Former US President Barack Obama delivered the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, in partnership with the Motsepe Foundation, in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 17 July.
To honour the centennial of Madiba’s birth, the lecture’s theme was “Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World”. It focused on creating conditions for bridging divides, working across ideological lines, and resisting oppression and inequality.

Welcoming assembled guests to the lecture, Nelson Mandela Foundation chief executive Sello Hatang said, “It’s a very exciting moment for us.”

The 15,000-strong crowd was addressed by programme director Busi Mkhumbuzi, foundation chairperson Professor Njabulo Ndebele, Motsepe Foundation founder and CEO Dr Patrice Motsepe, activist and Madiba’s widow Graça Machel, and President Cyril Ramaphosa before Obama spoke.

Ndebele said the world had welcomed Obama’s election to the US presidency in 2008 and that he had inspired universal belief in human unity.

Motsepe, addressing the crowd, said, “The presence of each and every one here is living proof that the legacy and spirit of Nelson Mandela is alive.”

Machel said Madiba’s centenary was an opportunity to celebrate him “in all his incredible uniqueness”, and also to celebrate him as a representative of a broader collective leadership that had led South Africa and South Africans to freedom. She called on young people to take inspiration from Mandela’s life so that they create a world in which all live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

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