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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    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.

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.