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Brighton Kaoma and President Barack Obama

Brighton Kaoma and President Barack Obama

In August 2017, Queen's Young Leader Brighton Koama sent this email to his ''guardian angels'' – those who have supported him on his journey – after a meeting with President Obama. He has kindly allowed us to share it on Leading Change.

Greetings from Washington DC.

On Monday 31st July, 2017 I had a monumental privilege of having an exclusive meeting with President Barack Obama at the Obama Foundation.

This was a life changing experience for me and thousands of other African young leaders who are working so hard to change the narrative about the African continent.

But these emerging young leaders, just like myself, continue to be supported by ''guardian angels'' like you all who are so passionate and determined about elevating the lives of young African Leaders.

You have shared your shoulders on which we all stand today. I wish to thank you for your unwavering love and selflessness.  

During my half an hour meeting with President Barack Obama, we discussed issues around the global threat of climate change – and why it's relevant for each and everyone to rise to the occasion and act to mitigate and adapt to this definitive challenge of our generation.

President Barack Obama congratulated me on the WWF International President's Award I was privileged to receive last year. And he acknowledged how powerful radio and low-cost communication technology can bring transformation to the African continent.

I narrated to President Obama my journey in radio and environmental advocacy, which emerged at the age of 14 when the Children’s Radio Foundation visited my community and equipped me with cutting-edge tools and skills in radio broadcasting and production.

The conversation was astonishing and a true revelation of the saying that ''nothing is impossible''.

President Obama explained his plans to engage and partner with young African leaders like myself in the activities being planned under the auspices of the Obama Foundation.

 Brighton Kaoma conversing with President Obama at Obama Foundation in Washington DC.

 Brighton Kaoma conversing with President Obama at Obama Foundation in Washington DC.

President Obama reiterated his commitment to supporting resilient and determined young people from across the African continent who are using their own initiative to come up with sustainable solutions to challenges their communities are faced with. 

Being the only young African to meet President Obama from a pool of 1,000 Mandela Washington Fellows of 2017 was a huge honour and a great learning curve.

I wish to reiterate the fact that this wouldn't have come without the support of you all.

This has come as an opportunity and a challenge at the same time. I wish you can all lend me your shoulders for me to stand on as I equally do the same to other young emerging leaders in Zambia and the African continent at large. 

In the words of President Barack Obama:

“Our challenge may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – honesty and hardwork, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old.

“These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.

“What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every citizen, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.” 

I look forward to this journey we have embarked on together as a commUNITY. 

Thanks again and God bless you all.