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

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: US Army Turns Its Best Minds Toward Ebola

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Dissident Venezuelan General Resurfaces in New York

Antonio Rivero has resurfaced after nearly a year in hiding, appearing at United Nations in New York 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.
Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Goghi
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid