On trip, Obama brings out the African in the American

Tue Jul 2, 2013 11:50pm EDT
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By Jeff Mason

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Midway through a three-country trip to Africa and shortly after an emotional tour of his hero Nelson Mandela's Robben Island prison cell, Barack Obama was greeted by another revered African leader, Desmond Tutu, with the words: "Welcome home."

America's first black president - 'the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas', as Obama describes himself - had returned to Africa for his first extended trip as the world's most powerful leader.

Despite disappointment that it took him so long, the continent, for the most part, welcomed him and claimed him as its own. People lined the streets in Dar es Salaam as Obama began and ended his visit to Tanzania, and young audiences in South Africa sprang to their feet to applaud his words.

"Your success is our success. Your failure, whether you like it or not, is our failure," the anti-apartheid hero Tutu, Cape Town's former Anglican archbishop, told Obama when they met at a youth center run by Tutu's HIV Foundation.

"We are bound to you. You belong to us. And your victory is our victory."

The moment was a reminder of the hopes that Obama's election in 2008 brought to Africa, which foresaw a future of stronger ties with the United States.

Though Obama dashed those hopes in his first term by largely skirting the continent, except for a brief visit to Ghana, he has sought to make up for lost time on this trip with a new push for more trade and a promise to provide electricity to millions.


President Barack Obama (3rd L), first lady Michelle Obama (3rd R) and their daughters Sasha (4th L) and Malia return to Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, July 2, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed