they good citizens?
are they good people? in the united states, we embracethe motto: e pluribus unum. in latin, that means,out of many, one. in kenya, harambee --we are in this together. whatever the challenge, youwill be stronger if you face it not as christians ormuslims, masai, kikuyu, luo, any other tribe-- but as kenyans. and ultimately, that unity isthe source of strength that will empower you to seizethis moment of promise.
that's what will helpyou root out corruption. that's what will strengthendemocratic institutions. that's what will helpyou combat inequality. that's what will help you extendopportunity, and educate youth, and face down threats, andembrace reconciliation. so i want to sayparticularly to the young people here today,kenya is on the move. africa is on the move. you are poised to play abigger role in this world --
-- as the shadows of the pastare replaced by the light that you offer an increasinglyinterconnected world. and in the lightof this new day, we have to learn to seeourselves in one another. we have to see thatwe are connected, our fates arebound together. because, in the end, we'reall part of one tribe -- the human tribe. and no matter who we are,or where we come from,
or what we look like,or who we love, or what god we worship,we're connected. our fates are boundup with one another. kenya holds within itall that diversity. and with diversity,sometimes comes difficulty. but i look to kenya'sfuture filled with hope. and i'm hopeful because ofyou, the people of kenya, especially the young people. there are some amazing examplesof what's going on right now
with young people. i'm hopeful because of a youngman named richard ruto todosia. richard helped build yes youthcan -- i like the phrase, yes youth can -- it became one ofthe most prominent civil societyorganizations in kenya, with over onemillion members. and after the violenceof 2007, 2008, yes youth can stoodup to incitement,
helped bring opportunityto young people in places that werescarred by conflict. that's the kind of youngleadership that we need. i'm hopeful becauseof a young woman named josephine kulea. so josephine foundedsamburu girls foundation. and she's already helpedto rescue over 1,000 girls from abuseand forced marriage, and helped placethem in schools.
a member of thesamburu tribe herself, she's personally plannedrescue missions to help girls as young as 6 years old. and she explains that, "thelonger a girl is in school, everything for her -- forher income, for her family, for this country --everything changes." she gives me hope. i'm hopeful because of a youngwoman named jamila abass. so jamila founded mfarm, whichis a mobile platform that is
already used by over 14,000people across kenya. mfarm makes it easy for farmersto get information that lets them match their crops withwhat the market demands. and studies show that it canhelp farmers double their sales. so here's what jamilasaid: " love kenya because you feel you are homeanywhere you go." home anywhere you go --that's the kenya that welcomed me nearly 30years ago as a young man. you helped makeme feel at home.
and standing here today aspresident of the united states, when i think about thoseyoung people and all the young people in attendancehere, you still make me feel at home. and i'm confident thatyour future is going to be written across this country andacross this continent by young people like you -- young menand women who don't have to struggle under a colonialpower; who don't have to look overseas torealize your dreams.
yes, you can realize yourdreams right here, right now. "we have not inheritedthis land from our forebears, we have borrowedit from our children." so now is the time for us todo the hard work of living up to that inheritance;of building a kenya where the inherent dignity ofevery person is respected and protected, andthere's no limit to what a child can achieve. i am here to tell you thatthe united states of america
will be a partner for youevery step of the way. god bless you. thank you. asante sana.