Barack Obama makes reference of Mama Sarah in address at UN

What you need to know:

  • “Today,” the US head of state told his fellow world leaders, “whether you live in downtown Manhattan or in my grandmother’s village more than 200 miles from Nairobi, you can hold in your hand more information than the world’s greatest libraries.”
  • Mr Obama made that observation as part of a partly positive appraisal of the current state of the world.
  • In the only extended reference to sub-Saharan Africa in his speech, Mr Obama warned that the Ebola outbreak threatens to “kill hundreds of thousands, inflict horrific suffering, destabilise economies, and move rapidly across borders.”

President Barack Obama made reference to his Kenyan grandmother, Mama Sarah Obama, near the start of his 40-minute address on Wednesday to the United Nations General Assembly.

“Today,” the US head of state told his fellow world leaders, “whether you live in downtown Manhattan or in my grandmother’s village more than 200 miles from Nairobi, you can hold in your hand more information than the world’s greatest libraries.”

Mr Obama made that observation as part of a partly positive appraisal of the current state of the world.

He noted the reduced prospect of war between major powers and the spread of democratic governance.

“Hundreds of millions of human beings have been freed from the prison of poverty,” Mr Obama continued. “Together, we’ve learned how to cure disease and harness the power of the wind and the sun.”

The existence of the United Nations itself is “a unique achievement —the people of the world committing to resolve their differences peacefully, and to solve their problems together.”

But Mr Obama's speech focused more on the crises confronting the world than on the progress that has been made.

In the only extended reference to sub-Saharan Africa in his speech, Mr Obama warned that the Ebola outbreak threatens to “kill hundreds of thousands, inflict horrific suffering, destabilise economies, and move rapidly across borders.”

He noted that the United States is deploying doctors and scientists, “supported by our military,” to help contain the disease.

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