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Obama Concludes Africa Trip With Poignant Tribute to al-Qaida Bombing Victims

July 2, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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GWEN IFILL: Next: President Obama capped his weeklong tour of Africa today with a poignant remembrance in Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam.

Two U.S. presidents, one current, one former, paid tribute to the victims of al-Qaida’s 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and neighboring Kenya.

The former president who was on the continent to visit work done by his foundation was joined by his wife, Laura. She was hosting a summit on the roles Africa’s first ladies can play in their country. First lady Michelle Obama joined her there.

FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA: We get to work on what we’re passionate about. And I think that that’s something that I would encourage all first ladies to never lose sight of.

GWEN IFILL: Yesterday, to great fanfare, the Obamas arrived in Tanzania on the third and final leg of their trip across the continent. They had arrived from South Africa, where on Sunday their daughters joined them to tour Robben Island.

The now ailing Nelson Mandela spent 18 years there behind bars during his struggle against apartheid. The Tanzania visit provided a bridge between contributions made by previous U.S. leaders and the pledges Mr. Obama made on this visit. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, founded by Mr. Bush in 2003 with $15 billion dollars committed to HIV/AIDS treatment.

That effort was renewed and expanded in 2008, to the tune of $48 billion dollars. Yesterday, President Obama praised his predecessor’s work.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is one of his crowning achievements Because of the commitment of the Bush administration and the American people, millions of people’s lives have been saved.

GWEN IFILL: But he also pushed back against critics who say his own administration isn’t doing enough.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The fact of the matter is, is that we are serving four times the number of people today than we were when PEPFAR first began. But because we have gotten better at it and more efficient at it, we’re doing it at reduced costs.

And then we’re not taking that money out of global health. What we’re doing is, we’re putting it back into things like tuberculosis and malaria alleviation.

GWEN IFILL: While praising those achievements, Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete asked that Americans give even more.

PRESIDENT JAKAYA KIKWETE, United Republic of Tanzania: We are very appreciative. We are very, very thankful. It has really helped changed the lives of our people, but, if they can do more, please.

GWEN IFILL: On the streets of Dar es Salaam, some echoed President Obama’s call for more partnerships and less outright aid.

FABIAN KANA, Tanzania: As Tanzanians, we shouldn’t just wait for aid from developed countries. We have resources. We have a lot of natural resources. I like what President Obama said, that they are coming here to invest, but we have to meet halfway.

GWEN IFILL: Driving that point home, the president visited a power plant built with a U.S. grant, part of a newly announced $7 billion dollar initiative to double access to electricity in Africa.

There were some lighter moments as well. Today, with President Kikwete, he also kicked around this new invention called a socket ball. It creates and stores energy as it’s used, which can then power a light or charge a cell phone.

Shortly afterward, and once again with great ceremony, the president and first lady left for Washington.