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Obama and Family Visit Slave Fortress in Ghana

Posted July. 13, 2009 08:25,   


U.S. President Barack Obama visited yesterday the slave fortress of Cape Coast Castle with his wife and two daughters, several hours before addressing the Ghanaian parliament in Accra.

Built in 1653, the fortress perched on a seashore 160 kilometers from Accra was a place to keep slaves captive and send them in chains to the United States. Due to this notoriety, it was called the “door of no return.”

After touring the fortress, Obama told reporters, “Today, my two daughters, who are also of African descent, just got an extraordinary tour of this castle. It reminds us of the capacity of human beings to commit great evil. As painful as it is, I think that it helps to teach all of us that we have to do what we can to fight against the kinds of evils that, sadly, still exist in our world, not just on this continent but in every corner of the globe.”

Saying, “I have the blood of Africa within me,” he talked about his grandfather, who was called “boy” while working as a cook for the British in Kenya though a respected elder in his village, and his father, who grew up herding but was educated in the United States. By doing so, the president urged Africans to lift themselves out of poverty, underdevelopment and war.

“Africa’s future is up to Africans…. You can conquer disease, and end conflicts, and make change from the bottom up…. America will be with you every step of the way -- as a partner, as a friend,” he said.

“Africa doesn`t need strongmen. It needs strong institutions,” he said, adding “From South Korea to Singapore, history shows that countries thrive when they invest in their people and in their infrastructure.”

In a news conference after the Group of Eight summit Saturday, Obama said, “When my father traveled to the United States from Kenya to study, at that time the per capita income and gross domestic product of Kenya was higher than South Korea`s. Today, obviously, South Korea is a highly developed and relatively wealthy country, and Kenya is still struggling with deep poverty in much of the country.”

“The South Korean government, working with the private sector and civil society, was able to create a set of institutions that provided transparency and accountability and efficiency that allowed for extraordinary economic progress, and that there was no reason why African countries could not do the same.”

Though Obama was only in Ghana for less than 24 hours, he received a warm welcome from the Ghanaian people. Broadcast companies continuously called Obama the son of an African. When he addressed the parliament in Accra, Ghanaian lawmakers chanted Obama’s most famous campaign slogan, "Yes, we can!"