South Africa on Wednesday marked 100 years since Nelson Mandela’s birth with a “town hall” forum hosted by Barack Obama and a walk led by the anti-apartheid leader’s widow among a series of tributes.
His birthday on July 18 is marked annually around the world as “Mandela Day”, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation called for people to “take action and inspire change” in his name on the centenary year
Obama, speaking to 15,000 people at a stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday, gave an emotional address recalling the “wave of hope that washed through hearts all around the world” when Mandela was released from jail in 1990
Mandela, who died in 2013, remains a global icon for his long fight against white-minority rule and for his message of peace and reconciliation when he was released after 27 years in prison.
Delivering the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture on Tuesday, Obama warned that the world had plunged into “strange and uncertain times”, in a speech containing a series of apparent veiled attacks on US President Donald Trump.
Obama made no direct reference to his successor but warned that “politics of fear and resentment” were spreading, driven by leaders who scorned facts and told lies with an “utter loss of shame”.
Mandela was imprisoned under apartheid rule in 1962 and only freed in 1990, when he went on to lead the African National Congress party to victory in the first multi-race elections in 1994.
He served one term as president before stepping down in 1999.