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Obama tells young African leaders to follow Mahatma Gandhi

world Updated: Aug 04, 2010 15:00 IST

US President Barack Obama, who sees Mahatma Gandhi as an inspiration, has asked young African leaders to follow the legendary Indian icon to bring the changes they want in their continent.

"One of the things that I think everybody here has to really internalise is the notion that, you know, I think it was (Mahatma) Gandhi who once said, you have to be the change that you seek," Obama said.

He was responding to a question after addressing a meeting of Young African Leaders Forum, which he had convened bringing in young leaders from nearly 50 African countries to the White House.

In his speech at the event, the first of its kind organised by the US for African leaders, Obama said Africa's future belongs to its young people.

"We are going to keep helping empower African youth, supporting education, increasing educational exchanges like the one that brought my father from Kenya, in the days when Kenyans were throwing off colonial rule and reaching for a new future," Obama said.

"We are helping to strengthen grassroots networks of young people who believe, as they are saying in Kenya today, yes, youth can."

"You represent the Africa that so often is overlooked: the great progress that many Africans have achieved, and the unlimited potential that you've got going forward into the 21st century," he added.

"I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world... we have to have a strong, self-reliant and prosperous Africa," he said.

"So the world needs your talents and your creativity. We need young Africans who are standing up and making thing happen, not only in their own countries but around the world. And the US wants to be your partner," Obama said.