Pretoria. Former US President Barack Obama is set to deliver a high-profile address on July 17, marking the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth.
The speech will be paired with a five-day gathering of young African leaders that will include workshops and training, as well as a town hall with Obama. The Obama Foundation said it had received 10,000 applications for the 200 available slots in the programme.
Mr Obama, whose father was from Kenya, visited Africa several times as President, though he never met Mandela on those trips as the anti-apartheid leader was ailing. They had met once earlier, in 2005, when Mandela was visiting the United States.
Obama has spoken and written extensively on Mandela’s influence in his life, including inspiring his early political activism. Obama flew to South Africa in 2013 to speak at Mandela’s funeral.
It makes for a continuation of efforts Obama began while in office to cultivate young leaders through leadership training programmes and town halls.
During his last trip to Africa as President, Obama convened a meeting with young people in Nairobi to discuss social issues and leadership strategies. He held similar events in South America and Asia.
To honour the centennial of Madiba’s birth, the lecture’s theme will be ‘Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World’.
“The Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture will focus on creating conditions for bridging divides, working across ideological lines, and resisting oppression and inequality,” noted the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
The lecture will take place on Tuesday next week, a day before Nelson Mandela International Day, and will be held at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. About 9,000 people are expected to attend.
For most of his life, Nelson Mandela fought for democracy and equality. His presidency was defined by his efforts to solidify the fragile democracy of South Africa, and by his lessons on the politics of bridge-building over the politics of division.
The Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture is a unique platform to drive debate on critical social issues in South Africa and around the world.
Meanwhile, Beyonce and Jay-Z will lead an A-list lineup to mark 100 years since Nelson Mandela’s birth in a Johannesburg festival by the Global Citizen movement to eradicate poverty.
The December 2 event will draw a number of leaders in an attempt to throw a spotlight on fledging efforts to eradicate poverty.