News / Africa

Obama Holds 'Town Hall,' Honors Mandela

Obama, African Youth Discuss Opportunity, Securityi
X
June 30, 2013 12:28 AM
Following a private meeting with relatives of ailing Nelson Mandela and talks with President Jacob Zuma, President Barack Obama engages young people from across Africa in a wide-ranging, televised question-and-answer session on opportunities and challenges on the continent. VOA senior White House correspondent Dan Robinson reports.
U.S. President Barack Obama engaged young people from South Africa and three other African nations for more than an hour Saturday, taking questions on issues ranging from economic growth and job opportunity in Africa to countering extremism in a town-hall style meeting that followed talks earlier in the day with President Jacob Zuma.
 
The condition of former South African leader Nelson Mandela was a key topic, and Obama praised the ailing anti-apartheid icon in emotional terms at both events on Saturday, saying Mandela's personal courage and South Africa's historic transition are a personal inspiration to him and to the world. The president will visit Robben Island in South Africa Sunday, the prison where Mandela spent nearly 20 years for fighting to overturn the country's apartheid regime.
 
The president appeared at ease and energized for his exchange with the young people in his audience at the University of Johannesburg in Soweto.
 
Africa is “on the move,” he said, but the continent faces great challenges “that can't be papered over." The president said Africa's young people will lead the way.
 
"Even as too many Africans still endure tremendous hardship and great injustice, there is, as the song says, a new Africa — more prosperous, more confident — taking its place on the world stage," he said. "And one of the reasons is because of your generation."


 
Paying tribute to heroes of the anti-apartheid movement including former president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Obama also recalled Hector Pieterson, a boy killed by police gunfire during a protest in 1976.
 
“During my first visit to South Africa, I was able to go to Hector Pieterson's memorial and pay tribute to an African boy who moved the world," Obama said, adding that he was "humbled by the sacrifices of all who have gone before us, so we can stand here as free men and women.
 
"I am honored to return to Soweto now as president of the United States of America."
 
What followed was a wide-ranging question and answer session with young people gathered from Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria on issues ranging from the need for accountable governments and jobs to climate change and threats from extremist groups.
 
One Nigerian woman asked: “Considering how long the war on terror has been on for, would you say that we are winning the war on terror, seeing as how there are new terrorist groups developing in Africa. One of which is in Africa?"
 
Obama said groups like Boko Haram are “doing great harm,” taking advantage of weak African governments, but that the United States is helping to build African governments' capacity to respond to extremism.
 
“We want the African Union and other regional organizations to build up the capacity to send in peacekeepers, to be able to nip terrorist cells that may be forming before they start and gain strength," he said.
 
Answering a question from Kenya, Obama said Africans are beginning to demand accountability from their governments.
 
"You are starting to see more and more a norm, a standard, take hold in Africa," he said. "And young people, I think, especially have high expectations about how government should function, and it should function for the public good, not for the benefit of just a few."
 
Zuma Talks

U.S. President Barack Obama and South African President Jacob Zuma address a press conference following their meeting at Union Building in Pretoria, South Africa, June 29, 2013.U.S. President Barack Obama and South African President Jacob Zuma address a press conference following their meeting at Union Building in Pretoria, South Africa, June 29, 2013.
x
U.S. President Barack Obama and South African President Jacob Zuma address a press conference following their meeting at Union Building in Pretoria, South Africa, June 29, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama and South African President Jacob Zuma address a press conference following their meeting at Union Building in Pretoria, South Africa, June 29, 2013.
Earlier in the day, President Obama and President Jacob Zuma discussed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the political situation in Zimbabwe and South Africa's progress in fighting HIV/AIDS.
 
Zuma urged further relaxation of U.S. sanctions against Zimbabwe, and Obama said elections there scheduled for next month must be credible.
 
Obama said the U.S. does not feel threatened by aggressive investment in Africa by China and other countries, but he urged Africans to carefully consider what they are getting from investment partners.
 
Obama also praised South Africa's role in the African Union and regional mediation efforts, and shared his vision for enhanced U.S. economic engagement and trade with Africa.
 
On the situation in Egypt, Obama said the U.S. is watching the situation there closely and ensuring its diplomats and facilities are protected. He called for restraint without violence.
 
Meets with Mandela Family

President Obama did not visit ailing former president Nelson Mandela in his hospital bed, instead meeting privately with Mandela's daughters and grandchildren. He also spoke by telephone with the 94-year-old leader's wife, Graca Machel.
 
The president, his wife and their daughters fly on Sunday to Cape Town, where he will deliver a major speech expected to frame his goals of increasing investment and empowering the youth of Africa to take hold of their future.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: T Bennett from: USA
June 29, 2013 7:01 PM
How nice.

Time for some town hall events by the president in the US, to explain what is giong on with the IRS, DOJ and Bengazi. Time for regular news conferences by our elected officals at all levels, including the executive.

by: JeffCharles
June 29, 2013 6:45 PM
Yes leave your country with the heads of each citizen spinning in unanswered confusion. When you come back choke them to death with the constitution. For now leave every issue of importance unsolved in your own country and spend tax dollars on something you always wanted for you and your family. Don't worry, the American citizens will pay for your vacation as they have both of your terms. What do you care anyway? You will never be president again and are making enough money now to ever value what is right. Money is more important than values anyway. In fact, let's replace values with money. Whoever doesn't have money is nothing. Everyone who has values is a sucker.

by: Amin from: Texas
June 29, 2013 6:39 PM
We used to all look up to Obama, now its jut Fleetwood Mac:
Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies
Oh, no, no you can't disguise
You can't disguise, no you can't disguise
Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies

by: Jane from: Wa
June 29, 2013 6:35 PM
As president Obama praises the freedom fighters of Africa, does he realize that Fidel Castro was a great supporter of them, with training, nurses and doctors and fighters. I just learned of this recently and the high regard many Africans, including Nelson Mandela, had for Castro.

by: tom frisby from: greenville, sc
June 29, 2013 6:20 PM
I am an independent Causasian who is very proud of our President and Michelle (I think one of the greatest first ladies ever). And I am pleased with his trip to Africa and the remarks made there. But, and this is totally in the left field, I wonder if President Obama would ever decide to live in an African country, along side the black community instead of in a white community. I see so many blacks who do not go back, who leave their culture. I do not see this among the Latinos or Asians so much. I wonder what your thoughts might be and if one of our journalist might explore this with either the President or Michelle. What school would he put his daughters in?

by: docdakota
June 29, 2013 6:07 PM
A town hall meeting. What a great idea. Why not try a series of them in the homeland??

by: geoff harris from: oakland ca
June 29, 2013 5:48 PM
Obama wouldve labeled Mandela a terrorist, a threat to the nations security. lets not be mystified by this nonsense, silly spectacle.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs