Caribbean Fever - Your ONLY destination to all things Caribbean and more
In his first major high-profile speech since leaving office, President Barack Obama pulled no punches when discussing today’s grave political climate calling it “strange and uncertain,” during a speech to honor the 100th anniversary of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela’s birth, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
An estimated 14,000 people turned out in Johannesburg for the speech to hear Obama speak at Cricket stadium. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Mandela’s widow Graca Machel joined him for the annual Nelson Mandela Lecture.
These days “we see much of the world threatening to return to a more dangerous, more brutal, way of doing business,” he said.
While not mentioning Donald Trump directly, Obama took aim at him saying he uses “politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment,” likely referring to Trump’s many, angry Twitter rants.
“With each day’s news cycles bringing more head-spinning and disturbing headlines, I thought maybe it would be useful to step back for a moment and try to get some perspective.”
“Those in power seek to undermine every institution … that gives democracy meaning,” he said.
Obama continued saying “utter loss of shame among political leaders when they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and lie some more.” He said democracy is on the line with such lies.
Obama reminded the audience “we’ve been through darker times. We’ve been through lower valleys,” but he closed by offering a glimmer of hope when he shared “I say if people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”
Barack Obama’s moving lecture earned him a standing ovation.
“Just by standing on the stage honoring Nelson Mandela, Obama is delivering an eloquent rebuke to Trump,” said John Stremlau, professor of international relations at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg.
“Yesterday we had Trump and Putin standing together, now we are seeing the opposing team: Obama and Mandela.”