Obama the perfect choice to deliver Mandela lecture
Former US president Barack Obama is the perfect choice to renew the Nelson Mandela legacy and promote active citizenry‚ the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) says.
The foundation’s Luzuko Koti said Obama‚ with his global reach‚ was the ideal speaker to raise uncomfortable questions‚ provoke dialogue and draw attention to values that today were under threat.
“One of the things we are dealing with is captured democracies that don't work for the poor‚ that don't work for people in countries that are underdeveloped‚ where people are made to be rubber stampers of decisions that are made elsewhere. We wanted someone who is going to interrogate that‚” he explained.
The address will be one of Obama's most high-profile speeches since leaving office. He is also expected to stimulate reflection.
Obama’s foreign policy has been heavily criticised while locally‚ Mandela’s legacy has been questioned over “settling” for political power while "failing” to shift economic power to the people.
“Obama is not a perfect leader‚ he doesn't have a perfect legacy‚ in fact his own legacy is as contested as that of Madiba. People question what he did‚ the decisions he took‚ and we are a platform that gives people the opportunity to interrogate these legacies‚ not people who are going to gloss over issues. That is why we wanted him to come here‚” Koti said.
However‚ Koti said it was important for the foundation to bring a person who was not only inspired by Madiba’s legacy personally but who had also modelled their own leadership after Madiba.
“Like Madiba‚ he is inspired by the issue of future leaders‚ emerging leadership‚ young people‚” he added.
Hence‚ during his visit‚ Obama will launch his foundation's leadership programme‚ which is made up of 200 young Africans chosen from nearly 10‚000 applications from 44 countries across the continent.
Previous speakers include former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan‚ former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf‚ former South African president Thabo Mbeki‚ Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Irish president and philanthropist Mary Robinson.
The lecture will take place at Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg and is expected to be attended by 15‚000 people.