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Keynote lecture delivered by Philip Emeagwali on April 18, 2007 at Michigan State University in commemoration of: 1. Proclamation of April 18 as PHILIP
23 Jan 2008
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Keynote lecture delivered by Philip Emeagwali on April 18, 2007 at Michigan State University in commemoration of: 1. Proclamation of April 18 as PHILIP
23 Jan 2008
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Keynote lecture delivered by Philip Emeagwali on April 18, 2007 at Michigan State University in commemoration of: 1. Proclamation of April 18 as PHILIP
23 Jan 2008
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Keynote lecture delivered by Philip Emeagwali on April 18, 2007 at Michigan State University in commemoration of: 1. Proclamation of April 18 as PHILIP
23 Jan 2008
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Keynote lecture delivered by Philip Emeagwali on April 18, 2007 at Michigan State University in commemoration of: 1. Proclamation of April 18 as PHILIP
23 Jan 2008
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Keynote lecture delivered by Philip Emeagwali on April 18, 2007 at Michigan State University in commemoration of: 1. Proclamation of April 18 as PHILIP
23 Jan 2008
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Keynote lecture delivered by Philip Emeagwali on April 18, 2007 at Michigan State University in commemoration of: 1. Proclamation of April 18 as PHILIP
24 Jan 2008
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How Do We Reverse the Brain Drain? Keynote speech by Emeagwali [emeagwali****] delivered on October 24, 2003, at the Pan-African Conference on Brain Drain, Elsah, Illinois USA. The entire transcript, letters and photos are posted at *******emeagwali****/speeches/brain-drain/to-brain-gain/reverse-brain-drain-from-africa.html. Permission to reproduce is granted. Thank you for the pleasant introduction as well as for inviting me to share my thoughts on turning “brain drain” into “brain gain.” For 10 million African-born emigrants, the word “home” is synonymous with the United States, Britain or other country outside of Africa. Personally, I have lived continuously in the United States for the past 30 years. My last visit to Africa was 17 years ago. On the day I left Nigeria, I felt sad because I was leaving my family behind. I believed I would return eight years later, probably marry an Igbo girl, and then spend the rest of my life in Nigeria. But 25 years ago, I fell in love with an American girl, married her three years later, and became eligible to sponsor a Green Card visa for my 35 closest relatives, including my parents and all my siblings, nieces and nephews. The story of how I brought 35 people to the United States exemplifies how 10 million skilled people have emigrated out of Africa during the past 30 years. We came to the United States on student visas and then changed our status to become permanent residents and then naturalized citizens. Our new citizenship status helped us sponsor relatives, and also inspired our friends to immigrate here. Ten million Africans now constitute an invisible nation that resides outside Africa. Although invisible, it is a nation as populous as Angola, Malawi, Zambia or Zimbabwe. If it were to be a nation with distinct borders, it would have an income roughly equivalent to Africa’s gross domestic product. Although the African Union does not recognize the African Diaspora as a nation, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) acknowledges its economic importance. The IMF estimates the African Diaspora now constitutes the biggest group of foreign investors in Africa. Take for example Western Union. It estimates that it is not atypical for an immigrant to wire 00 per month to relatives in Africa. If you assume that most Africans living outside Africa send money each month and you do the math, you will agree with the IMF that the African Diaspora is indeed the largest foreign investor in Africa. What few realize is that Africans who immigrate to the United States contribute 40 times more wealth to the American than to the African economy. According to the United Nations, an African professional working in the United States contributes about 50,000 per year to the U.S. economy. Again, if you do the math, you will realize that the African professional remitting 00 per month to Africa is contributing 40 times more to the United States economy than to the African one. On a relative scale, that means for every 00 per month a professional African sends home, that person contributes 2,000 per month to the U.S. economy. Of course, the issue more important than facts and figures is eliminating poverty in Africa, not merely reducing it by sending money to relatives. Money alone cannot eliminate poverty in Africa, because even one million dollars is a number with no intrinsic value. Real wealth cannot be measured by money, yet we often confuse money with wealth. Under the status quo, Africa would still remain poor even if we were to send all the money in the world there. Ask someone who is ill what “wealth” means, and you will get a very different answer than from most other people. If you were HIV-positive, you would gladly exchange one million dollars to become HIV-negative. When you give your money to your doctor, that physician helps you convert your money into health - or rather, wealth. Money cannot teach your children. Teachers can. Money cannot bring electricity to your home. Engineers can. Money cannot cure sick people. Doctors can. Because it is only a nation’s human capital that can be converted into real wealth, that human capital is much more valuable than its financial capital. A few years ago, Zambia had 1,600 medical doctors. Today, Zambia has only 400 medical doctors. Kenya retains only 10% of the nurses and doctors trained there. A similar story is told from South Africa to Ghana. I also speak from my family experiences. After contributing 25 years to Nigerian society as a nurse, my father retired on a 5-per-month pension. By comparison, my four sisters each earn 5 per hour as nurses in the United States. If my father had had the opportunity my sisters did, he certainly would have immigrated to the United States as a young nurse. The “brain drain” explains, in part, why affluent Africans fly to London for their medical treatments. Furthermore, because a significant percentage of African doctors and nurses practice in U.S. hospitals, we can reasonably conclude that African medical schools are de facto serving the American people, not Africa. A recent World Bank survey shows that African universities are exporting a large percentage of their graduating manpower to the United States. In a given year, the World Bank estimates that 70,000 skilled Africans immigrate to Europe and the United States. While these 70,000 skilled Africans are fleeing the continent in search of employment and decent wages, 100,000 skilled expatriates who are paid wages higher than the prevailing rate in Europe are hired to replace them. In Nigeria, the petroleum industry hires about 1,000 skilled expatriates, even though we can find similar skills within the African Diaspora. Instead of developing its own manpower resources, Nigeria prefers to contract out its oil exploration despite the staggeringly high price of having to concede 40% of its profits to foreign oil companies. In a pre-independence day editorial, the Vanguard (Nigeria) queried: “Why would the optimism of 1960 give way to the despair of 2000?” My answer is this: Nigeria achieved political independence in 1960, but by the year 2000 had not yet achieved technological independence. During colonial rule, Nigeria retained only 50% of the profits from oil derived from its own territory. Four decades after this colonial rule ended, the New York Times (December 22, 2002) wrote that “40 percent of the oil revenue goes to Chevron, [and] 60 percent to the [Nigerian] government.” As a point of comparison, the United States would never permit a Nigerian oil company to retain 40% of the profits from a Texas oilfield. Our African homelands have paid an extraordinary price for their lack of domestic technological knowledge. Because of that lack of knowledge, since it gained independence in 1960, Nigeria has relinquished 40% of its oilfields and 00 billion to American and European stockholders. Because of that lack of knowledge, Nigeria exports crude petroleum, only to import refined petroleum. Because of that lack of knowledge, Africa exports raw steel, only to import cars that are essentially steel products. Knowledge is the engine that drives economic growth, and Africa cannot eliminate poverty without first increasing and nurturing its intellectual capital. Reversing the “brain drain” will increase Africa’s intellectual capital while also increasing its wealth in many, many different ways. Can the “brain drain” be reversed? My answer is: yes. But in order for it to happen, we must try something different. At this point, I want to inject a new idea into this dialogue. For my idea to work, it requires that we tap the talents and skills of the African Diaspora. It requires that we create one million high-tech jobs in Africa. It requires that we move one million high-tech jobs from the United States to Africa. I know you are wondering: How can we move one million jobs from the United States to Africa? It can be done. In fact, by the year 2015 the U.S. Department of Labor expects to lose an estimated 3.3 million call center jobs to developing nations. In this area, what we as Africans need to do is develop a strategic plan – one that will persuade multinational companies that it will be more profitable to move their call centers to nations in Africa instead of India. These high-tech jobs include those in call centers, customer service and help desks – all of which are suitable for unemployed university graduates. The reason these jobs could now emerge in Africa is that recent technological advances such as the Internet and mobile telephones now make it practical, cheaper and otherwise advantageous to move these services to developing nations, where lower wages prevail. If Africa succeeds in capturing one million of these high-tech jobs, they could provide more revenues than all the African oilfields. These “greener pastures” would lure back talent and, in turn, create a reverse “brain drain.” Again, we have a rare and unique window of opportunity to convert projected American job losses into Africa’s job gain, and thus change the “brain drain” to “brain gain.” However, aggressive action must be taken before this window of opportunity closes. India is a formidable competitor. Therefore, we need to determine the cost savings realized by outsourcing call center jobs to Africa instead of India. That cost saving will be used as a selling point to corporations interested in outsourcing jobs. A typical call center employee might be a housewife using a laptop computer and a cell phone to work from her home. As night settles and her children go to bed, she could place a phone call to Los Angeles, which is 10 hours behind her time zone. An American answers her call and she says, “Good morning, this is Zakiya.” Using a standard, rehearsed script, she tries to sell an American product. Now that USA-to-Africa telephone calls are as low as 6 cents per minute, it is economically feasible for a telephone sales person to reside in Anglophone Africa while virtually employed in the United States, and – this is important - paying income taxes only to her country in Africa. I will give one more example of how thousands of call center jobs can be created in Africa. It is well known that U.S. companies often give up on collecting outstanding account balances of less than 0 each. The reason is that it often costs 0 in American labor to recover that 0. By comparison, I believe it would cost only 0 in African labor (including the 6 cents per minute phone call) to collect an outstanding balance of 0. Earlier, the organizers of this Pan African Conference gave me a note containing eleven questions. The first was: Do skilled Africans have the moral obligation to remain and work in Africa? I believe those with skills should be encouraged and rewarded to stay, work, and raise their families in Africa. When that happens, a large middle class will be created, thereby reducing the conditions that give rise to civil war and corruption. Then, a true revitalization and renaissance will occur. The second question was: Should skilled African emigrants be compelled to return to Africa? I believe controlling emigration will be very difficult. Instead, I recommend the United Nations impose a “brain gain tax” upon those nations benefiting from the “brain drain.” Each year, the United States creates a brain drain by issuing 135,000 H1-B visas to “outstanding researchers” and persons with “extraordinary ability.” The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), working in tangent with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), could be required to credit one month’s salary, each year, to the country of birth of each immigrant. Already, the IRS allows U.S. taxpayers to make voluntary contributions to election funds. Similarly, it could allow immigrants to voluntarily pay taxes to their country of birth, instead of to the United States. The third question was: Why don’t we encourage unemployed Africans to seek employment abroad? Put differently, if all the nurses and doctors in Africa were to win the U.S. visa lottery, who will operate our hospitals? If we encourage 8 million talented Africans to emigrate, what will we encourage their remaining 800 million brothers and sisters to do? The fourth question was: Should we blame the African Diaspora for Africa's problems? Yes, the Diaspora should be blamed in part, because the absence it’s created has diminished the continent’s intellectual capital and thus created the vacuum enabling dictators and corruption to flourish. The likes of Idi Amin, Jean-Bedel Bokassa and Mobutu Sese Seko would not be able to declare themselves president-for-life of nations who have a large, educated middle class. The fifth question was: Should we not blame Africa’s leaders for siphoning money from Africa’s treasuries? It becomes a vicious circle: the flight of intellectual capital increases the flight of financial capital which in turn increases again the flight of intellectual capital. Leadership is a collective process, and “brain drain” reduces the collective brainpower needed to fight corruption and mismanagement. For example, the leadership of the Central Bank of Nigeria did not call a news conference after Sani Abacha stole billion dollars from it. The bank’s Governor-General did not go on a hunger strike. He did not report the robbery to the police. He did not file a lawsuit. Had they the intellectual manpower to counter corruption, the results would have been very different. The sixth question was: Is it possible to achieve an African renaissance? Because by definition, a renaissance is the revival and flowering of the arts, literature and sciences, it must be preceded by a growth in the continent’s intellectual capital, or the collective knowledge of the people. The best African musicians live in France. The top African writers live in the United States or Britain. The soccer superstars live in Europe. It will be impossible to achieve a renaissance without the contributions of the talented. The seventh question was: For how long has the “brain drain” problem existed? A common misconception is that the African “brain drain” started 40 years ago. In reality, it actually began ten times that long. Four hundred years ago, most people of African descent lived in Africa. Today, one in five of African descent live in the Americas. Therefore, measured in numbers, the largest “brain drain” resulted from the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Contrary to what people believed, Africa experienced a brain gain during the first half of the 20th century. Schools, hospitals and banks were built by the British colonialists. These institutions were the visible manifestations of brain gain. At the end of colonial rule, skilled Europeans fled the continent. Skilled Africans started fleeing the continent in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. The result was the widespread rise of despotic rulers. The eighth question was: Is brain
24 Jul 2010
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6:52
Black Inventors and Scientists - Philip Emeagwali Excerpt from: TIME magazine *******www.time****/time/2007/blackhistmth/bios/04.html BLACK HISTORY MONTH by Madison Gray EMEAGWALI . COM P H I L I P E M E A G W A L I A C a l c u l a t i n g M o v e It's hard to say who invented the Internet. There were many mathematicians and scientists who contributed to its development; computers were sending signals to each other as early as the 1950s. But the Web owes much of its existence to Philip Emeagwali, a math whiz who came up with the formula for allowing a large number of computers to communicate at once. Emeagwali was born to a poor family in Akure, Nigeria, in 1954. Despite his brain for math, he had to drop out of school because his family, who had become war refugees, could no longer afford to send him. As a young man, he earned a general education certificate from the University of London and later degrees from George Washington University and the University of Maryland, as well as a doctoral fellowship from the University of Michigan. At Michigan, he participated in the scientific community's debate on how to simulate the detection of oil reservoirs using a supercomputer. Growing up in an oil-rich nation and understanding how oil is drilled, Emeagwali decided to use this problem as the subject of his doctoral dissertation. Borrowing an idea from a science fiction story about predicting the weather, Emeagwali decided that rather than using 8 expensive supercomputers he would employ thousands of microprocessors to do the computation. The only step left was to find 8 machines and connect them. (Remember, it was the 80s.) Through research, he found a machine called the Connection Machine at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which had sat unused after scientists had given up on figuring out how to make it simulate nuclear explosions. The machine was designed to run 65,536 interconnected microprocessors. In 1987, he applied for and was given permission to use the machine, and remotely from his Ann Arbor, Michigan, location he set the parameters and ran his program. In addition to correctly computing the amount of oil in the simulated reservoir, the machine was able to perform 3.1 billion calculations per second. The crux of the discovery was that Emeagwali had programmed each of the microprocessors to talk to six neighboring microprocessors at the same time. The success of this record-breaking experiment meant that there was now a practical and inexpensive way to use machines like this to speak to each other all over the world. Within a few years, the oil industry had seized upon this idea, then called the Hyperball International Network creating a virtual world wide web of ultrafast digital communication. The discovery earned him the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers' Gordon Bell Prize in 1989, considered the Nobel Prize of computing, and he was later hailed as one of the fathers of the Internet. Since then, he has won more than 100 prizes for his work and Apple computer has used his microprocessor technology in their Power Mac G4 model. Today he lives in Washington with his wife and son. The
9 Feb 2009
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7:50
Over the past 15 years, many U.S. and Canadian college campuses have asked famed pioneer of the Supercomputer and Internet, Philip Emeagwali, to speak on Africa Night, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and during Black History Month. Last year, he delivered a dozen high-profile keynote addresses at colleges and high-tech conferences around the United States. His speeches can be found on YouTube and are known to provoke an avalanche of commentary and debates on blogs, in newspapers and magazine articles, and in letters to editors around the world. Please review the info below and contact me for additional information. Regards, Donita Brown Booking Secretary 202-203-8724 801-640-9971 (fax) donitaemeagwali**** LONG BIOGRAPHY "An Unsung Hero" by TIME magazine SHORT BIOGRAPHY Philip Emeagwali — war survivor, supercomputer pioneer, and according to readers of London-based New African magazine, history's 35th greatest person of African descent — has been described by President Bill Clinton as "one of the great minds of the Information Age," as well as "the Bill Gates of Africa." He has been called "a father of the Internet" by CNN and TIME. Emeagwali won the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize, the Nobel Prize of supercomputing. SPEAKING STYLE Philip Emeagwali's high-content presentations will be customized to fit with your event theme. Regardless of the type of event, you can count on Emeagwali to use his unique skills of creativity, metaphor and innovation, and the hard-won lessons learned from them, to align his presentation closely with your goals. He will also assist listeners as they learn how to create innovative strategies for success in life. Emeagwali brings abstract ideas to life with his energy, emotion and passion. His lectures on incisive contemporary, technological and futuristic issues that affect the African Diaspora receive standing ovations and have a sense of longevity that finds expression in newspaper headlines and rave reviews on thousands of Web sites long after they are delivered. ONE SHEET INTRODUCTION (video) TOPICS creativity, innovation, diversity, globalization, futurism, internet and technology [We have one-sheets for each topic.] Most requested topics: brain drain, intellectual capital, poverty alleviation, Internet, youth motivation, assemblies, black history, Martin Luther King, Independence and Africa Days Lectures. BACKGROUND INDUSTRY A famed pioneer of the Supercomputer and Internet that was recognized by CNN and Time magazine as "a father of the Internet" and by then president Bill Clinton "one of the great minds of the Information Age," as well as "the Bill Gates of Africa." TESTIMONIALS "One of the great minds of the Information Age" — Bill Clinton, The White House "A Father of the Internet" — CNN "Unsung hero ... The Web owes much of its existence to Philip Emeagwali" — Time magazine "History's 35th greatest African" — New African magazine poll "I have never come across such a speech concentrated on solving the problem of Africa." — Aster Sagai (born in Eritrea), London, England "Sir, I must say that your speech on that faithful day have enabled me to rediscover myself, and also reminds me that Africa has great potentials that can make Africa rise to its glory." — Sunday Isoni "Your article [speech transcript] is the most inspirational document I have ever come across my whole life." --- Born in Ghana, living in Minnesota, USA. "I read with tears in my eyes the brain drain article [speech transcript]. Oh good lord!" — Gboyega VIDEO TESTIMONIALS "The Bill Gates of Africa" — Bill Clinton We Booked Emeagwali" — Meeting Planner We Booked Emeagwali" — Meeting Planner
23 Nov 2008
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Keynote lecture delivered by Philip Emeagwali on April 18, 2007 at Michigan State University in commemoration of: 1. Proclamation of April 18 as PHILIP
26 Jan 2008
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6:12
For more info, visit emeagwali**** From: TIME magazine *******www.time****/time/2007/blackhistmth/bios/04.html BLACK HISTORY MONTH by Madison Gray EMEAGWALI . COM P H I L I P E M E A G W A L I A C a l c u l a t i n g M o v e It's hard to say who invented the Internet. There were many mathematicians and scientists who contributed to its development; computers were sending signals to each other as early as the 1950s. But the Web owes much of its existence to Philip Emeagwali, a math whiz who came up with the formula for allowing a large number of computers to communicate at once. Emeagwali was born to a poor family in Akure, Nigeria, in 1954. Despite his brain for math, he had to drop out of school because his family, who had become war refugees, could no longer afford to send him. As a young man, he earned a general education certificate from the University of London and later degrees from George Washington University and the University of Maryland, as well as a doctoral fellowship from the University of Michigan. At Michigan, he participated in the scientific community's debate on how to simulate the detection of oil reservoirs using a supercomputer. Growing up in an oil-rich nation and understanding how oil is drilled, Emeagwali decided to use this problem as the subject of his doctoral dissertation. Borrowing an idea from a science fiction story about predicting the weather, Emeagwali decided that rather than using 8 expensive supercomputers he would employ thousands of microprocessors to do the computation. The only step left was to find 8 machines and connect them. (Remember, it was the 80s.) Through research, he found a machine called the Connection Machine at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which had sat unused after scientists had given up on figuring out how to make it simulate nuclear explosions. The machine was designed to run 65,536 interconnected microprocessors. In 1987, he applied for and was given permission to use the machine, and remotely from his Ann Arbor, Michigan, location he set the parameters and ran his program. In addition to correctly computing the amount of oil in the simulated reservoir, the machine was able to perform 3.1 billion calculations per second. The crux of the discovery was that Emeagwali had programmed each of the microprocessors to talk to six neighboring microprocessors at the same time. The success of this record-breaking experiment meant that there was now a practical and inexpensive way to use machines like this to speak to each other all over the world. Within a few years, the oil industry had seized upon this idea, then called the Hyperball International Network creating a virtual world wide web of ultrafast digital communication. The discovery earned him the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers' Gordon Bell Prize in 1989, considered the Nobel Prize of computing, and he was later hailed as one of the fathers of the Internet. Since then, he has won more than 100 prizes for his work and Apple computer has used his microprocessor technology in their Power Mac G4 model. Today he lives in Washington with his wife and son. The
9 Feb 2009
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2:47
View Header THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary (Abuja, Nigeria) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release August 26, 2000 REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN ADDRESS TO JOINT ASSEMBLY House of Representatives Chamber National Assembly Building Abuja, Nigeria 3:15 P.M. (L) THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Applause.) Mr. President of the Senate, the Speaker, Mr. Deputy President and Deputy Speaker, members of the Assembly. It is a great honor for me to be here with members of my Cabinet and government, members of the United States Congress, mayors of some of our greater cities, and my daughter. And we're glad to be here. (Applause.) I must say, this is the first time I have been introduced as President in eight years, speaking to parliamentary bodies all over the world, where they played a song before I spoke. (Laughter and applause.) I liked it a lot. (Laughter.) It got us all in a good frame of mind. Twenty-two years ago, President Jimmy Carter became the first President ever to visit sub-Saharan Africa when he arrived in Nigeria, saying he had come from a great nation to visit a great nation. (Applause.) More than two years ago, I came to Africa for the longest visit ever by an American President to build a new partnership with your continent. But sadly, in Nigeria, an illegitimate government was killing its people and squandering your resources. All most Americans knew about Nigeria then was a sign at their local airport warning them not to fly here. A year later, Nigeria found a transitional leader who kept his promises. (Applause.) Then, Nigerians elected a President and a National Assembly and entrusted to them -- to you -- the hard work of rebuilding your nation and building your democracy. Now, once again, Americans and people all around the world will know Nigeria for its music and art, for its Nobel Prize winners and its Super Falcons, for its commitment to peacekeeping and its leadership in Africa and around the world. In other words, once again, people will know Nigeria as a great nation. (Applause.) You have begun to walk the long road to repair the wrongs and errors of the past, and to build bridges to a better future. The road is harder and the rewards are slower than all hoped it would be when you began. But what is most important is that today you are moving forward, not backward. And I am here because your fight -- your fight for democracy and human rights, for equity and economic growth, for peace and tolerance -- your fight is America's fight and the world's fight. (Applause.) Indeed, the whole world has a big stake in your success -- and not simply because of your size or the wealth of your natural resources, or even your capacity to help lift this entire continent to peace and prosperity; but also because so many of the great human dramas of our time are being played out on the Nigerian stage. For example, can a great country that is home to one in six Africans succeed in building a democracy amidst so much diversity and a past of so much trouble? Can a developing country, blessed with enormous human and natural resources, thrive in a global economy and lift all its people? Can a nation so blessed by the verve and vigor of countless traditions and many faiths be enriched by its diversity, not enfeebled by it? I believe the answer to all those questions can, and must be, yes. (Applause.) There are still those around the world who see democracy as a luxury that people seek only when times are good. Nigerians have shown us that democracy is a necessity, especially when times are hard. The dictators of your past hoped the hard times would silence your voices, banish your leaders, destroy your spirit. But even in the darkest days, Nigeria's people knew they must stand up for freedom, the freedom their founders promised. Achebe championed it, Sunny Ade sang for it. Journalists like Akinwumi Adesukar fought for it. Lawyers like Gani Fawehinmi testified for it. (Applause.) Political leaders like Yar'Adua died for it. (Applause.) And most important, the people of Nigeria voted for it. (Applause.) Now, at last, you have your country back. Nigerians are electing their leaders, acting to cut corruption and investigate past abuses, shedding light on human rights violations, turning a fearless press into a free press. It is a brave beginning. But you know better than I how much more must be done. Every nation that has struggled to build democracy has found that success depends on leaders who believe government exists to serve people, not the other way around. President Obasanjo is such a leader. And the struggle to build democracy depends also on you, on legislators who will be both a check on and a balance to executive authority and be a source --(applause.) You know, if I said that to my Congress, they would still be clapping and standing. (Laughter.) And this is important, too -- let me finish. (Laughter.) In the constitutional system, the Legislature provides a check and balance to the Executive, but it must also be a source of creative, responsible leadership, for in the end, work must be done and progress must be made. (Applause.) Democracy depends upon a political culture that welcomes spirited debate without letting politics become a blood sport. It depends on strong institutions, an independent judiciary, a military under firm civilian control. It requires the contributions of women and men alike. (Applause.) I must say I am very glad to see a number of women in this audience today, and also I am glad that Nigerian women have their own Vital Voices program -- (applause) -- a program that my wife has worked very hard for, both in Africa and all around the world. Of course, in the end, successful political change must begin to improve people's daily lives. That is the democracy dividend Nigerians have waited for. But no one should expect that all the damage done over a generation can be undone in a year. (Applause.) Real change demands perseverance and patience. It demands openness to honorable compromise and cooperation. It demands support on a constant basis from the people of Nigeria and from your friends abroad. That does not mean being patient with corruption or injustice, but to give up hope because change comes slowly would only be to hand a victory to those who do not want to change at all. (Applause.) Remember something we Americans have learned in over 224 years of experience with democracy: It is always and everywhere a work in progress. It took my own country almost 90 years and a bitter civil war to set every American free. It took another 100 years to give every American the basic rights our Constitution promised them from the beginning. Since the time of our revolution, our best minds have debated how to balance the responsibilities of our national and state government; what the proper balance is between the President and the Congress; what is the roll of the courts in our national life. And since the very beginning, we have worked hard with varying degrees of success and occasional, regrettable, sometimes painful failures, to weave the diverse threads of our nation into a coherent, unified tapestry. Today, America has people from over 200 racial, ethnic and religious groups. We have school districts in America where, in one school district, the parents of the children speak over 100 different languages. It is an interesting challenge. But it is one that I am convinced is a great opportunity, just as your diversity -- your religious diversity and your ethnic diversity -- is a great opportunity. In a global society, growing ever more intertwined -- a great opportunity if we can find unity in our common humanity; if we can learn not only to tolerate our differences, but actually to celebrate our differences; if we can believe that how we worship, how we speak, who our parents were, where they came from are terribly important, but on this Earth, the most important thing is our common humanity, then there can be no stopping us. (Applause.) Now, no society has every fully solved this problem. As you struggle with it you think of the Middle East, Northern Ireland, the Balkans, the ongoing tragedy of Kashmir. And you realize it is a formidable challenge. You also know, of course, that democracy does not answer such questions. It simply gives all free people the chance to find the answers that work for them. I know that decades of mis-rule and deprivation have made your religious and ethnic divisions deeper. Nobody can wave a hand and make the problems go away. But that is no reason to let the idea of one united Nigeria slip away. After all, after all this time, if we started trying to redraw the map of Africa, we would simply be piling new grievances on old. Even if we could separate all the people of Africa by ethnicity and faith, would we really rid this continent of strife? Think of all the things that would be broken up and all the mountains of progress that have been built up that would be taken down if that were the case. Where there is too much deprivation and too little tolerance, differences among people will always seem greater, and will always be like open sores waiting to be turned into arrows of hatred by those who will be advantaged by doing so. But I think it is worth noting for the entire world that against the background of vast cultural differences, a history of repression and ethnic strife, the hopeful fact here today is that Nigeria's 250 different ethnic groups have stayed together in one nation. (Applause.) You have struggled for democracy together. You have forged national institutions together. All your greatest achievements have come when you have worked together. It is not for me to tell you how to resolve all the issues that I follow more closely than you might imagine I do. You're a free people, an independent people, and you must resolve them. All I can tell you is what I have seen and experienced these last years as President in the United States and in working with other good people with similar aspirations on every continent of the globe. We have to find honorable ways to reconcile our differences on common ground. The overwhelming fact of modern life everywhere, believe it or not, is not the growth of the global economy, not the explosion of information technology and the Internet, but the growing interdependence these changes are bringing. Whether we like it or not, more and more our fates are tied together -- within nations and beyond national borders, even beyond continental borders and across great oceans. Whether we like it or not, it is happening. You can think of big examples, like our economic interconnections. You can think of anecdotal examples, like the fact that we now have a phenomenon in the world known as airport
6 Nov 2009
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