NAIROBI, Kenya — US first lady Jill Biden said Friday that she feels a kinship with Africans during her sixth visit to the continent, telling The Associated Press in an exclusive interview that she wants to support nations fighting for democracy — “the way I feel what this is.” we do. The United States.”
“We can’t take things for granted because it’s such a valuable system of government,” he said. “We can’t be complacent. We have to keep fighting for it.”
The first lady opened the door earlier this week in Namibia, a fledgling democracy, where she delivered a rousing speech to more than 1,000 students on Friday. He told them that the democracy their parents and grandparents had fought for was now theirs to protect and defend.
In the interview, Biden said that when first lady Monica Geingos invited him, “I thought there’s no better place than to go to Namibia” to “encourage young people to get involved, stay involved, fight for democracy, I feel like We do it in the United States.”
Africa’s 54 countries are a mix of sometimes fragile democracies in places like Nigeria, which has elections this weekend; and more troubled nations such as Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Chad and Sudan, which have seen coups in recent years; or Uganda, Gabon, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon, where presidents have held on to power for decades. Namibia gained independence from South Africa in 1990.
American democracy has been severely tested after the election of President Joe Biden in 2020, when incumbent President Donald Trump repeatedly lied about the election being stolen from him. Hundreds of his supporters, who believed in his conspiracy theories, rioted in the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 to prevent Congress from confirming Biden as the new president, thwarting the usual peaceful transfer of power.
In his speech, Biden said the voices of women and girls should be more prominent in the debate about democracy.
“As the first generation to be born into a free Namibia, the heritage created by your parents and grandparents is now yours – yours to protect and defend,” Biden told the majority of students at the Namibia University of Science and Technology.
“Growth is yours. And as we look forward, we must remember that the fight for democracy is never-ending.”
Later on Friday, Biden continued on to Kenya, the second and final stop of his trip.
He highlighted the plight of women and girls in his previous posts in Namibia. In Kenya, he plans to use his stature to draw attention to the devastating drought in the Horn of Africa, which is starving people and threatening the lives of millions. In 2011, he visited during a severe famine.
“I hope you know people are paying attention,” Biden said in the AP interview. “To see the drought and what I’ve seen before, only with children who don’t have food and can’t keep livestock. , they can’t grow crops and starve, so I’m really trying to raise awareness and see how far things have come in the 10 years since I’ve been gone.”
The first lady, who has spent time in more than half a dozen African countries, said she is “having a great time” on the continent.
“I learned that every country is so different — the people are different, the culture is different, the religion is different, the language is different,” she said. “But you know, we all share a lot of the same values.
“And I think that’s important, that we’re looking for stability, stable government. You know, we’re looking for representation of the people. We’re looking for leaders who have character and integrity, and I think that’s what we want to educate. And they’re doing that.”
He said the Biden administration is not “isolationist like we’ve become in the last administration,” referring to Trump and his America-first stance.
“We’re reaching out and saying, ‘Hey, we’re a global society. Hold our hands. Let’s do this together,” he said of the current administration.
Biden has worked with young people during his 30-year career as a teacher, and in his address to students, he said they should exercise their right to disagree, and if they see injustice, speak up and support leaders who listen to their concerns. .
He noted that in the United States, “we are still protecting and strengthening our democracy, almost 250 years after our founding.”
“It’s not easy. Democracy isn’t easy. It takes work,” he said during a rousing, rally-style speech. “But it’s worth it because democracy delivers.”
After that, he walked around the yard as he rarely does, shaking hands and taking selfies with lots of excited students. At one point, they cheered when he briefly danced to a drum-like African beat.