The Guardian

President Obama continued his diplomatic visit to Kenya on Sunday with a speech focusing on gender issues including sexual violence, education and the forced marriage of minors.

The president, whose father was from Kenya, got right to the point on the first topic, saying, “There’s no excuse for sexual assault or domestic violence.”

He also spoke against genital mutilation practices still carried out in the country as part of long-standing tradition and warned that any country that fails to educate girls and provide employment opportunities for women “is doomed to fall behind in the global economy.”

Making a more universal appeal, Obama argued, “These are issues of right or wrong in any culture.”

The Guardian relayed details of his speech in Nairobi:

The US president, whose ancestry has at times been a politically awkward part of his identity, looked at ease as he embraced his status as a “Kenyan American” in a major speech that also condemned corruption, tribalism and terrorism.

Obama earned vociferous applause from 4,500 Kenyans at a sports arena in the capital, Nairobi, by throwing down the gauntlet over the rights of women and girls. He gave short shrift to those in Africa who hide behind arguments defending tradition and culture against values they say are imposed by the west. Considering his heritage, it was a case he could make better than any previous US president.

“Every country and every culture has traditions that are unique and help make that country what it is, but just because something is part of your past doesn’t make it right; it doesn’t mean it defines your future,” Obama said, citing the recent debate in America over the Confederate flag.

Sunday’s event followed Obama’s attempt the day before to change the Kenyan government’s stance on gay rights, to which Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was not receptive.

Watch Obama hold court in Nairobi below (via The Guardian):

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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