The end result of multiculturalism
Take a White House state dinner and multiply it by 50. The result is the most elaborate and unusual dinner of President Barack Obama's administration, a one-of-a-kind affair put on Tuesday night for a one-of-a-kind gathering of several dozen leaders from countries across Africa.
The leaders are attending a three-day conference organized by the White House and aimed at boosting U.S. ties to the continent.
Obama wasted little time highlighting his own personal connection to Africa during a brief toast.
Guests at the summit dined on chilled spiced tomato soup and socca crisps, which are made of chick peas; chopped farm-stand vegetable salad using produce from the first lady's garden; and grilled dry-aged Wagyu beef served with chermoula, a marinade used in North African cooking, sweet potatoes and coconut milk.
Dessert was cappuccino fudge cake dressed with papaya scented with vanilla from Madagascar. American wines were also on the menu.
Guests were shuttled down to a massive tent erected on the South Lawn because the White House, as big as it is, does not have any rooms large enough that can hold the more-than-400 invited guests.
‘I stand before you as the president of the United States, a proud American. I also stand before you as the son of a man from Africa,’ Obama said drawing applause. ‘The blood of Africa runs through our family, so for us, the bonds between our countries, our continents are deeply personal.’
He warmly recalled family visits to Kenya before he became president, as well as stops at historic sites in Ghana, Senegal and South Africa with his family while in office. And he offered a toast to ‘the new Africa, the Africa that is rising and so full of promise.’