President Barack Obama, whose father was Kenyan, is hosting a 50th anniversary commemoration of African nations’ independence in early August. In 2010 17 African countries are turning 50: 14 former French colonies—Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Republic of the Congo, Senegal, and Togo; two former British colonies—Nigeria and Somalia; and one former Belgian colony, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). Although many African nations’ have faced major civil and political struggles in the half century since independence, their people recognize that this anniversary provides a time to reflect on the past, the present, and the future. The White House Forum with Young African Leaders will explore this important historic moment.
Barack Obama is the first American president to have a deep personal connection to the issue of African independence. According to Obama’s own account, his father returned to his post-independence homeland of Kenya to work after studying in the United States. But he grew disappointed with how little impact freedom from colonial rule was having.
As president, Obama has emphasized that development must be based on evidence and data to determine which methods yield positive results. In recognition of the region’s very young demographic profile, and in hopes of forging strong, forward-looking partnerships in the future, he has invited approximately 120 young African leaders to meet in Washington, D.C. The participants, from the private sector and civil society, represent more than 40 countries. They will focus on youth empowerment, good governance, and economic opportunity to arrive at ways to transform their societies over the next fifty years.
- Statement on the President’s Forum with Young African Leaders
This is the Obama administration’s official announcement of the August 2010 President’s Forum with Young African Leaders.
(Source: Whitehouse.gov; July 21, 2010)
- 50th Anniversary Of Independence Under Way in Number of African Countries
This article explores contrasts in how African countries approach the celebration of their independence.
(Source: VOA News, July 15, 2010)
- AFRICA 27 April–28 November 2010 Seventeen African Countries Won Independence in Same Year 50 Years Ago
This article sketches comparisons among the 17 African countries that turn 50 in 2010.
(Source: News Ahead, April 27, 2010)
- Obama to Host Africa Independence Celebration
This article provides a brief summary of the upcoming White House Forum with Young African Leaders.
(Source: Reuters, June 25, 2010)