News / Africa

    Obama Encounters Protests, Praise on South Africa Visit

    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks and takes questions at a town hall meeting with young African leaders at the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus, South Africa, June 29, 2013.U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks and takes questions at a town hall meeting with young African leaders at the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus, South Africa, June 29, 2013.
    x
    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks and takes questions at a town hall meeting with young African leaders at the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus, South Africa, June 29, 2013.
    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks and takes questions at a town hall meeting with young African leaders at the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus, South Africa, June 29, 2013.
    Anita Powell
    U.S. President Barack Obama launched a historic visit to South Africa on Saturday, his first visit here as president.  He has been welcomed by officials, but not all South Africans are happy about his presence.  On Saturday, a group of protesters gathered outside the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus, where the president was speaking to young South Africans.  Protesters said they oppose Obama’s foreign policy and criticized his performance on human rights issues.  
     
    South African President Jacob Zuma said he was “honored” to host U.S. President Barack Obama on his first visit to the country as president.  Obama has a full schedule in South Africa during his weekend visit: several bilateral talks, a state dinner, and a visit to Robben Island where Mandela spent decades in prison.
     
    Obama is focusing on Africa’s youth during a speech to students at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus Saturday afternoon.  Ahead of the speech, VOA spoke to dozens of students, most of whom who said they were excited and enthusiastic about the president’s visit and praised his tenure as president.
     
    Many, like 19-year-old student Anathi Manciya, offered high praise for the U.S. president.
     
    “I think he’s a great leader.  I compare him to guys like Nelson Mandela.  Yeah.  I really like the dude," said Manciya. "Humble, kind, yeah, I like the dude.”

    Watch the town hall meeting at the University of Johannesburg - Soweto.
     
    Protesters run away after police fired two warning shots to clear the street from a demonstration against the visit of United States President Barack Obama to the university building in Soweto, South Africa, June 29, 2013.Protesters run away after police fired two warning shots to clear the street from a demonstration against the visit of United States President Barack Obama to the university building in Soweto, South Africa, June 29, 2013.
    x
    Protesters run away after police fired two warning shots to clear the street from a demonstration against the visit of United States President Barack Obama to the university building in Soweto, South Africa, June 29, 2013.
    Protesters run away after police fired two warning shots to clear the street from a demonstration against the visit of United States President Barack Obama to the university building in Soweto, South Africa, June 29, 2013.
    But not all South Africans have been so welcoming.  On Saturday morning, dozens of protesters gathered on the busy Soweto road in front of the campus. They held aloft signs that read “Stop World War III - Remove Obama” and “Obama Killed Gadhafi -- Who’s Next?”
     
    The protesters -- who came from a prominent union coalition, a Muslim advocacy group and South Africa’s Communist Party -- offered several reasons for their opposition.
     
    Claire Ceruti, a former UJ staff member who is now a student there, is a self-identified socialist.  She says she opposes the university’s decision to confer an honorary doctorate on the American president.  
     
    “We’re calling it a dishonorary doctorate because we feel it will dishonor all of us to be just handing out these things to a head of state who, for us, doesn’t have a very good record," Ceruti said.  
     
    One of Obama’s goals on this trip was to speak to the youth of Africa.  But 19-year-old UJ student Nomagugu Hloma was having none of it.  
     
    “I do not want to hear anything from Barack Obama.  I am not interested in anything he is going to say to me.  I do not view him as a credible leader, he is not," Hloma said. "He killed Gadhafi, and the government of Gadhafi in Libya was a good government.  We don’t regard him as a leader.  If we want leadership, we will speak to our own leaders.”
     
    Phutas Tseki, the regional chair of powerful trade coalition COSATU, says he belongs to the South African Communist Party.  He disagrees with Obama’s foreign policy decisions and says the American president has broken promises.  

    “When the president, President Obama, was ushered (in) to the world, he promised that he’s going to make sure that he settled the dispute between Palestine and Israel people," Tseki said. "But the United States has continued to support, financially, it has continued to support Israel through arms to attack and displace people of Palestine from their land.  There was a  promise that Guantanamo Bay is going to be closed, even today, people are still standing there for many years without trial.”  
     
    Since his election in 2008, most South Africans have expressed support for the American president, with some conferring upon him the highest possible praise by comparing him to South African icon Nelson Mandela.

    Many say they see something of their beloved leader in Obama.  Both were the first black president of their country, and both were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora