News / Africa

Obama Visit to Soweto Seen as Bow to Struggle for Freedom

Obama Visit to Soweto Seen as Bow to Struggle for Freedomi
X
June 25, 2013 9:30 PM
During his tour of Africa, President Barack Obama plans to address students in the South African suburb of Soweto, the birthplace of the struggle against racial segregation, or apartheid. VOA's Mary Alice Salinas takes a look at Soweto’s history and the promise it holds today.
Mary Alice Salinas
During his tour of Africa, President Barack Obama plans to address students in the South African suburb of Soweto, the birthplace of the struggle against racial segregation, or apartheid.

The images from a 1976 student uprising in the township of Soweto remain searing to this day: apartheid police firing at, and beating back, black students rebelling against a deliberately racist educational system, imposed by the powerful apartheid government.

South African Ambassador to the U.S. Ebrahim Rasool said this is when Soweto rose to the global stage and gave birth to a long and difficult - but ultimately successful - struggle to end government-mandated racial segregation.

“In a way, it has come to embody the symbol of resistance, that you do not have to accept injustice and wrong," said Rasool.

It is much like the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1960’s.  

“Civil rights leaders said we must be free at home. But we also must defend the right of those abroad to be free as well, especially those in southern Africa,” said Johnnie Carson, former U.S. diplomat for foreign affairs.

Carson said a visit to Soweto by the first black U.S. president sends an especially powerful message to all those who struggled against racial discrimination.

“It is a tribute to all of those who lived there and who fought against apartheid, sacrificed their lives, sacrificed their community, sacrificed their development in order to change the system,” said Carson.

Soweto is no longer the collection of shantytowns it was when South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, took office in 1994.

It is now a center for tourism, culture, and a growing middle-class.

“There is this creativity, there is this dynamism, there is this growth that is taking place," said South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool.

Rasool acknowledged there still are many challenges, including poverty, unemployment and housing problems in Soweto. He noted there is a renewed hope, though, especially among young people who are pushing ahead with astounding speed.

“Soweto has almost moved directly from the drum to the cell phone without too many fixed lines in between. In much the same way it is going from counting on our fingers in Soweto to using the tablets and iPads and all of those kinds of modern technologies. No personal computers in between. I think that this is the energy that you must see,” he said.

Rasool said that Soweto today offers a window to a new Africa - and symbolizes not only resistance, but resilience.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid