Mandela Day: Barack Obama pays tribute to young leaders like Enock

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Enock Nkulanga travelled to South Africa with the Obama Foundation

Celebrities, Girls' education, Global Youth Ambassadors, Refugees and internally displaced people, Right to education

In a passionate speech in South Africa, the former US president praised the work of our Global Youth Ambassador and other activists. 

Enock Nkulanga had a moment he will never forget – when former US President Barack Obama paid tribute to his work as a young leader.

On the eve of what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, President Obama talked passionately in South Africa yesterday about the power of young people to change the world.

In his speech, he specifically mentioned the advocacy and campaigning mission of Enock, who is a Global Youth Ambassador with Theirworld’s A World at School movement.

Enock – a Rwandan refugee living in Uganda – was among 200 emerging leaders selected to travel to Johannesburg with the Obama Foundation.

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Enock, left, with other young African leaders in Johannesburg (Enock Nkulanga)

On Twitter, he said: “Thank you Mr President for recognising the work I do. It is an honour to be using my voice to better the lives of others.”

Giving the 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture the day before Mandela Day, President Obama said what the world needs right now is not just one great leader or one inspiration.

“What we badly need right now is that collective spirit,” he said. “And I know that those young people, those hope carriers, are gathering around the world.

“So, young people … my message to you is simple – keep believing, keep marching, keep building, keep raising your voice. Every generation has the opportunity to remake the world. 

“Mandela said: ‘Young people are capable, when aroused, of bringing down the towers of oppression and raising the banners of freedom.’ Now is a good time to be aroused. Now is a good time to be fired up.”

President Obama said his foundation had brought together 200 young African leaders who reflect Mandela’s values and who “are poised to lead the way”.

He added: “People like Enock Nkulanga, who directs the African Children’s Mission, which helps children in Uganda and Kenya get the education that they need.

“And then, in his spare time, Enock advocates for the rights of children around the globe and founded an organisation called LeadMinds Africa, which does exactly what it says.”

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(Enock Nkulanga)

Enock has been a Global Youth Ambassador – one of a network of more than 900 young activists in over 80 countries – since 2016. He is also a Mandela Institute Development Studies Fellow and a Women Deliver Young Leader.

On Day of the African Child last month, he was involved in an event to help keep Ugandan girls in school during their periods.

He said: “It is so important for women and girls to receive this help and support, as currently millions of girls around the world still miss school because of a lack of sanitary products.”

You can learn more about Enock’s work through blogs he has written for Theirworld.

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