Barack Obama delivers speech in South Africa

Pauline Gross
July 18, 2018

Without mentioning current U.S. president Donald Trump, Obama said these were "strange and uncertain times".

Former US President Barack Obama, who has often talked about the influence of Mahatma Gandhi on his life, on Tuesday invoked him during a major speech, while articulating his vision of equality, justice and freedom.

But F.W.de Klerk, the former president who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela in 1993, said: "I'm convinced that President Mandela would be deeply concerned, as I am, about the present state of affairs in South Africa". "It's on the move at a pace that would have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago".

Obama has shied away from public comment on Trump, whose administration has reversed or attacked what he would consider notable achievements of his presidency.

"Populist movements, cynically funded by right-wing billionaires anxious about their own interests", Obama said. Without facts, there's no basis for cooperation.

"Yesterday we had Trump and Putin standing together, now we are seeing the opposing team: Obama and Mandela", said Stremlau. "If you start saying it is an elaborate hoax, where do we start?" "We will plant a special tree that will be called the Mandela shade which will hopefully encourage people to seek shelter under it and promote the communal spirit", Prof Mollo said.

Barack Obama offered what some of his supporters will see as not-so-veiled references to his successor in his speech honouring Nelson Mandela's legacy, defending democratic institutions and a free press, and condemning "strongman politics" and shameless leaders who "double down" when caught in lies.

A moment later, Mr Obama told the audience: "It used to be if you caught them [politicians] lying, they said: "Oh man".

Barack Obama

"Basic truths do not change", Obama said.

The former US president suggested a different path."Let me tell you what I believe", he said.

The Eastern Cape government and the Mvezo Traditional Council have partnered in commemorating International Nelson Mandela Day at his home village.

Since leaving the White House, Obama has largely avoided direct involvement in USA politics and has refrained from criticizing Trump. He stopped this week in Kenya, where he visited his late father's rural birthplace.

His speech highlighted how Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years, became South Africa's first black president after fighting to end the country's racist system of apartheid.

Obama said there were far-right parties in the West that have platforms of protectionism and closed borders but also a "barely hidden racial nationalism". And yes, democracy can be messy, and it can be slow, and it can be frustrating. "Whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained the form of it".

He said that there was a choice between two visions of humanity's future that the world must choose between.

"Things may go backwards for a while, but ultimately, right makes might", Mr Obama said. To believe that recent shifts in global politics are too powerful to push back.

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Other reports by GizPress

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