News / Africa

    Obama Visits Former Mandela Prison Site

    U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama tour the jail where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island, near Cape Town, June 30, 2013.
    U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama tour the jail where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island, near Cape Town, June 30, 2013.
    U.S. President Barack Obama and his family have toured Robben Island, the former prison off Cape Town, South Africa where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for fighting to overturn apartheid. 

    Obama had visited Robben Island before as a U.S. senator but his return with his family on his three-nation Africa trip held special significance.

    He spoke about that in remarks at a news conference in Johannesburg on Saturday.

    "For me to be able to bring my daughters there and teach them the history of that place and this country, and help them to understand not only how those lessons apply to their own lives but also to their responsibilities in the future as citizens of the world, that’s a great privilege and a great honor," he said.

    As he did in 2006 on his last visit, Obama spent some moments in the small jail cell where Nelson Mandela was held. 

    Guided by a former prisoner, the president and his family walked into a bleak limestone quarry where 34 leaders of the African National Congress, including Mandela, labored for decades.

    In remarks overheard by media, he spoke to his daughters about the political non-violence movement pioneered by Mahatma Gandhi that took root in South Africa.

    Obama's next stop was a youth center at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation.  The foundation is named after and supported by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for AIDS prevention, tuberculosis screening and community health solutions.

    The main event of Obama's visit Sunday is his speech at the University of Cape Town, framing his administration's Africa policy and approach to U.S. assistance and security cooperation.

    White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said the theme will be potential for change, framed around the legacy of Nelson Mandela for South Africa and the continent.

    Obama is expected to refer to the “Ripple of Hope” speech at the university in 1966 by Robert F. Kennedy, after Mandela's imprisonment.  In that speech, Kennedy spoke about people standing up for ideals and acting against injustice and oppression.

    Obama will speak about three key themes of U.S. engagement with Africa - opportunity, democracy and peace and security.

    Key areas include food security, and his global health agenda, including a goal of achieving an AIDS-free generation.  Also, a new initiative called "Power Africa," aimed at doubling access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa

    Obama will speak about democratization in Africa and the importance of institution-building and civil society, and address challenges including the situation in Zimbabwe, and African-led solutions in places like Congo, Sudan and Somalia.

    Finally, Obama will announce plans to hold a summit of leaders from across sub-Saharan Africa in Washington as a symbol of his intention to continue high-level engagement with the continent.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: AB from: US
    June 30, 2013 9:48 AM
    I am aware that Mandela spent at least 27 years in jail. I'm not sure if all of it was on Robben Island but I had thought it was so. Please make sure that is not the case when you say "nearly 20 years". If that is the time he spent imprisoned at Robben Island I think it is worthy of the man's sacrifice to say at least "nearly 20 years of the total 27 years" or something along those lines in order to acknowledge the very long years that were taken from him.
    Thank you.
    AB
    In Response

    by: Sylvester Ogbolu-Otutu from: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
    July 01, 2013 8:18 AM
    I wish to request that VOA assist in providing us with the full text of President Obama's speech at the University of Cape Town which details the new US re-engagement policy towards Africa.

    Thanks.

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.