18 July 2018

South Africa: Barack Obama Shines a Light On Our 'Strange and Uncertain Times'


Queues can be great levellers. But yesterday's long line of people who snaked towards the security checks for the Annual Nelson Mandela lecture was also reminiscent of that moment of hope in 1994, when millions waited patiently in line to cast their first vote.

It took more than an hour and a half to get through the stringent security checks and into the Wanderers Stadium where former United States president Barack Obama was to deliver the Nelson Mandela annual lecture to mark the centenary of the birth of the first democratic president. More than 1,000 people descended on the stadium to listen to Obama. It was the biggest annual lecture the Nelson Mandela Foundation has yet hosted.

The long wait did not dim the good humour of the crowd, even when some politicians, or former politicians, walked to the front with an air of self-importance.

The message of the long afternoon was also reminiscent of that golden moment of hope and freedom in 1994, albeit with a harder eye on the future.

Yesterday was a moment that re-asserted...

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