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Obama Offers Rare Personal Toast on Africa

Speaks of family history at US-Africa Summit dinner
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2014 8:17 AM CDT
Obama Offers Rare Personal Toast on Africa
Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, President of the Republic of Mali ,and his wife Keita Aminata Maiga arrive for a dinner last night.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – President Obama isn't known for getting particularly personal at the podium, Politico notes, but in a speech at the US-Africa Summit, he offered up his own story. "I stand before you as the president of the United States and a proud American. I also stand before you as the son of a man from Africa," he said in a toast at a dinner last night. "The blood of Africa runs through our family. And so for us, the bonds between our countries, our continents, are deeply personal.”

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Obama discussed his memories of visiting Africa with his family, and he applauded "the new Africa, the Africa that is rising and so full of promise," the AP notes; the words referred to a song he heard in Senegal, Politico adds. He also referred to slavery, recalling a "painful past" and of "standing with our daughters in those doors of no return through which so many Africans passed in chains." The dinner was held on the White House's South Lawn because the crowd of 400-plus couldn't fit indoors; guests ranged from the presidents of South Africa and South Sudan to Jimmy Carter and Robert De Niro. (Read more President Obama stories.)

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