26 May 2018


Obama to deliver 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture   

by: Semphete Correspondent    date: 26 April 2018

It’s official, former President of the United States of America, Barack Obama will deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg in July.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Obama Foundation made this announcement on Monday. The Year 2018 has been declared the Year of Nelson Mandela in what the African National Congress (ANC) termed “100 Years of Nelson Mandela: The Year of Renewal, Unity and Jobs”. 
To honour the centennial of Madiba’s birth the lecture’s theme this year will be “Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World”. The Nelson Mandela Foundation said the lecture would focus on “creating conditions for bridging divides, working across ideological lines, and resisting oppression and inequality”.
Mandela’s would have turned 100 on 18 July, the day already commemorated as the Nelson Mandela International Day. Obama would have delivered the lecture a day before at the Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg. About 4,000 people are expected to attend.
For most of his life, Nelson Mandela fought for democracy and equality. His presidency was defined by his efforts to solidify the fragile democracy of South Africa and by his lessons on the politics of ‘bridge-building’ over the politics of division.
With the mission of the Obama Foundation being to “inspire and empower people to change their world” the former US President is one of the most suitable people to deliver the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture. 
“From leaders who are already making an impact, to people who are interested in becoming more involved, but don’t know where to start, our goal is to make our programs accessible to anyone, anywhere. We’ll equip civic innovators, young leaders, and everyday citizens with the skills and tools they need to create change in their communities,” says the Obama Foundation on its website. 
Inaugural Obama Foundation fellows include Bokone Bophirima’s own Koketso Moeti, a civic activist from Rooigrond. She was chosen among some 20 000 applicants from around the world. Moeti has for almost four years now run amandla.mobi a digital platform that has mobilized more than 200 000 people around various issues that include lack of housing and police brutality, with a strong focus on women and poverty. 
The New York Times reported that during his visit to South Africa, Obama would also be inaugurating “his most significant international project as an ex-president” – convening 200 young people in Johannesburg for five days of meetings, workshops and technical training as part of his Foundation’s work. 
Obama’s former speechwriter, Benjamin J. Rhodes, who still advises him, told the newspaper that the Nelson Mandela Lecture gives the former US President “an opportunity to lift up a message of tolerance, inclusivity and democracy at a time when there are obviously challenges to Mandela’s legacy around the world. Mandela endured far darker times than anything we’re enduring today,” Rhodes said. 
He added that Obama views the Nelson Mandela Lecture as “the most important speech he has given since leaving the White House, one that will set the tone for his post-presidency”. 
And you should look forward to this year’s Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture because Obama is likely to write that speech himself, from top to bottom, now that he’s got more time on his hands, said Rhodes. 
Obama has never made secret his admiration of Mandela and his values and after the statesman’s passing in 2013 he got a standing ovation when he eulogized him by saying: “and while I will always fall short of Madiba’s examples, he makes me want to be a better man.”
The former US President once said Mandela inspired what was his first “act of political activism” — a speech he gave as a student at Occidental College for the anti-apartheid movement.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation said this Annual Lecture is a unique platform to drive debate on critical social issues in South Africa and around the world. Previous speakers include global thought leaders and change makers such as Presidents Bill Clinton, Thabo Mbeki, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Mary Robinson and Michelle Bachelet, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, Nobel Laureates Kofi Annan, Wangari Maathai, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Muhammad Yunus, Professors Ariel Dorfman, Thomas Piketty and Ismail Serageldin as well as philanthropists Bill Gates and Mo Ibrahim.