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An expectant crowd packed the room on the 11th floor of London’s City Hall, which has a spectacular view over Tower Bridge, for the announcement of the winner of this year’s $5 million Ibrahim prize for achievement in African leadership.
The prize committee, including Mary Robinson, former U.N. high commissioner for human rights, and Salim Ahmed Salim, one-time secretary-general of the Organisation of African Unity, files in.
A hush falls over the room as former Botswana President Ketumile Masire goes to the podium to read the prize committee’s statement. And the winner is … nobody!
Although they had considered some “credible candidates”, Masire said the committee could not select a winner for the prize which rewards former African leaders who set examples of democratic government.
As expected, U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech to Africa in Accra had plenty to say on the importance of good governance – but there was also a very strong message that his “new moment of promise” is one that Africans have to seize for themselves.
“You have the power to hold your leaders accountable, and to build institutions that serve the people. You can serve in your communities, and harness your energy and education to create new wealth and build new connections to the world. You can conquer disease, end conflicts, and make change from the bottom up. You can do that. Yes you can. Because in this moment, history is on the move,” Obama said.