Stop Pretending That Merely Holding Elections Is Democracy: Barack Obama

Barack Obama

"You have to believe in facts", Obama said.

Obama's speech followed remarks by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and Mandela's widow, Graça Machel, formerly a freedom fighter and minister in Mozambique's government.

U.S. President Donald Trump, grappling with a torrent of criticism over his performance at a Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said on Tuesday he misspoke at their joint news conference and meant to say he saw no reason why it was not Russia that interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

Former U.S. president Barack Obama advised talented young Africans on Wednesday to drive change at home rather than emigrating, and urged their governments to do more to curb a brain drain.

The trip is Obama's first to Africa since leaving office in early 2017.

An estimated 14,000 people turned out in Johannesburg for the speech to hear Obama speak at Cricket stadium.

There are probably more than a few on the left, however, who wish Mr Obama would give more than a few speeches and carefully worded statements.

"It should make us hopeful‚ but if we can't deny the real strides our world has made since that moment when Madiba took steps out of confinement‚ we have to recognise ways in which the worldwide order has fallen short of its promises".

He also brought up leaders who "completely make stuff up" in an apparent dig at Trump, adding that the undermining of facts could lead to democracy's "undoing". Obama said he found it amusing that some political leaders seemed to reject the concept of objective truth. "I wish I had big pockets‚ because I love each and every one of you‚ and I'd like to fit you in my pocket and return with you to South Africa".

Barack Obama
Obama to make rare high-profile speech on Mandela's legacy

"We see the utter loss of shame in political leaders when they're caught in a lie and they just double down and lie some more", Obama said.

Mr. Obama said there are "two different stories, two different narratives" that are battling for the "hearts and minds" of the world.

But it was clear his lecture to mark the 100th birthday of former South African president Nelson Mandela was aimed at encouraging the world to adopt the philosophies of the late anti-apartheid leader and not some of the "strongmen" heads of state.

Before Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang could finish introducing Obama the 15,000 people attending the event stood up cheering and clapping.

It was an implicit rebuke of President Trump's "America First" policies, delivered at a moment when Trump was scolding North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies for what he saw as inadequate defense spending - something Trump did again last week.

"We see our brothers and sisters trying to seek a better life in the states, and we know that America was built on the backs of black people and they don't get the recognition".

Mr Trump has said he thinks climate change is not happening.

Mandela, who was released from prison in 1990 and became president four years later, died in 2013 at the age of 95.

When Obama was a USA senator, he had his picture taken with Mandela. A former lawyer, Mandela was voted into power after the country's first free and fair democratic elections that witnessed the end of the apartheid system in 1994.

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