When Barack Obama stepped off Air Force One in Kenya it felt like a moment of affirmation and an opportunity to use the US president’s words to “call on the world to change its approach to Africa”.
As a continent, it depends less on aid now than it did in the past. Instead many countries which make up Africa are increasingly being seen as a global partner, not a minority shareholder in generating wealth, fighting terrorism and climate change.
Mr Obama made it clear that such a partnership demanded recognition, dignity and respect.
He argued that, in return, African nations needed to embrace the principles of equality, meritocracy and opportunity for all. Even if at times it grated with “the old ways of doing things” or challenged traditional beliefs.
But the US president also used the Africa tour as an opportunity to deliver some uncomfortable messages. Conspicuous by their absence were many heads of state at the Chinese built African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa – maybe that was just as well.
In what was the strongest performance on tour, the president seemed like a man with nothing to lose. With just a little over a year in office to go he knew he could perhaps be more bold, despite diplomatic difficulties he would have to navigate carefully.
Mr Obama made it clear that America would not be a lone voice rebuking its African friends when they strayed from the path of democracy.
He said he expected African leaders to do the same, through the African Union. For many years it’s been slammed by critics as being nothing more than a “talking shop”.
Perhaps the test of its mettle will be how it responds to the pressing troubles in South Sudan.