Obama Applauds Zimbabwe Activist Abbigail Muleya’s Determination
Abbigail Muleya’s journey to America that started with a seven-hour bus ride from Binga, Zimbabwe, to the capital, Harare, became President Barack Obama’s anecdote about determination when he addressed 500 Washington fellows during the presidential summit on Monday at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.Muleya spent six weeks at Tulane University in New Orleans as one of 30 young Zimbabwean leaders who were selected to participate in the inaugural Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, an initiative Obama announced in 2013 as part of the Young African Leaders Initiative.
Obama first launched the initiative in 2010 to support an emerging generation of African leaders as they work to drive economic growth, enhance democratic governance, and strengthen civil society structures.
The president, who received a standing ovation as he kickstarted the three-day summit, said: “One young woman from rural Zimbabwe took a five-hour bus ride, then another six-hour bus ride, then another seven-hour bus ride — a two-day journey — just to get her interview.
“So today, we’re thrilled to welcome you, our Washington fellows, to an exchange program unlike any other that America has ever had with Africa. And among your ranks is that young woman from Zimbabwe who endured all those bus rides. So we want to welcome Abbigail Muleya. Where’s Abbigail? Where’s Abbigail? Where is she? There’s Abbigail. That’s a lot of bus rides,” Obama said to laughter by the audience.
The soft-spoken, confident young woman studied African Languages and Culture at Midlands State University in Gweru, graduating with an honors degree in 2009. She has worked as a community volunteer in Binga before her formal employment as projects officer at Zubo Trust, a women’s empowerment organization working with Tonga-speaking women in Binga.
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