Yes, we can, Obama tells Africans

2009-07-11 22:08

Accra - US President Barack Obama said on Saturday as he wrapped up his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa since taking office that the trip had been "particularly meaningful for me".

"As somebody whose father comes from Africa I am pleased this visit has been particularly meaningful for me," he said moments before he boarded his plane to depart for Washington.

"America wants to partner with people and nations of Africa but we all know the future of Africa is in the hands of Africa."

Obama earlier said after visiting a former slave fortress on the coast of Ghana with his family that he hopes it shows his daughters that history can take very cruel turns.

Eleven-year-old Malia and eight-year-old Sasha accompanied Obama on a tour of Cape Coast Castle on Saturday.

Speaking afterward, Obama said his daughters are "growing up in such a blessed way".

He said one of the things he hopes they picked up from the tour is a sense of their obligation to fight oppression and cruelty everywhere.

Cape Coast Castle was the place where shackled Africans were held in squalid dungeons before they were shipped off into slavery.
Good governance

 The US president said in a speech on Saturday in Ghana's Parliament that Western aid must be matched by good governance in Africa and urged Africans to take greater responsibility for stamping out war, corruption and disease.

Fresh from a G8 summit where leaders agreed to spend $20bn on food security in poor countries, Obama spoke of a "new moment of promise" but stressed that Africans must also take a leading role in sorting out their problems.

"Development depends upon good governance," Obama said in a speech to Ghana's parliament. "That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long. That is the change that can unlock Africa's potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans."

In an address that offered the most detailed view of his Africa policy, Obama took aim at corruption and rights abuses on the continent, warning that growth and development would be held back until such problems were tackled.

He said America would not impose any system of government, but would increase help for those behaving responsibly.

Encouraging corruption-fighters

The visit has enormous resonance for Africa because of Obama's roots as the son of Kenyan immigrant.
He laced his speech with tales of his background and the struggles of his forebears in the face of poverty and colonial rule.

"It will give encouragement to those fighting corruption and for democracy," said African affairs commentator Joel Kibazo.

"He said it in a way that perhaps other presidents could not because he started by outlining his own connections," said Kibazo, while noting Obama was less specific on promoting good governance than with a $63bn health spending pledge.

'Yes, we can'

MPs chanted "yes, we can" before Obama started and the president ended his address with that phrase - his old campaign slogan. The crowd's response was much warmer than the cordial but mostly chilly reception in Moscow earlier in the week.

The language and cadence of Obama's speech was a mix of church sermon, campaign rally and university lecture.

"We like the positive signals that this visit is sending and will continue to send," said Ghanaian President John Atta Mills.

"This encourages us also to sustain the gains that we have made in our democratic process."

Reforms in the cocoa and gold producing country, set to begin pumping oil next year, helped bring unprecedented investment and growth before the impact of the global financial crisis.

Ghanaians, many dressed in Obama t-shirts, packed into the streets of Accra in hope of glimpsing the president. They clustered around television sets in homes, bars and backyards to follow his words.

"The message he gave was covering the ways in which we should change our lifestyles. I believe when we do that we will prosper," said engineer Joseph Aboagye. "We need to change." - Reuters, AP

Read more on:    john atta mills  |  accra  |  barack obama in ghana

Read News24’s Comments Policy


Inside News24


ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Canon EOS 600D

The Canon EOS 600D Digital Camera puts the widely respected...

From R5389.95

I'm shopping for:


There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.