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 New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Fake, Substandard Medicines Pose Global Challenge

So-called 'fake drugs' include expired medicines, those with manufacturing defects, and bogus tablets More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs