Obama warns against China’s model and the rise of ‘strongman politics’

Frederick Owens
July 18, 2018

The 16th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture was slated to start at 7:55 a.m. ET. "That's what I believe", Obama said.

"This is another one of those things that I didn't think I had to lecture about", Obama said.

Obama's comments come a day after Trump's comments questioning U.S. intelligence following his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin earned widespread criticism, and as the Trump administration has been under fire for enacting a "zero-tolerance" stance on migrants crossing the Mexican-U.S. border illegally, which resulted in the separation of almost 3,000 children from their parents.

He shared the stage with President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ Mandela's widow Graça Machel‚ businessman Patrice Motsepe and Nelson Mandela Foundation trustee Njabulo Ndebele.

"I am not alarmist, [I am] just stating facts", the former American leader added.

Events have been planned throughout the year for the 100th anniversary of his birth, including a large concert in December in South Africa that will be headlined by Beyonce and Jay-Z and hosted by Oprah Winfrey and others.

"Given the unusual and uncertain times that we are in". Speaking to a crowd of 15,000 people at a Johannesburg cricket stadium to mark what would have been Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday, Obama recounted human progress over the last century, lauding the advancements that have been made on social, racial, and economic issues in America and overseas.

"Just as people spoke about the triumph of democracy in the 90s, people now are talking about the triumph of tribalism and the strong man".

Barack Obama

South Africans are being encouraged to do a good deed for at least 67 minutes today or contribute financially to a good cause in honour of former President Nelson Mandela. "If I say this is a podium and you say this is an elephant, it's going to be hard for us to cooperate", he said.

In what was perhaps another allusion to Trump, he criticized leaders who "just make stuff up.when they're caught in a lie and they just double down".

Obama's speech came after Trump's high-profile visit to Europe, during which he claimed the bloc was "losing its culture" because of immigration. "Of young and old, of both men and women, of black and white", she said of both leaders.

"Yesterday we had Trump and Putin standing together, now we are seeing the opposing team: Obama and Mandela", said Stremlau.

"It is a plain fact that racial inequality still exists, in the United States and in South Africa".

Mandela was imprisoned under apartheid rule in 1962 and only freed in 1990, when he went on to lead the African National Congress party to victory in the first multi-race elections in 1994.

Obama also made a point of visiting Mandela's prison cell, and gave a moving eulogy at Mandela's memorial service in 2013, saying the South African leader's life had inspired him.

Obama rallied the crowd in Johannesburg to respect human rights and keep Mandela's ideas alive, at a time of threats to tear down what's been built over the last few decades.

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