Clinton to young African leaders: Africa’s progress is ‘up to you’

At the President’s Forum with Young African Leaders this afternoon, Secretary Clinton told a group of successful young African entrepreneurs and civil society leaders that, ultimately, progress in Africa is is "up to you." After saying, "I see Africa as a continent brimming with potential, a place that has so much just waiting to be ...

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

At the President's Forum with Young African Leaders this afternoon, Secretary Clinton told a group of successful young African entrepreneurs and civil society leaders that, ultimately, progress in Africa is is "up to you."

After saying, "I see Africa as a continent brimming with potential, a place that has so much just waiting to be grasped," she went on to say:

Across Africa, more citizens believe they now have the power and the duty to shape their own lives, to help their communities, to hold their governments accountable.… I want to focus on these gains because it is through this positive progress that we can motivate and incentivize even more to take place. And ultimately, it is up to you. The president and I very much believe in Africa's promise, and we can do what's possible from afar to assist and to be front-row cheerleaders, if you will. But ultimately, it is up to you, and to citizens like you, to make sure that we sustain and deepen the progress.

At the President’s Forum with Young African Leaders this afternoon, Secretary Clinton told a group of successful young African entrepreneurs and civil society leaders that, ultimately, progress in Africa is is "up to you."

After saying, "I see Africa as a continent brimming with potential, a place that has so much just waiting to be grasped," she went on to say:

Across Africa, more citizens believe they now have the power and the duty to shape their own lives, to help their communities, to hold their governments accountable.… I want to focus on these gains because it is through this positive progress that we can motivate and incentivize even more to take place. And ultimately, it is up to you. The president and I very much believe in Africa’s promise, and we can do what’s possible from afar to assist and to be front-row cheerleaders, if you will. But ultimately, it is up to you, and to citizens like you, to make sure that we sustain and deepen the progress.

Clinton noted President Obama’s remark last year in Ghana: "Africa’s future is up to Africans." And she added that the United States "stand[s] ready to be your partners," working "in a spirit of mutual respect and accountability."

The impression is that the United States doesn’t want to be paternalistic. Even if it tried calling the shots in Africa, it wouldn’t work. Rather, development must come from within, with every child growing up to be able to use his or her "God-given talents and potential" to make the continent thrive. At most, the United States can be a "cheerleader" or a partner, an actor with solely an auxiliary role. 

Ultimately, only the citizens within a country can build it and make it successful. Now, if only only there were more of this going on in Afghanistan.…

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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