Now, we’re also going to work with you to pursue the second pillar of progress, and that is development that extends economic opportunity and dignity for all of Kenya’s people.
America partners with Kenya in areas where you’re making enormous progress, and we focus on what Kenyans can do for themselves and building capacity; on entrepreneurship, where Kenya is becoming an engine for innovation; on access to power, where Kenya is developing clean energy that can reach more people; on the important issue of climate change, where Kenya’s recent goal to reduce its emissions has put it in the position of being a leader on the continent; on food security, where Kenyan crops are producing more to meet the demands of your people and a global market; and on health, where Kenya has struck huge blows against HIV/AIDS and other diseases, while building up the capacity to provide better care in your communities.
America is also partnering with you on an issue that’s fundamental to Kenya’s future: We are investing in youth. We are investing in the young people of Kenya and the young people of this continent. Robert F. Kennedy once said, “It is a revolutionary world that we live in,” and “it is the young people who must take the lead.”
So through our Young African Leaders Initiative we are empowering and connecting young people from across the continent who are filled with energy and optimism and idealism, and are going to take Africa to new heights. And these young people, they’re not weighted down by the old ways. They’re creating a new path. And these are the elements for success in this 21st century.
To continue down this path of progress, it will be vital for Kenya to recognize that no country can achieve its full potential unless it draws on the talents of all its people — and that must include the half of Kenyans — maybe a little more than half — who are women and girls.
Every country and every culture has traditions that are unique and help make that country what it is. But just because something is a part of your past doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t mean that it defines your future.
Look at us in the US. Recently, we’ve been having a debate about the Confederate flag. Some of you may be familiar with this. This was a symbol for those states who fought against the Union to preserve slavery.
Now, as a historical artifact, it’s important. But some have argued that it’s just a symbol of heritage that should fly in public spaces. The fact is it was a flag that flew over an army that fought to maintain a system of slavery and racial subjugation.
So we should understand our history, but we should also recognize that it sends a bad message to those who were liberated from slavery and oppression.
And in part because of an unspeakable tragedy that took place recently, where a young man who was a fan of the Confederate flag and racial superiority shot helpless people in a church, more and more Americans of all races are realizing now that flag should come down. Just because something is a tradition doesn’t make it right.