Obama awaited with baited breath

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Bidvest Wanderers Stadium is abuzz with the young and old, who are eagerly awaiting the delivery of the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture by former US President Barack Obama.

The lecture, which is an initiative of the Nelson Mandela Foundation invites prominent people to drive debate on significant social issues.

It encourages people to enter into dialogue often about difficult subjects in order to address the challenges faced in society today. 

Senator Michael Bowen Mitchell, who was a member of the Baltimore Maryland City Council that enacted legislation in 1986 mandating divestment of the city’s pension funds from the apartheid South African government, is present at today’s lecture.

“I think some of the themes which [Obama] touched on during President Mandela’s memorial, on how the trials and tribulations experienced by Mandela inspired him, will come up,” said Mitchell, giving an outline of what he expects from Obama’s speech.

Pupils from Meyerton Secondary School, who received a private invitation to attend the lecture, said they looked forward to an empowering speech by Obama.

“I feel his speech will empower our country and hearing some motivation from him will really do a lot for us,” said Siphesihle Ntombela, a Grade 11 pupil from Meyerton Secondary.

Looking to Mandela Day on Wednesday, 18 July, which would have been Madiba’s centennial birthday had he lived, Siphesihle’s fellow school mate, Tebello Tlou, said their school will spread Madiba magic tomorrow.

“We are collecting money from the learners at our school and we will donate that money to a charity,” he said.

This year, Obama will deliver the lecture to an estimated 14 500 people that are expected to attend the much awaited event. The lecture is also expected to be broadcast live on the national broadcaster, via livestream on Facebook and on the foundation’s YouTube channel.

Previous speakers of the lecture include Nobel laureate Prof Wangari Maathai, former President Thabo Mbeki, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Bill Gates.

Dignitaries such as President Cyril Ramaphosa, Mandela’s widow Graca Machel, King Mswati III and government ministers have already began to file into the venue. - SAnews.gov.za