tv President Obama Delivers Remarks to the Young African Leaders Initiative CSPAN August 4, 2016 5:29am-7:01am EDT
initiative hosted president obama for a townhall meeting yesterday. ext on c-span. >> the national urban league will meet in baltimore this morning. democratic vice presidenttial nominee tim kaine will be among the speakers live at 8:30 eastern. later attorney general loretta lynch and education secretary john king will be part of an event hosted by the national association of black journalists and hispanic journalists. >> this weekend c-span's cities
tour will explore the history and literary life of port herein michigan. railroads the role played. >> the container movement from places like china and indonesia and elsewhere, railroads are very much a part of that route. and so when you go to long beach, california, where there's large shipping facilities, the railroads are right there alongside the container ships and they're the ones that help get it to the ext route. in 1990s, were just a thriving economy not just statewide but also, we had done pretty well. things collapsed about the year
2000. if you go by household median household income michigan is one of the 15th wealthiest states. by 2008, eight years later, we're one of the 15 poorest states. >> we'll visit where thomas edison worked and make a stop. we'll also speak with the museum's manager. >> we have a recreation of his little chemical laboratory and printing equipment where he was the first person that we know of to print a newspaper on a u moving train. he had access to the latest news through the telegraph agents at the train offices and would get that news right hot off the presses. >> we'll then tour the lighthouse the first in the state of michigan. this weekend watch c-span's cities tour saturday at noon eastern on book tv and sunday afternoon on american history
>> let me first of all say i'm a little disappointed with the lack of enthusiasm. everybody has shown so shy and quiet. i want to thank the great introduction and the outstanding work on behalf of the people of uganda. cheers and applause] >> i don't know whether they chose him because he is such a great speaker, which he is, or because they thought he and i were cousins.
because there must be -- there must be some connection. now, i know that you've been in this fellowship for a few weeks. i know that for many of you this is your first visit to the united states. so let me start by saying on behalf of the american people, welcome to the united states. [cheers and applause] i don't want to give a long speech because i'm really here to hear from you and to answer your questions and to get your comments and ideas. but i do want to just take a and say step back why your being here is so important not only to me but to your countries and people all over the world. i stand here as president of the united states and a son of an african. michelle and i have always tried to instill in our daughters their heritage,
american, african, european, with all the strengths and struggles of that heritage. we took them to africa. we wanted to open their eyes to the amazing taps stri of history and culture and music. we looked out from those doors of no return. we stood in the cell where mandola refused to break. as president i have now visited subis a sharon africa four times which is more than any ther u.s. president. evened though africa continues to face challenges, i see a continent on the move. you have one of the world's fastest growing regions, home to a middle class that is projected to grow to over 1 billion consumers. you are more connected by
technology and smart phones than ever before. as i can see here today. africa is sending more of its children to school. you're saving more lives from hiv aids and infant mortality, and while there's still more work to do to address these challenges today's africa is a place of unprecedented prosperity and opportunity. so over the past 7-1/2 years i've worked to transform america's relationship with africa so that we are equal partners. as so many africans have told me you want praise not aids. trades that support -- trades not aids. we've been working to boost exports with africa. we're working to promote good governance and human rights that advance security to help feed families. earlier today i signed a new executive order so that we are
doing even more to support american companies that are interested in doing business in africa. and this fall we'll host the second u.s.-africa business forum to encourage more trade and investment. and we're going to keep working together in our power africa initiative to bring cleaner electricity to more than 60 million african homes and businesses. [applause] and we're doing this not just because i love the people of africa but also because the world will not be able to deal with climate change or rrorism or expanding women's rights, all the issues that we face globally, without a aising and dynamic and self-reliant africa. and that more importantly than anything else depends on a rising generation of new leaders. it depends on you.
that's why six years ago i launched the young african leaders initiative, because i've always believed that one person can be a force for positive change. that one person, as bobby kennedy famously said when he visited, that one person can be like a stone, a pebble thrown in a lake creating ripples -- ripples of hope, he called it. and that's especially true for all of you. you're young, you're talented, optimistic. you're already showing you can make a difference. so what we want to do is to connect you with each other and to resources and to networks that can help you become the leaders in business and government and civil society of tomorrow. and the response has been overwhelming. across africa more than 250,000 people have joined our network.
they get access to online courses. they have a network of peers and mentors across africa and across the globe. we have issued nearly 150,000 certificates from those courses. i might when i have a little more time teach one of those courses myself. cheers and applause] right now i'm kind of busy. we're training thousands of young people in leadership and entrepreneurship and networking at our four regional leadership centers. and today i'm proud to welcome all of you, the third class of mandela fellows. [applause] more than 40,000 people applied. you're our biggest class yet, double the size of the previous
year, 1,000 yali strong. and for the last weeks you have been learning and studying at some of america's best universities. today you're not just mandela fellows but you're also wkeyes and buckeyes, sun devils. we've got some fighting irish here. we've got our first class of nergy fellows. young people at u.c. davis studying new ways to promote clean energy and fight climate change. and not only have been you studying and learning but you've also immersed yourself at american culture. you looked at sites of our nation's founding, you visited the 9/11 memorial. you spent time in my hometown of chicago. so you got a taste of america,
which for some of you apparently included something called lobster ice cream which i never tasted myself but i must admit that sounds terrible. but that's ok. you were very brave. you've also gotten a front row seat on the fascinating roller coaster process of american democracy, because you're here during election season and i hope you've buckled your seat belts. but it actually has been a good lesson and a reminder that democracy is hard everywhere, even in the world's oldest continuous democracy. it's always challenging and it's always messy. but as you're watching our election, i want you to know that one of the thing that is leaders in washington agree on on both sides of the political
aisle, republicans and democrats, is the importance of a strong american partnership with the nation and people of africa. [applause] so we're going to keep standing with you. america is going to keep .tanding with activists a lawyer and human rights activist. a few years ago she thought people in tanzania should be able to use their mobile phones to read their constitution. she designed tanzania's first data base of constitutional resources opening up her government to more of her people so they could understand their law and their rights, and their responsibilities. so thank you very much for the great work.
we're going to keep standing with social entrepreneurs. where is alla? you're over here. so who was this guy who jumped p? he's what you call your hype man. e was hyping you up. so free training for women in ding and i.t. skills and started a e commerce platform to help women take their products to the market and to the world. because she knows that when our women succeed, our country
succeeds. o thank you for your work. we're going to keep standing the mamba is his own hype man. so two years ago he wanted to be a mandela fellow but he didn't understand english. so he buckled down and studied and is here today helping other young people. so thank you. good job. and finally we stand together in memory of jean-paul russman. john pawn was a bright young leader from nigeria who inspired people around the world in peace.
tragically he lost his life this summer in a hiking accident. i know you're showing solidarity with green ribbons. like you i have faith that jean-paul's legacy of building peace and fighting for children's rights will live on not just in nigeria but in all hose who inspire in your country and back home and here in the united states. because this is a two way street. for all the experiences that you're gaining here in the united states, we're learning from you. we're energized by your passion, we're learning from your perspectives, and that's why this year for the first time americans traveled to africa to visit mandela fellows in their home communities so that americans -- [applause] so that americans could learn about development and community building and more from africans. and even more americans will participate in this exchange
next year. it's also why i'm excited to announce new support from the millenium challenge corporation, the u.s. african development foundation and the city foundation to provide even more africans with grants and professional opportunities. give them a big round of applause for their support. [applause] so these partnerships don't just change the lives of young people like you. they're also energizing our countries and shaping our world. we created programs like this not just in africa but in southeast asia, in the americas, in europe. so you're part of a huge and growing network of the next generation of leaders around the world. and while i'm going to leave it up to historians to decide my overall legacies, one of the things i'm really proud of is my partnership with young people like you because all of you inspire me. so years from now when you're
running a big business or doing a great nonprofit or leading your country as the president or prime minister or minister of finance or something, my hope is that you can look back and you will keep drawing from the strength and the experience that you've gotten here. i hope that you will remember those of us who believed in your potential. and i hope as a consequence you then give back to the people that are connelling up behind you, -- coming up behind you, because that's how we keep making progress across the oceans and generations. you will always have a partner and friend in the united states of america. i could not be prouder of all of you and the great work that you've done. i want to once again thank our outstanding institutions, our universities that have been hosting you. we're very, very proud of their great work. [applause]
and so with that, now what i want to do is open it up for questions. i know that some people are watching on the yali network on line. so hello, everybody. over the past week they've been sending in questions over facebook so we'll start with one of those. we have an alum here to read ur first question. there you are. you're going to read our first question. >> you just said that people might wonder if you two were cousins. you are one of us. >> although i have to say that at this point i'm probably an uncle. i wish i could say i was a brother or cousin but now i've got some gray hair. so go ahead. >> thank you very much.
i'm a 2015 alum. i was at the university. as you know, the network is a huge pool of about 250,000 people. so we couldn't all be here, unfortunately. i think we might not fit in the room. from rst question comes zambia who wanted to know what has been the most challenging issue you've had to handle since you became president of the united states. and what would be your life message as the president to the young people across the globe? >> i've had my share of tough issues. the issue that had the greatest magnitude was the issue i faced when i first came into office. and that was that the world economy was in the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis that was then spilling over
nto the broader economy. the owth and trade and entire financial system was contracting at a pace that we hadn't seen since the 1930s since the great depression. so the series of actions that we had to take very quickly, to strengthen our banks, to coordinate internationally to unlock the financial system, to make sure that people did not engage in protectionist behavior, to resuscitate our auto industry, to put people back to work and make sure that we didn't get further downward spiral, to stabilize the housing market here. that was important not just for the united states but that was important internationally because we're such a big engine for economic growth. we're still suffering from some of the scars from that great
recession that we had in 2007-2008. but overall, we averted the worst of the crisis and we were able to stabilize the situation so that the world could start growing again. and that means jobs and opportunity and prosperity for a lot of people. probably the most frustrating challenge that i've had on an ongoing basis typically involves conflicts outside of the united states. syria is the toughest example. but the complex that we don't see in south sudan, for example, where after years of fighting and millions of people dead, finally there was the opportunity to create an independent country of south sudan and now within south sudan there's still conflict between the two countries or
between two factions. those are very challenging because the united states on lease -- d cannot poliss and govern every spot in the world and yet people look to us as a positive influence. our goal has been consistently to bring people together so that they can sit down and resolve issues politically rather than through violence. t is a source of ongoing daily frustration for me that we have not been able to stop some of these conflicts. one of the thing that is we've seen in the world today is a shift that used to be that you had these big wars between great powers. now so often the greatest suffering arises out of either
eets nick conflict or sectarian onflict or states that are unstable and the consequences for ordinary people in those countries are enormous. and in some ways it's harder to stop those kinds of conflicts than it is simply to defeat an army that is clearly identified. and the challenge of terrorist networks, which has been an ongoing project of ours and many of our partners around the world, is tied up with this issue, because when you have regional conflict and young people are displaced and they are without education and they are without prosspects and they are without hope, then the possibilities of them being cruited into an organization
like isil or al qaeda or bokeo hah ram, even if it's just a tiny small percentage is obviously going to be higher than if people are given opportunity and there's stability in their lives. so the one thing that i know is that the way we're going to solve these problems is not in isolation but by having people of good will from across regions, across continents working together. and that begins with many of the young people like you around the world who are trying to do the right thing. all right. next. oh, by the way, i always go boy girl boy girl here to make sure things are equal. that was a young man who asked that question. right? so it's a ladies' turn. go ahead. right there.
there you've got a microphone. .> thank you for the chance i'm from sudan. i'm cofounder of something alled the democrat organization. your government play as big role in influencing sudan, which parts, so i really want to understand how the united states stands because we have sanctions and sometimes i feel they're not enough. so i want to see in international relations what is the situation of the united states and how can they help young people like us to be heard and to be in roundtables to help development and democracy in the country.
>> excellent. is an example of some of what i was talking about earlier. there's a history in darfur and other parts of the country of enormous conflict internal to sudan. our goal when we -- oh, oh. sorry, guys. i'm tearing up the stage here. our goal when we put together a package of sanctions is not to punish the people of that country, but is rather to make sure that we can exert some verage so that the country's more responsive to the needs of the people, that they are more prepared to open up government concerns and people
are trying to organize around human rights and democracy and so forth. he pressure that we apply is not always enough to actually entirely change the practices inside those countries and sometimes let's face it there are countries that are very resentful and suggest why don't you mind your own business. their attitude is who is america to tell us what to do when you yourselves have your own problems inside your own country. and my response is that america has to have some humility in recognizing that we have our own issues. that ultimately, whether it's people in cuba or people in in other parts of the world challenges around
human rights ultimately it's up to people in their countries to determine their fate. but i do believe that there's certain principles that apply everywhere. i believe that governments should follow the law and not be arbitrary. i believe that every individual has certain rights to speak freely and to practice their own faith freely and to assemble peacefully to petition their government. i believe that women should be treated equally and if you come from a country in which it is traditional to beat women or not give them an education or engage in genital middle-aged, u should change your traditions because those are bad practices. [applause]
i do think it is important for us to stand up for those principles, recognizing that we are not perfect, that we need to listen to criticism just like other countries do, and also as weize that even sanction a country we need to engage with them so there becomes an opportunity for dialogue. hopefully we can have some positive influence. there will be times where, and i have said this before, where the united states is standing up for human rights, but the country we are dealing with is also a partner on national security issues. forave to balance the needs andsecurity interests having diplomatic relations with
that country while still applying some pressure. i think sometimes people view this as hypocritical. why aren't you always putting pressure on every country? you should have no dealings with them at all. i will tell you that that is a luxury for people who are outside of government to be able to say that. when you are inside of ,overnment, you have to balance ok, i am going to engage with this government. we will meet with them, and we will be honest about our differences even as we work on some of the things we agree on. hopefully, over time, this makes a difference. it makes some impact. our hope is that sudan, over time, is more responsive to the basic principles that we discussed. that by engaging with them, sometimes around regional conflicts where we have common
interests or anti-terrorism efforts that the opportunities for dialogue improve the prospects for human rights. ultimately it will depend upon the courage and conviction of people like you, people inside sudan, or inside of any of your countries to be able to bring about change in a peaceful fashion. we are very proud of you. keep up the good work. [applause] all right. guy's turn. young man in the corner right there. go ahead. no no. this one right here. you. right there. go ahead. >> thank you very much mr. president. all of us, if we can just stand
up and thank again president obama. pres. obama: you don't need to do that. that is fine. thank you. from congo. first of all, i would like to thank you because you have given us the opportunity to know something about america, not just that america is not perfect . our countries are not perfect. destroyused media to our africa and our country. today all they know about africa is poverty, it is hunger, it is now nutrition. , congo does a lot too much. naturaltry has many resources. it is a victim of this wealth, this richness because powerful
countries have destroyed our people, bring war in our country , and people are being poor and for everyday, and countries which are making weapons keep on improving, keep on developing. this is not good. i'm going to ask a favor from you. the first one is that you are going to leave the white house, i think by november -- pres. obama: jane work, but that is ok. [laughter] january. if you can -- to our political leaders, as soon as you leave the white house, leaderseach out to our
because you are an african-american. the second favor is i will need a special picture with you. thank you very much. [laughter] all right.: this is as good a time as any to let you know that after i am done i will shake everybody's hand. [applause] pres. obama: weight. -- wait. wait, wait. when i say everybody come, i do not mean literally everybody. [laughter] because there are thousands of you, i cannot shake everyone's hand. [chanting] pres. obama: no. i have another job i have got to do. [laughter] but here is what i cannot do, i cannot take selfies because
then i will be here for the next four hours. so no, you cannot get your picture, i am sorry. let me address your broader question. the congo is a good example of a country with enormous natural resources and a terrible history of abuse during colonialism, of conflict, as you said, weapons that are not made in the congo that pour into the congo as part of other people's agendas. you have enormous opportunities but enormous challenges. a couple of things i would say. number one, even though it is important to know this history of what happened during colonial times in the congo and what
happened subsequently during efforts of independence, and the way other countries from the outside have meddled in ways that were not helpful to the people there, it is also important for every country at some point to say, it is now our responsibility. [applause] pres. obama: even if we have an unjust history. now, it is our responsibility. and we cannot use the past as an excuse for some of the problems that we have today. and that is true everywhere. you have to be mindful of your history, because if you were not mindful of your history, you would think wow, what is wrong with us? in fact, there are reasons why a country like the congo has had so many problems.
but they cannot be an excuse to sit back and say it is some the -- it isone else's someone else's problem or fault. that is a very important principle for every country on the continent. we know the history of africa. now the question is, what is the new history that we will write? [applause] what are the next chapters that we will write? in terms of media portrayals of africa, you are correct. the united states sometimes only sees africa in terms of stereotypes. either the wildlife channel where it is beautiful with safaris, or it is poverty and war. too often americans do not realize that there are a lot of people just going to work every day.
they do wear clothes. [laughter] raising families, getting an education, creating businesses. since you are a journalist, one of your goals should be to tell africa's story. [applause] the good news is, because of the power of the internet -- it used to be that in order to make a film, you had to have millions of dollars in cameras. now you take out your phone, or you have a small camcorder and you can produce content that is immediately reaching millions of people. so you can tell your own stories in a way that you could not before. i would encourage all of you, no matter whether you are in
business or politics or working for an ngo, think about how you are telling a story about africa. because the platform now exists for more and more people to understand the enormous potential and the good news that is taking place in africa, not just the bad news. [applause] pres. obama: it is a woman's turn, i do not want to neglect everybody here in the back. this young lady in the purple here. >> thank you, sir. i am from botswana. i want to ask a question about violence and responsibility. i have watched how you have led in your presidency, your family life in the public square and
how you managed to have balance between your public office and your home. i admire that about america, that your democracy is so open, you are investigated before you get into power and even when you are in power. how important is it for young people today to understand that it is important when in public office to run your family well , to take care of your wife or husband and take care of your children? also, important for us to hold each other accountable not to engage in greed or nepotism or corruption, and hold them accountable for what they are doing? [applause] pres. obama: i think that is a great question. well, let me separate out the two questions. one question is about holding leaders accountable in their public lives and how they do their jobs. and the other is a more personal question about maintaining
balance in your life. with respect to the personal question, what i would say is that maintaining balance, having a strong partnership with your wife or husband, raising children who are kind and useful and strong and generous and all the things that my wonderful daughters are -- [applause] pres. obama: that really is its own reward. the truth is, we have had some very great leaders who did not always have great personal lives. i am not actually somebody who believes that, if you go into public office, that your personal lives -- unless you are committing crimes or things like
that -- that that is the best measure. we also have people who are wonderful fathers and great husbands who were bad leaders. so the two things do not always align. for me, it has been useful for me to maintain that balance because it has grounded me, given me a sense of perspective. it has allowed me, during the course of my presidency when things are not going so well, to remember that i have this beautiful family and this wonderful wife. [applause] pres. obama: and, when things are going very well, it is good to go home and then my wife teases me about how i left my shoes in the middle of the
living room, or my girls, think what i am talking about over dinner is boring. that brings me down to earth. it has been good for me to maintain perspective in my work. but ultimately, i do that for a very selfish reasons, for my own rewards. the one thing i am almost positive about -- not only am i almost, i am positive. if i am lucky enough to live to a ripe old age, if i am on my deathbed, thinking back on my life, i will not be remembering some speech i gave, i will remember holding hands with one of my daughters and walking them to a park. that will be the thing that is most precious to me. [applause]
pres. obama: so that is on the private side. on the public side, what i would say is, although not perfect, the united states is actually pretty good about holding its leaders accountable. part of that has to do with freedom of the press. part of it has to do with our separation of powers, so that it is not one person in charge of everything. even the president of the united states is subject to a constitution. that constitution is interpreted by a supreme court. if i want to pass a budget, it has to go through congress. even if i get everything through the federal level, there is still state and cities that have their own perspective. you have a private sector, so power is dispersed not just in one big man, but across the
society. and i think that is very good. it is frustrating sometimes, i will not lie. there are times when the press -- right now i am at the end of my presidency, so the press is feeling sentimental and thinks, he has gotten old, look at him. we have beaten him up. [laughter] now let's focus on the new guy coming in. but there were times when i thought the press was very unfair, and i would open up of the newspapers and start arguing. but there have also been times when the press investigated something and i thought, this is a problem. the united states government, i have 2 million people in the federal government. we have a budget of over $1 trillion, the largest
organization on earth. so there will be times when government screws up. and the fact that the press is there to ask questions and expose problems does make me work harder. it focuses me on the fact that it is a problem. too often, into many countries around the world, the attitude of the people in charge is, i want to shut up the criticism instead of fixing the problem. that is not good for the people, and in the end, it is not good for the president, the prime minister, those in charge. because over time what happens is, you just hear what you want to hear. it is as if you had a doctor,
whatever the checkup, he just kept telling you you are fine. suddenly you start having a big growth in your neck -- do not worry about it, it is fine. and then you start limping, and he says you are healthy, you are great. and you never get well. i think the importance of accountability and transparency in government is the starting point for any society to improve. that also means that the press has responsibilities to make sure that it is accurate, to make sure it does not just chase whatever is the most sensational, but tries to be thoughtful and present as best it can a fair view of what is
happening. in the end, i would rather the press err on the side of freedom even if it is a little inaccurate, rather than have the person who is governing the country making decisions about who is wrong and who is right and you can say what and who can publish what. it is the path not only to dictatorship, but not fixing the real problems that exist. all right. [applause] pres. obama: ok. it is a gentleman's turn. i will call on this guy right here. so i need a translator. my sign language is not so good. we need a sign.
>> thank you so much. you are definitely a visionary, and with martin luther king i can relate to you, i can relate the both of you together. so in america, there are a lot of states and countries we are coming from that have diversity. there are visas that have to be filled out, a lottery system that has to be gone through. and so while everybody is coming to the u.s., there is a medical system, there are people who are seeking to get their phd's, their doctorates, a lot of
educational advances. there are a lot of educational advances people are having. while people are coming here, they are seeing that they are not able to -- sorry, we are translating multiple languages. >> for example, becoming a physician or engineer. the individuals from africa can achieve their dreams, come to the u.s. and have limitless options of educational tracts they can take and get good work, and not necessarily depend on the profession to do it for them. and the government can be an aid in that process to help them
excel in a profession. and also, the second part of my question. there are many objectives and goals. but right now, as you are coming to the end of your presidency, how do you feel as though you can personally continue the initiatives you put forth for africa, since you are coming so quickly to the end of your presidency? what are your plans to continue those objectives? [applause] pres. obama: i am sorry. >> i have a supplementary third part, i am sorry. pres. obama: we do not want to long a question. can i answer? no? first of all, i thought that was
very cool that you had a three-way translation. [laughter] pres. obama: you had sign language signed back and translated into english, there was a whole bunch of really smart people communicating. [applause] pres. obama: if i understood the first part of your question, one of the great achievements of the united states is our university system. it really is unparalleled anywhere in the world. it is not just one or two great universities. we have hundreds of great universities. [applause] pres. obama: we have an entire community college system that allows people to get practical training as well. even if they do not get a four-year degree. that is a huge advantage because those countries that are
investing in human capital, training people, are going to do better. that is the most valuable resource. there are countries with natural resources, but if people are not valued as the most important resource, those countries will not succeed. yesterday, i had a dinner with the prime minister of singapore. singapore is a tiny little island. just a little dot on a map. but it has one of the most wealthy, well advanced populations in the world. not because they have oil or because they have precious gems, but because their people have been educated, and they can thrive in this new knowledge-based society. it is a huge advantage for us.
i think in each of your countries it is really important for your current leadership, and many of you will be future leaders, to make sure that first and foremost that educational infrastructure is in place. [applause] pres. obama: and it has to be provided for everybody, not just boys, but girls. and it has to start early, because you cannot leave half of your population behind and expect that you will succeed. and by the way, let's face it, mothers, even in enlightened marriages like mine, are probably doing more, in terms of teaching children, than the fathers are. so if you are not teaching the mother, that means the child is also not getting taught.
so you have to create an infrastructure where people are learning. i think one of the points you are making also though is that we have some countries where people are getting degrees, but because of the rules and regulations and the policies, are not allowing for enough entrepreneurship or enough private sector growth, then you have people who are educated but frustrated because they cannot find good work. it is not enough just to educate a population. you then also have to have rules in place where if you want to start a business, you do not have to pay a bribe. [applause] pres. obama: or you do not have to hire somebody's cousin who will not show up on the job, but
expects to get paid. or if you want to get electricity installed, you have to wait five months to get a line into your office. so all of the rules, regulations, the laws, the structures that are in place encourage development and growth. that has to be combined with the education in order for those young people who now have talent to be able to move forward. too often, what i have seen in african countries, and i have seen it in a lot of places, there is a perspective of, you get an education, then you get a slot in a government office somewhere. if you do not get one of those
slots, that is it. there is no opportunity. i am a strong believer that government, strong, effective, transparent government, is a pre-condition for a market-based economy. you cannot have one without the other. but what is also true is, if every job is a government job, then there will come a point where you will not be able to accommodate all the talents of your people. so you have to be able to create a private sector, a marketplace, where people who have a new idea or a new product or service, they can go out there and create something. if you do not have that, then you will frustrate the vision
and ambitions of too many young people in your country. i think america in the past has done this well. our big problem here in this country is sometimes we forget how we became so wealthy in the first place. you start hearing arguments of, we do not want to pay taxes to fund universities, or we do not want to pay taxes to maintain our roads properly because why should i have to invest in society, i made it on my own? and we forget that the reason you have an opportunity to work at google or general motors or ibm had to do with a lot of investments made in science, research, roads, courts, and all the infrastructure that helps
preserve the ability of people who want to operate effectively in a marketplace to be able to make it. i always tell people who are anti-government, try going to a country where the government does not work. [laughter] pres. obama: and you will see, you actually want a good government. it is a useful thing to have. but it is not enough on its own if you also do not have the ability of people in the private sector to succeed. [applause] pres. obama: it is a woman's turn. let's see. guys, you can sitt down, it is not your turn. this young lady right here. no, not you. i said that this young lady right here. [laughter] [shouting]
pres. obama: what is your name? >> thank you, mr. president for giving us this opportunity. you spoke about leaving people behind. i want to use that same phrase to mention here that we have left a lot of young and dynamic people behind to come here to the united states. what has been the barrier? i want to pay tribute to everyone from african countries, but i want to pay a special tribute to those from mali, senegal, and others. the challenge is twofold. not only do we have to qualify as good leaders, we have to
qualify as good english speakers. we have people back home who cannot speak this language. mr. president, you are at the end of your term. i would like you to partner with all of these countries to help us build english language centers for young people to be more efficient and seize this opportunity. thank you very much. [applause] pres. obama: i think you make an excellent point. obviously, we have people here from francophile countries or portuguese-speaking countries. but we also want to make sure everyone can participate. for a range of historical
reasons, english has become, in some ways, a lingua franca. frankly, i wish that we as americans did a better job of learning other languages. one of the things about being a big country, we have always felt like we did not need it. but now, in an interconnected world, the more languages we speak, the better. it is excellent practical advice, and we will work with our team to think about how we can incorporate english-learning into our program. [applause] pres. obama: so thank you very much for that news i can use. the gentleman over here, in the cool hat.
well, you both have cool hats, but i was calling on him. [laughter] >> thank you so much, mr. president. i want to start by saying thank you for the opportunity, i think you have done a great job as a president and inspired all of us. [applause] >> i want to say, where i come, i am nigerian, there are bottlenecks and barriers to the youth participating in public policies of change that we desire to implement. what is your advice in the white house? what advice you have for young africans who aspire to run for office, and what do you think they can do to make a difference?
secondly, a big shout out to my wife. i promised if i got a chance, i would say hi. [applause] pres. obama: you see, he is keeping balance. [laughter] pres. obama: making sure he can go back home and say, honey, i was looking after you. people here in the states, we have the white house interns program, and i often talk to the young people after they complete their internship at the white house. they ask me a similar question, what advice i give to people who are interested in public service in politics? each country is different, some countries are more challenging because democratic policies are
still not deeply entrenched, oftentimes, there is not as much turnover in government because people, once they get in, they do not want to leave. in part, that has to do with a lack of opportunity in the private sector. one of the reasons why you want to have a country with a good, strong government, but also a private sector, is that if you do not have a good, strong, private sector, then the temptation for people to stay in power in government because that is the only way to make a living, or to succeed, that becomes a strong temptation. that then leads to the temptation for corruption or to suppress opposition or not have honest elections because you are hanging on because if you lose, you have nothing.
right? [applause] pres. obama: one of the good things about the united states is, you run for office, if you lose, there are other ways of making a living. it is not a tragedy. and it is interesting. i mean, there are times when during my political career, i thought, this is not going all that well. and i remember when i ran for the united states senate, i had already lost a race to be in congress. i had been in the state senate for eight years. it was putting enormous strains on my family because i was traveling a lot, and i thought to myself, this is it. if i do not win this u.s. senate race, i will get out of politics and do something else. and i was comfortable with that view. it also meant that once i became president, and people have
talked about, for example, my first time when i was trying to get the health care law passed, and the politics of it were not going well. people were very angry and often times misinformed about what it would do. i decided, even if this means i do not get a second term, i'm going to do it anyway. part of the reason is because if i lose, i will be upset, it will be a little embarrassing, but i will be ok. and there is no point in me being in office if i cannot actually do something with the office. [applause] pres. obama: that leads me to the main advice i would have a for those of you who are interested in politics or government. i always say to young people, worry less about what you want to be and worry more about what
you want to do. [applause] pres. obama: those are two different things. i think one of the problems we get here in washington is, we have people, not everybody, but some had in their minds early on, they want to be a congressman. then they do everything they can to be a congressman. and once the become a congressman, they do not know why they are a congressman. all they know is they want to stay a congressman. this is true not just in politics, but business, as well. the most successful business people i know do not start off saying i want to be rich.
what they say is i want to invent a personal computer. and then it turns out steve jobs or hewlett and packard or bill gates, you guys did a very good job. it just so happened that made you very rich. but there was a passion about trying to get something done. it is certainly true in politics. if you want to be in politics, my advice to you is, why? what is it that you want to do? [applause] pres. obama: do you want to provide a good education to young people? do you want to alleviate poverty? do you want to make sure everybody has health care? do you want to promote peace between ethnic groups in your country?
do want to preserve the environment? whatever it is you want to do, start doing it because you do not have to have an office to do that. [applause] pres. obama: you can start a program to help young women in your village get an education. you can decide in whatever part of nigeria you're from, that you can go back and try to promote health and wellness programs for young people. the experience you get from doing these things will inform the nature of why you might want to go into politics. it may turn out that you're making such a difference and
having such an impact without going into politics, that you decide, i do not want to do that, i want to keep building what i am doing. if you do decide to go into politics, you will have not only the experience, but the credibility with the people you want to represent because they had seen you actually doing something useful. the last point i would make, politics is a little bit like going into acting or being a musician. and what i mean by that is you can be really talented, but maybe the timing is off. maybe you did not get a lucky break. you cannot guarantee you will be or successful in a particular office. when you think about me being
president of the united states, it was quite unlikely. [applause] pres. obama: i still remember, i ran for the senate and won my primary but still had the general election. then i spoke at the democratic national convention in 2004. the fact that john kerry picked me to speak was accidental. i gave a pretty good speech. [applause] pres. obama: the day after the speech, my name was everywhere , and i was on television and people were saying, wow, who is who is this guy, obama? that was wonderful, we were impressed and he has a future, maybe someday he will run for president. and i told my friend, because we were still in boston and
were walking, there were huge crowds, people wanting to shake my hand. i said i am no more smarter today than i was yesterday. [applause] [laughter] pres. obama: i did not suddenly, magically become so much better than i was when i was just a state senator. some of it had to do with just chance. it was luck. you do not have control completely over luck, fate, chance. but you do have control over being useful and getting good work done in your community. [applause] pres. obama: focus on that. if you stay focused on that, maybe success comes in politics, but if it does not, you will still be able to wake up every morning and say, i am making a difference, i am doing good
work. [applause] pres. obama: i only have time for one question. i have been working up here. one question. the young lady right there. right there. go ahead. where are you from? >> i am from sudan. pres. obama: no, i cannot do another sudanese. >> oooh. pres. obama: i love you. i have to be fair. i need a make sure another country gets a chance. i cannot hear. i cannot hear. wait, wait, wait, wait i cannot hear.
from cameroon. go ahead. right here. from cameroon. i will shake your hand because i feel it was unfair for me to call on you. come up to the front. i will make sure to shake your hand. >> thank you, mr. president for this opportunity. i am from cameroon. thank you ver. some of us come from areas where we do not integrate what we do here in the u.s., governments and environments are hostile. what are some of the strategies that you can put in place to make sure our government integrates all we have done here so that we can better impact our environment? thank you. [applause] pres. obama: we have been talking about this with the state department because one of my goals is to make sure the program continues after i leave.
[applause] pres. obama: i think that we have a great interest in both promoting this program, but also working with your government so that they see this is an enormous opportunity for them. what we want to let them know is that the talent that all of you represent will be the future of your countries. take advantage. we will partner with you and your governments to work on the projects you have designed, to make sure you have a sponsor that is looking out for you. i think the fact that we have
created these four regional centers and this network, and embassies in each of your countries are aware of what you have done, will be helpful to you. but in the end of the day, as i have said before, you are going to be the ones who have to take advantage of the opportunities. there will be some things we can do, but at the end of the day, your vision will have to be won by you and your fellow countrymen and women. part of the reason i love this program, it is not a matter of what america is doing for you, this is us being partners, but mainly, seeing what you can do yourselves to change and
transform your countries. i don't want to be -- look i , want to be honest with you. there are over 50 countries represented here. it represents a wide spectrum. some of you will go back, and what you are doing is welcome. some of you will go back, and, not so much, depending on the kinds of things you want to do. maybe if you are just focused on public health, you will get less resistance. if you're interested in human rights or democracy, you might get more resistance. there are some countries where you being active and speaking out publicly can be dangerous. there are some places where it is welcome. there are some places where freedom of the press is observed, others where it is
viewed as objectionable. i cannot, and america cannot, solve all those problems. and if i were to promise that, i would not be telling the truth. [applause] pres. obama: but what i can do, what i can do is to make sure that the program continues, that the network continues to get built, and that the state department is engaged with your countries, explaining why what you represent is so important for the continent. and i can also commit to, even after i am president, that this is a program that i continue to participate in and work with because it is something that i am very, very proud of. thank you, everybody.
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share it on such immediate or in e-mail. c-span.org is your most conference of guide for finding video moment from the convention. >> "washington journal" is next. we will look at today's news and take your calls. health officials will talk about the zika virus outbreak. watch live coverage from the center for american progress at 12:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. later, the white house cyber security court nader will be part of a discussion about how the government response to cyber attacks. live coverage begins at 2:15 p.m. eastern. coming up this hour, we will litifact about the accuracy of hillary clinton's and downtown's statements on the campaign trail. we talk about how military and
veterans issues are playing out election.ar's you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. ♪ host: welcome to "washington journal". the front pages of the national papers this morning all with headlines about the state of the republican party. let's begin with "the wall street journal." fro timeh patch campaign -- for trump campaign." gop reaches new level of panic. "usa today" with the headline. amanafort disputes reports of tomorrow. "the washington times" trump