Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Lena Horne – one of our nation’s most cherished entertainers. Over the years, she warmed the hearts of countless Americans with her beautiful voice and dramatic performances on screen. From the time her grandmother signed her up for an NAACP membership as a child, she worked tirelessly to further the cause of justice and equality. In 1940, she became the first African American performer to tour with an all white band. And while entertaining soldiers during World War II, she refused to perform for segregated audiences – a principled struggle she continued well after the troops returned home. Michelle and I offer our condolences to all those who knew and loved Lena, and we join all Americans in appreciating the joy she brought to our lives and the progress she forged for our country.
The Rwandan leader was in Edmond, Oklahoma, attending the graduation last week of 10 Rwandese students at Oklahoma Christian University. He slipped away before legal papers could be served.
A leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, Kagame’s group had been in a power struggle with the Hutu-led government of Pres. Juvenal Habyarimana. The shoot-down of a plane carrying Habyarimana and Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira in April 1994 by unknown assailants set off a horrific killing spree. Ironically, both were returning from a regional peace meeting in Tanzania.
The $350 million wrongful death lawsuit accuses Kagame of ordering the plane to be shot down. Peter Erlinder of the International Humanitarian Law Institute in St. Paul, Minnesota, is handling the widows’ claims. Kagame's government has denied the accusations.
The inaugural African Grandmothers’ Gathering aims to build a “solidarity movement” across the continent, while seeking support from international donors and aid agencies.
"Grandmothers are at the frontline of the HIV/Aids impact. They have to pick up the pieces and move on,”. said Philile Mlotshwa of Swapol (Swaziland Positive Living), which is organizing the event in partnership with the Canadian-based Stephen Lewis Foundation.
"They are the heroes yet no one has gone to them to say we recognize your efforts." They don't have time to grieve because the children need to be looked after. They are doing this without any income.”
A delegation of 42 Canadian grandmothers from the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign of the Stephen Lewis Foundation will also attend the summit. The Queen Mother and prime minister of Swaziland will also attend the conference in Manzini, on from May 6 to 8.