Barack Obama delivers passionate defense of equality in Nelson Mandela Lecture

Barack Obama delivers passionate defense of equality in Nelson Mandela Lecture

Barack Obama delivers passionate defense of equality in Nelson Mandela Lecture

Mandela was quoted at the time, stating: "I have spent 67 years of my life fighting for the betterment of people". Human beings do not live on bread alone. Chosen from almost 10,000 applications, the participants come from 44 countries, said Bernadette Meehan, the Obama Foundation's executive director of global relations.

Obama called for progressive economic taxation, arguing that there was "only so much [the wealthy] can eat". "There must be something they're just afraid of".

"You have to believe in facts".

"Don't you get a sense sometimes that people are so intent on putting people down and propping themselves up, they are small hearted?" he asked.

In a wide-ranging talk Obama decried "reactionary" and "strongman" politics, while calling for wider respect for the rights of women and an independent media.

On the importance of democracy, Obama said: "Madiba could have governed for the rest of his life - who would have opposed him?"

He said this was because on the African continent impunity still thrived while some "corrupt" were treated as sacred cows.However he also warned that the jury was still out on whether South Africa could totally weed out corruption in its ranks.

In another notable passage, Obama appeared to endorse a universal basic income, saying, "It's not just money that a job provides".

Many South Africans view Obama as a successor to Mandela because of his groundbreaking role and his support for racial equality in the U.S. and around the world. Mandela was founding member of the ANC and an anti-apartheid activist who served 27 years in prison, spending many of these years on Robben Island.

Tuesday's lecture was preceded by a panel discussion that featured former President Sirleaf, Kofi Annan and the former Foreign Affairs Minister of Algeria, Lakhdar Brahimi at the Obama Foundation gathering of young African leaders. He continues to inspire the world through his example of courage and compassion. "Look around", he said, during the event marking the 100th anniversary of the anti-apartheid revolutionary's birth.

"Dictatorships began to give way to democracies. That's what I believe", Obama said.

"To add to the problem: "[Globalisation] has made it easier for capitalists to avoid tax laws.

"The world's most prosperous and successful societies, the ones with the highest living standards, the highest levels of satisfaction among their people, happen to be those which have most closely approximated the liberal progressive ideal that we talk about", Obama argued. The challenge, he said, was "the power of fear ... the lasting hold of greed, the desire to dominate others, in the minds of many - especially men".

"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".

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.

The first was when Obama took centre stage.

In honour of Mandela and the sacrifices he made, President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised to donate half of his salary to charity. Mandela died aged 95 on December 5 2013. After his release, Mandela went on to lead the ANC to victory in the first democratic elections in 1994.

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