News / USA

Obama, Halfway Around the World, Has Message for Washington

President Barack Obama speaks at the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
President Barack Obama speaks at the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
President Barack Obama traveled halfway around the world on Tuesday to deliver a message he hoped would be heard by his political opponents back home, and some U.S. rivals abroad.
Obama's speech at a rain-soaked soccer stadium in Johannesburg was perhaps the most electrifying moment of a day of remembrances about the life of Nelson Mandela, who died last Thursday at age 95.
Throughout his speech, Obama sprinkled references to his determination to work to reduce income inequality in the United States.
His appeal to people who embrace Mandela's life mission to actually live by it may have been directed toward his Republican opponents, who have sought to stymie his agenda on many fronts.
“There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba's legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality,” Obama said, using Mandela's clan name.
Obama's brief trip to South Africa offered a respite from partisan battles in Washington over spending and, more recently, the botched rollout of his signature healthcare plan.
The troubles have weighed heavily on his presidency and contributed to a decline in his popularity among Americans, who now give him a 38 percent job approval rating, among the lowest of his five years in office.
While the U.S. economy is showing some signs of strength, the improvements are not trickling through to the middle class.
Obama wants the U.S. Congress to improve the plight of middle-class Americans by approving a higher minimum wage, more spending on education for children and an overhaul of immigration laws as ways to boost the American economy.
His appeals, however, are not gaining much traction among Republicans, who see his proposals as another way to increase the tax burden on Americans.
Obama also preached a broader message at the Mandela memorial.
Delivered before both Cuban President Raul Castro and Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, his remarks could easily be construed as being directed at their governments and others with whom the United States has differences over human rights.
“Around the world today, men and women are still in prison for their political beliefs and are still persecuted for what they look like and how they worship and who they love. That is happening today,” he said.
“There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba's struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people.”
Promoting freedom and human rights and ending wars are difficult, he argued, but “South Africa shows us we can choose.”
“We can choose a world defined not by conflict, but by peace and justice and opportunity,” Obama said.

Watch the entire speech:

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 10, 2013 9:37 PM
Despite I can understand less than half of his address due to my listenning capacity, it sounds like for me encouraging himself to determine again and to be able to carry out his policies as VOA implys. Equal opportunity, freedom, generousity, helping each other, no unilateral domination, seaking ideals. Good luck Obama !

by: Whistleblower from: District of Criminals
December 10, 2013 5:27 PM
Obama and his predecessor have flown on your dime to South Africa to attend the funeral of the former communist Nelson Mandela.

“President Barack Obama brought former President George W. Bush with him to Africa on Monday to attend a memorial for Nelson Mandela in a high-profile show of American respect for the man who vanquished white-minority rule in South Africa,” Reuters reports.

All part of the globalist club: Obama shakes hands with Raul Castro during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.

Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter went along for the ride, but on separate flights.

“Obama kept his usual quarters in the front of the plane, while the medical unit cabin was transformed into the Bushes’ quarters for the flight. Clinton stayed in the senior staff cabin.”

Henri Le Riche estimates “Obama’s expected 10-minute speech at Nelson Mandela’s memorial will cost taxpayers at least $500,000 per minute.”

That’s not counting any cakes and coffee he and his inner circle consume aboard Air Force One during the 18,000-mile round trip to Johannesburg, via Dakar, in Senegal.

The 28-hour two-way flight will cost $5 million because the four-engined Boeing 747 costs roughly $180,000 an hour to operate, according to a May 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service.

The cost includes jet fuel and subsequent maintenance of the aircraft’s engines, electronics and hotel-class facilities.

Obama has been accompanied by the First Lady, Attorney General Eric Holder, national security advisor Susan Rice and confidante Valerie Jarrett.

In addition to Obama and his entourage aboard Air Force One, the government sent along the presidential security detail – armed guards, bullet-proof limos, and other equipment – on a far less luxurious C-17 cargo lifters based out of Andrews Air Force base. Cost: $23,811 per hour.

Obama’s trip is not merely ceremonial. The high profile event serves as a spectacular propaganda piece to highlight multiculturalism, the latest political control tool exploited by the establishment.

Incidentally, the ideological heirs to Mandela’s communism do not support Obama’s presence in South Africa.

A statement issued by the National Unions of Metalworkers of South Africa, the South African Communist Party, the Young Communist League of South Africa, the South African Students’ Congress, the Muslim Students’ Association, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the Friends of Cuba Society, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa, and the World Federation of Trade Unions condemn the U.S. Public relations stunt.

“Our rejection is based the US’s arrogant, selfish and oppressive foreign policies, treatment of workers and international trade relations that are rooted in war-mongering, neo-liberal super-exploitation, colonial racism and the disregard and destruction of the environment, thus making the realization of a just and peaceful world impossible,” the statement declares.

The rejection is interesting considering the United States was instrumental in the effort to dismantle apartheid. The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, enacted by Congress, imposed sanctions that ultimately led to the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners and the end of apartheid.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs