I was at dinner on Necker Island in 2004 when my friend brought up a senator in Illinois. “I met the first black president of America this week,” said Suhail Rizvi. “He’s probably the brightest person I’ve ever met.” Though I didn’t take his prediction all that seriously, I respected Suhail’s opinion and noted down the name he mentioned: Barack Obama.
A few years later I was completely captivated by this young man’s inspiring message of hope, and transformational ascent to the White House. Eight years since Barack Obama became President, the inevitable questions about legacy are being asked. I think this moving video, where various people share their most memorable moments from the Obama Presidency, sums it up just beautifully.
President Obama spoke eloquently about his achievements, and about the need for everyone to protect democracy, in his farewell speech in Chicago. A few key areas that really stand out have also been highlighted by the White House, especially on protecting the ocean and tackling climate change. As he says: "It’s been said that we don’t inherit the Earth from our parents so much as we borrow it from our children." I wholeheartedly agree.
As for my own most memorable moment from the Obama Presidency, I have been fortunate enough to shared a few special occasions, not least being able to surprise Joan with a visit to the White House Christmas party, and (very briefly) sharing a dance with the wonderful First Lady Michelle Obama.
But what really stands out is a one-to-one meeting we had last year, where President Obama indicated our close alignment on various not-for-profit initiatives, including tackling climate change, conflict resolution, ocean conservation, prison and drug reform, capital punishment and inspiring young entrepreneurs.
I’m sure the Obama family will go on to achieve many more great things, with the grace, determination and compassion we have all came to know so well. I look forward to seeing them in action (and helping where I can).