The basketball facility at the Sauti Kuu (Swahili for “Strong Voices”) Center was funded by Ujiri’s Giants of Africa Foundation as part of efforts to contribute towards youth development in the country. The Center includes other facilities such as a library, IT laboratory, a volleyball/netball court, and a standard size soccer pitch sponsored by the German Ministry of Development Cooperation.
Obama delivered a speech, recounting memories from his childhood in Kenya as he assisted his sister Auma Obama’s Sauti Kuu Foundation at the launching.
“Three years ago, I visited Kenya as the first sitting American President to come from Kenya. And, when I was President, it was a little bit harder to get up here because my plane didn’t fit the tarmac up here. But today, I am really coming as a brother, as a citizen of the world, as someone who has a connection to Africa, to talk about the importance of what she’s doing. But also to create a larger context for what’s possible.”
Obama also praised Ujiri for his contributions towards youth development on the continent and believes the opportunities for more growth is vast.
“I’ve had a chance to look around and it’s a remarkable space, and I’m also very happy to see that there is a basketball court.”
The Giants of Africa Foundation, founded by Ujiri, has a lofty plan to build basketball courts across Africa to commemorate its fifteen years of existence since it was established as a platform to help youths in Africa live better lives through basketball. Ujiri, whose mother is from Kenya and father from Nigeria, holds basketball camps across cities in Africa every year and has been expanding gradually to accommodate more countries.The basketball facility at the Sauti Kuu Center is the first of such basketball courts to be launched in its mission to expand its influence across the African continent. The launching was in partnership with Dr. Auma Obama’s Sauti Kuu Foundation, an organization focused on creating structures to help youth become mentally, socially, and financially independent. Ujiri plans to integrate native and cultural aesthetics into the design of the basketball courts to highlight the vibrancy of African cultures.
“Over the past 15 years, I have watched countless timid, hopeful kids transform into inspired, mission-driven leaders as a result of simply being exposed to more. As we work to create greater opportunities for young adults on the continent, expansion is our natural next step in delivering on our mission. Basketball opened so many doors and built me up on many levels, so I’m excited to pay that forward to the next generation of African giants.”
In attendance, also, were NBA Africa President Amadou Gallo Fall, NBA player Bismack Biyombo, and South African artiste Yvonne Chaka Chaka who performed at the event.