While the current commander-in-chief panhandles for Russia, former President Barack Obama travelled to South Africa to commemorate the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela, one of his greatest inspirations.
Obama travelled to Africa on Sunday where he first stopped in Kenya, the birthplace of his father. It is his first visit to Africa since leaving office in 2017.
He delivered the speech on Tuesday a day before the official commemoration at the 16th annual Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture. During his speech, he warned against “strongman politics,” emphasized need for global diplomacy, and delivered a message of hope directed at the youth.
He began his speech recalling Mandela and his legacy. Obama derived many of his beliefs from Mandela–a man who changed the course of history as the first Black president of South Africa. Their lives, uniquely parallel, were not lost on the committee who asked Obama to speak at the conference. Prior to Obama’s speech Mandela’s wife, Graça Machel, told the crowd of more than 15,000 people that Obama is one of the “finest global leaders of the 21st century” and a “youthful symbol of transformative leadership.”
Obama pulled from other impactful leaders before him mentioning Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Abraham Lincoln–three men who used the art of oration to move the masses.
After Trump’s stunning joint press conference with Vladimir Putin on Monday where he refused to acknowledge a known fact–that Russian officials conspired and interceded in the 2016 election, critics and supporters on both sides of the aisle blasted the Trump with calls of treason and incompetence. Obama took a moment to acknowledge Trump’s repeated faux pas and Trump’s commitment to undoing his legacy.
And in true fashion, Obama also delivered a message of perseverance to the youth–the next generation of global leaders.
Obama ended his speech with a tone of unity and togetherness. He used a Mandela quote he previously summoned during the Charlottesville attacks in August.