President Obama is re-naming an African fellowship program in honor of the late South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela.
Obama will make the announcement Monday during a town-hall-style meeting with guests who participated in the inaugural — and soon to be re-named — Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, officials said.
Discussing the fellowship program during a visit to South Africa last year, Obama said that “we want to engage leaders and tomorrow’s leaders in figuring out how we can best work together.”
The meeting is one in a series of upcoming events dedicated to U.S.-African relations, including the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit on Aug. 4-6.
The fellowship program to be re-named in Mandela’s honor is part of the Young African Leaders Initiative that Obama launched in 2010.
Fellowships are designed to give 500 young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa leadership training at American universities, as well as the chance to meet with government officials, entrepreneurs and civil society members from the United States. Obama announced creation of the fellowship program during the 2013 trip to South Africa.
Obama has often expressed his admiration for Mandela, who died in December at the age of 95. After serving 27 years in prison for anti-apartheid activities, Mandela went on to become the first black president of South Africa, serving from 1994 to 1999.
At a memorial service held in South Africa, Obama said Mandela was someone who believed in the power of actions and ideas, as well as laws and institutions. Mandela also understood “the ties that bind the human spirit,” Obama said.
Source: USA Today | David Jackson