News / Africa

Soweto Students Look Forward to Obama Visit

President Obama in White House video Jun 22, 2013
President Obama in White House video Jun 22, 2013
Anita Powell
The University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus is expected to be one of the stops for U.S. President Barack Obama when he visits South Africa.  This campus, which caters to the black community of Soweto, is part of one of South Africa’s largest and most diverse universities. 

The signs on the UJ Soweto campus show a welcome message in four languages, a symbol of how this university has evolved along with post-apartheid South Africa.

It’s the same message that many UJ Soweto students say they want to relay to the U.S. president during his visit to the country.

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
VOA spoke to dozens of students on this campus in the sprawling black community.  Many students say they hoped the president would speak about the problems of youth.  South Africa’s unemployment rate, for example, is more than 26 percent.

Many, like student Anathi Manciya, 19, offered high praise for the U.S. president.

“I think he’s a great leader.  I compare him to guys like Nelson Mandela.  Yeah.  I really like the dude," admitted Manciya. "Humble, kind - yeah, I like the dude.”

Some, like human resources major Yanelisa Mlondleni, 22, were less restrained.

“I think Barack Obama - I love him, I can say.  As he is the first black American to be a president," Mlondleni said. "He influences us.  He inspires us, giving us motivations and stuff.  And he made history by repeating his position again.  I love him so much, that’s all I can say.”

But not all the students were so effusive.  A small group of politics students said they were largely disappointed in Obama’s performance.

Political science major Kwanda Nkwanyana said he didn’t think Obama had kept his promises on issues such as the proposed closure of the U.S.-run detainee center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and that he had not intervened enough to stop the conflict in Syria.

He said he had very few expectations for Obama's first visit to South Africa as U.S. president.

“Nothing.  This is the first time he’s come to visit.  And when did he get elected into presidency?  It was like 2008.  And this is the first time," scoffed Nkwanyana. "And now everyone is just going to praise him because he’s done something big, but he hasn’t.  See, the thing is people fail to realize that just because you’re black, it doesn’t mean you’re gonna have Africa’s interests, like, embedded in your heart or something.  He’s American, he’s not black.  There’s no such thing as a black country where people just give you stuff because you’re black.  We have to have something for America, and if we don’t, then obviously they’re not going to have anything for us.”

And still others said they were not politically minded.  But three members of the UJ Soweto choir asked if they could send their own, apolitical, message to the president.  South Africa’s multilingual national anthem bears a simple message: God Bless Africa.

Obama is expected to speak on this campus.  It’s a fitting choice: The university, one of the nation’s largest, is today a reflection of modern South Africa, with a primarily black student body.

The main curriculum is taught in English but university events, like graduations, are often hosted in English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Sesotho -- often with the academic speaker transitioning seamlessly from one language to another in the same, continuous speech.

Students said they don’t expect those linguistic gymnastics from the American president. But they hope he will bring something that translates into every language: hope.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mark
June 25, 2013 7:49 AM
They are looking forward to his visit, Obama and family should move to Johannesburg so America can be Free once again. Oh that's right VOA is for everything Obama does


by: Tim from: Johannesburg
June 25, 2013 2:33 AM
he is welcomed if he won`t accept offers of payment of all his,his wife,aides and entourage costs like his predecessor did when he toured south africa and payed all his costs from American taxes because he saw this as nothing but theft of taxpayers money that should have gone into education.

that he`ll address parliament to deliver this message:National security must reflect the resolve of South Africans,as individuals and as a nation,to live as equals,to live in peace and harmony,to be free from fear and want and to seek a better life.The resolve to live in peace and harmony precludes any south African citizen from participating in armed conflict,nationally or internationally,except as provided for in terms of the Constitution or national Legislation.National security must be pursued in compliance with the law,including international law.National security is subject to the authority of parliament and the national executive.

The Defence Force is the only lawful military force in the Republic.Armed organisations or services may be established only in terms of national legislation.The security service s must be structured and regulated by national legislation The security services must act,and must teach and require their members to act ,in accordance with the constitution and the la,no member of any security service may obey a manifestly illegal order.neither the security service,nor any of their members,may in the performance of their functions prejudice a political party interest that is legitimate in terms of the constitution ;or further,in a partisan manner,any interest of a political party!To give effect to the principles of transparency and accountability,multi-party parliamentary committees must have oversight of all security ,services in a manner determined by national legislation or the rules and orders of parliament! sw

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid