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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora