Ambassador’s Remarks for the Jr. NBA Youth League Launch

(As Prepared for Delivery)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Hamjambo!

Habari Zenu?

It’s great to be here on this exciting day as we celebrate Kenya’s new Junior NBA youth basketball program.  The NBA is perhaps the biggest and most famous American institution in global sports.  Its stars are household names around the world.  You know them: Michael Jordan, Stephen Curry, Hakeem Olajuwon. And the NBA’s core values – hard work, fair play, and a commitment to excellence – represent the best America has to offer.  I am pleased to welcome you here. Karibuni Kenya!

For many of us, sports inspire passion and excitement.  But sports – with an emphasis on rules, teamwork, and respect—can give people the tools necessary to succeed in life as well.  When you take the court with your team, the results will not be based on who you know or where you come from.  They will be based on how hard you work and how fair you play.  Learning fundamental skills, practicing hard, playing hard, and playing fair—these are the lessons the Junior NBA can teach the young athletes here today.

So I’m very pleased to have another American star, Chiney Ogwumike here with us today. Chiney, you are an inspiration.  Stars like her are successful because they worked hard to develop their talents when they were young.  And with practice to improve those skills each day, Chiney has become one of the best in the world.  Her achievements represent what the Junior NBA can teach the young people here today: discipline, teamwork, and determination will lead you on the path to success.  And if you apply these same principles to your life off the court, you can achieve your dreams.

Even though most of us will never be professional athletes, the ethos embodied in teamwork and fair competition is vital to society – from the economy to elections.  Kenya has long been at the forefront of a continent on the rise. Kenya, with its dynamic economy, strong democracy, and vibrant civil society is a leader.

This country has achieved much over the last several decades.  Yet there is still much room for progress.  Many challenges that must be met. And the future of Kenya will be in the hands of its youth, all of you. You are the future of Kenya—of Africa—and will chart the course this country takes.

In conclusion, once again, I would like to congratulate the National Basketball Association and its partner the Ford Motor Company.  You are contributing to a better future for Kenya’s young women and men.

And finally, and most importantly, I would like to congratulate the young athletes here today.  We believe in you and hope you make the most of this opportunity.  Make the future yours.

Pamoja tusonge mbele, Asanteni sana.