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Obama Foundation Launches Year-Long Initiative To Support 200 Emerging Leaders In Africa

Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa will launch in Johannesburg, South Africa, in July.

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The Obama Foundation recently announced the launch of a year-long initiative to connect and support 200 emerging leaders across Africa, with the goal of helping them create positive change in their respective countries and communities. 

In what will be his most significant international project since leaving the White House, Barack Obama will gather the group of 200 in Johannesburg, South Africa, for five days of meetings, workshops and technical training, the New York Times reports. Through the initiative, the hope is to prepare the chosen leaders for roles in government, civil society and the private sector.

The program's chief international officer, Bernadette Meehan, said the chosen bunch were selected from nearly 10,000 applicants. 

During his time in Africa, Obama will also give a speech honoring Nelson Mandela.

Benjamin J. Rhodes, Obama's former speechwriter and one of his current advisers, said the speech will be “an opportunity to lift up a message of tolerance, inclusivity and democracy at a time when there are obviously challenges to Mandela’s legacy around the world.”

Rhodes added that Mandela continues to be an inspiration because he “endured far darker times than anything we’re enduring today.”

Obama has long spoken about the admiration he holds for the South African leader. In his 2013 eulogy for the civil rights icon, Obama said Mandela's example “makes me want to be a better man.”

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Tonja Renée Stidhum is a writer/director made of sugar and spice and everything rice. She has the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.