Obama on his way to South Africa

2013-12-09 17:15
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama board Air Force One to travel to South Africa for a memorial service in honour of Nelson Mandela. (Evan Vucci, AP)

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama board Air Force One to travel to South Africa for a memorial service in honour of Nelson Mandela. (Evan Vucci, AP)

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

Washington - President Barack Obama has taken off for South Africa to attend a national memorial service for  Nelson Mandela.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, boarded Air Force One under cold, rainy skies on Monday morning for the long flight. The occasion presented an opportunity for a rare get-together of American presidents. Former president George  Bush was already on board the plane, along with former first ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton.

Former President Bill Clinton was travelling separately from Rio de Janeiro, where he was attending a Clinton Global Initiative event. And former president Jimmy Carter also planned to join the group in Johannesburg.

George HW Bush is the only living former president who will not attend. His spokesperson said the 89-year-old no longer is able to travel long distances.

The American leaders will join dozens of other dignitaries and tens of thousands of mourners at the memorial service at a Johannesburg stadium. Mandela will be buried on 15 December, following a state funeral in his home town of Qunu.

Obama has called Mandela a personal hero, and his own political rise has drawn inevitable comparisons to the former South African leader. Each was his nation's first black president and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize - though those close to the US leader say he is aware of the vast differences in the politicians' experiences.

"President Obama would believe that the challenges he has faced pale in comparison to those faced by President Mandela," Valerie Jarrett, Obama's senior adviser, said in an interview this summer before the president made a trip to South Africa.

Mandela was hospitalised during Obama's visit, preventing a meeting between the two men. Obama did, however, meet with several members of Mandela's family and made an emotional visit to Robben Island, standing with his wife and two daughters in the tiny cell where the South African leader spent 18 of his 27 years in prison.

Obama and Mandela met in person only once, a hastily arranged 2005 meeting in a Washington hotel room when Obama was a US senator. A photo of the meeting hangs in Obama's personal office at the White House, showing a smiling Mandela sitting on a chair, his legs outstretched, as the young senator reaches down to shake his hand. A copy of the photo also hangs in Mandela's office in Johannesburg.

Mandela shaped Obama

The two men did speak occasionally by telephone, including after the 2008 election, when Mandela called Obama to congratulate him on his victory. The US president called Mandela in 2010 after the South African leader's young granddaughter was killed in a car accident.

Obama also wrote the introduction to Mandela's memoir, Conversations with Myself.

Mandela had already shaped Obama's political beliefs well before their first encounter. As a student at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Obama joined protests against the school's investments during South Africa's apartheid era. In 1981, Obama focused his first public political speech on the topic.

"The day that he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they're guided by their hopes and not by their fears," Obama said in remarks shortly after Mandela died.

"And like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him."

- Send us your memories and photos of Nelson Mandela.

- Friends, colleagues, comrades and family of Nelson Mandela are invited to share their memories and tributes, and to light a candle for him, on his profile at Remembered.co.za.

- AP

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  barack obama  |  bill clinton  |  us
NEXT ON NEWS24X

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
34 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Who won? Let the News24 App notify you!

Not only can you stay up to date with the latest elections news, you can also get notification of results during the results phase with our easy-to-use app.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Cape Town - 15:29 PM
    Road name: Roeland Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working correctly at Plein Street
  • Thursday Parow - 15:28 PM
    Road name: Frans Conradie Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Fairfield Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid 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

Apple iPad 2 White 16GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Two cameras for FaceTime and HD video recording. The dual-core...

From R5727.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be required to travel or get information for your job. This may be restricting in some way or something may slow things...read more

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

Hello 

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.

Settings

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.