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.
TEXT SIZE - +
— 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 Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid