Obama gives Trump sharp rebuke in Mandela address on values

19 July, 2018, 01:23 | Author: Donna Miller
  • Where you can watch Obama’s Nelson Mandela lecture online

The first black president of the United States had been invited to pay tribute to South Africa's first black president to mark the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's birth.

"Just by standing on the stage honouring Nelson Mandela, Obama is delivering an eloquent rebuke to Trump", said John Stremlau, professor of global relations at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg.

The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory's Sello Hatang says: "With this centre we're trying to ensure that those that use it, benefit to full capacity". He stepped down in 1999 and died on 5 December 2013, at the age of 95. A former lawyer, Mandela was voted into power after the country's first free and fair democratic elections that witnessed the end of the apartheid system in 1994. This year, the lecture marked Mandela's centenary. In South Africa, Mandela is often known as Tata Madiba, an honorary title adopted by elders of Mandela's clan. The "Gandhi of the African continent" has received, and rightfully so, more than 250 honours including The Nobel Peace Prize and the Bharat Ratna.

Obama spoke to a crowd of more than 10,000 people at a cricket stadium in Johannesburg in the centrepiece event of celebrations 100 years since Nelson Mandela's birth.

"We now see much of the world threatening to return to an older, more risky more brutal way of doing business", Obama said.

In his speech on Tuesday, Obama warned that "strongman politics are ascending suddenly, whereby elections, some pretense of democracy, are maintained, the form of it".

How is Nelson Mandela International Day celebrated?

At a time when independent fact-checkers are calling out Trump about misleading and false statements nearly daily, Obama also took aim at politicians who lie, as well as those who attack the news media, as Trump routinely does."People just make stuff up", he said.

"In the west you've got far-right parties that oftentimes are based on platforms of protectionism and closed borders and barely hidden racial nationalism", Obama said.

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Obama was joined on stage by President Cyril Ramaphosa who also received a standing ovation and cheers from the crowd, Mandela's widow Graça Machel and businessman Patrice Motsepe.

While not mentioning Trump by name, Obama's speech countered numerous USA president's policies, calling on people to keep alive the ideas that Mandela worked for, including democracy, diversity and tolerance.

In his remarks, Obama sought to explain the present political moment, which he called "strange and uncertain".

Interested in Barack Obama?

Obama met Mandela only briefly in 2005 but gave a eulogy at his funeral saying Mandela "makes me want to be a better man" and hailing him as "the last great liberator of the 20th century".

Human rights lawyer George Bizos arrives at the 16th Nelson Mandela annual lecture.

He also planted a tree at Mandela's rural home.

The bright red Benz was marked with a plaque announcing it as Mandela's auto, sported an engraving of the South African flag, and had a personalised license plate inscribed with "999 NRM GP" - the NRM standing for Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

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