Obama connects with SA's youth

2013-06-29 19:12
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - US President Barack Obama was met on Saturday with songs, cheers and laughter from youth of the Soweto campus of the University of Johannesburg.

Before he entered the room, the crowd sang songs from the struggle against apartheid and burst into a lively round of Shosholoza.

As he appeared, Obama shouted out, "Yebo Mzanzi!" [Yes, South Africa] to jubilation from the crowd.

The president used the town-hall-style meeting, which was hooked up via video link to several other African nations, to encourage young people to innovate and act on their imaginations.

While Nelson Mandela, who Obama said was a personal hero and "one of the greatest people in history", was still in hospital in critical condition, his spirit was felt in the room.

"Building the future you see, realising the vision you have not only for your own country but for the world - it will not be easy," Obama told the hundreds of young people in attendance at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto campus.

"But as you go forward, think of the man who is in our prayers today. Think of 27 years in prison. Think of the hardship and struggles and being away from family and friends," Obama said.

Obama was quick to stress the importance of education, as Mandela had always done, saying it was the "best investment" any country could make in its youth.

Or, indeed, for its politicians. "I don't want to reinforce for the American press here that Africa is just one big piece of land on the map," Obama, a Democrat, said in an apparent reference to widely reported claims that former US Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin believed Africa was a country, not a continent.

He was met by loud cheers from the crowd and laughter from his travelling press corps.

Questions raised

The questions he received were often tough, focussing on trade, the environment, women's rights and even a promise he made to travel to Kenya, his father's home, during his presidency.

"I'm going to be president for another three-and-a-half-years," he said when asked via a video link from Nairobi why he had not visited the country. "You learn as president that people not only want you to fulfil your promises but want you to fulfil your promises yesterday."

But Obama admitted that the International Criminal Court warrant out for that country's new president and vice president had influenced his decision.

"I did not think it was an optimal time for me to visit," he said but pledged he would still make a trip to Kenya before his time in office ends, which would be 2017.

For many in the crowd, however, the key concerns they had were jobs and economic opportunities. They wanted clear words from the president that he envisioned an economic partnership between the United States and Africa.

"Everywhere I go in Africa, people want to break out of the dependency trap," Obama said.

"What we need is an Africa that is building, manufacturing, creating value, inventing and then sending those products around the world and receiving products in return under fair terms of trade," the president said. "If we do that, there is no reason Africa cannot succeed."

Obama insisted the US was not interested in global domination, a concern often felt strongest in countries once subjected to colonial rule, which milked resources while oppressing their people.

"I was elected to end the wars," he said, adding that he regularly visits young US soldiers who have been gravely injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This idea that we want to get more involved militarily around the world is not true," he said.

Obama said the US would rather be "selling iPads and planes" rather than using its military abroad, drawing applause from the crowd, many of whom snapped photos of the president and his large entourage on their smartphones and tablets.

- Were you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts and photos.

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  barack obama  |  johannesburg  |  obama in africa

NPA files Dewani response

2014-11-21 22:18

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


3 sports games you have to watch this weekend

Whether it’s date night or a braai with buddies, plan around these three exciting sporting games!



How to maintain your mo, bro
Hottie of the day: Colette
Pro-skater Tony Hawk rides a hoverboard!
10 ways to drive her wild!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Human Resource Practitioner

Cape Winelands
ODwyer Personnel
R22 000 - R24 000 Per Month

PHP Developer

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R20 000 Per Month

IT Business Analyst

Cape Town CBD
Bathopele Talent Factory
R15 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


There is a strong desire to be unique, self sufficient, right and in control today. Your mind is fast today and you may have the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.