Published: Wed, July 18, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Prof Lumumba delivers Nelson Mandela memorial lecture

Prof Lumumba delivers Nelson Mandela memorial lecture

"If I say this is a podium and you say it's an elephant, it's hard for us to cooperate..." Human beings do not live on bread alone. "There's something they're just afraid of", Obama said.

"I would have thought we would have figured that out by now".

He spoke about the 9/11 terror attack in the US, America's interference in the Middle East and the growing influence of countries such as China and Russian Federation, as well as the influence of big business and the wealthy elite, describing these as "strongman politics".

He added, "I belive we have no choice but to move forward, that those of us who belive in democracy and civil rights have a better story to tell".

Obama urged those who have to give more to those who do not have instead of acquiring things they do not need.

But it was clear his lecture to mark the 100th birthday of former South African president Nelson Mandela was aimed at encouraging the world to adopt the philosophies of the late anti-apartheid leader and not some of the "strongmen" heads of state.

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"They just make stuff up".

In another notable passage, Obama appeared to endorse a universal basic income, saying, "It's not just money that a job provides".

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

"All across the world", Obama said, in the 20th century "democracy challenged dictatorships".

Obama concluded his speech by encouraging young people to stay politically active and to have faith in democracy despite how "slow" and "frustrating" it can be at times.

Obama said that much progress had been made over the years but that the worldwide world order had fallen short on its promises and it had become evident that more needed to be done. "The result of all these trends has been an explosion in economic inequality". As a result, he said, "we now see much of the world threatening to return to an older, a more unsafe, a more brutal way of doing business". "Because history also shows the power of fear".

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Prior to delivering his emotive hour-and-a-half speech at Bidvest Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, Obama made few public appearances since he left the White House in 2017.

Obama has often spoken of how much Mandela, a liberal leader with activist roots, influenced him. Ahead of his address, Obama was in Kenya where he opened a youth centre which will be run by his half-sister.

Obama's speech followed remarks by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and Mandela's widow, Graça Machel, formerly a freedom fighter and minister in Mozambique's government.

Despite this year hosting Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the White House, Trump never retracted the statement that became a nightmare for USA diplomats.

Imprisoned for almost three decades for his fight against state-sanctioned racial segregation, he was freed in 1990 and quickly set about working to unite the nation through forgiveness and reconciliation, becoming South Africa's first black president.

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