Barack Obama: Beware strongmen who cannot stop lying

Yolanda Curtis
July 19, 2018

His lecture, titled "Renewing the Mandela legacy and promoting active citizenship in a changing world", tracked the transformation of the world, particularly in terms of race relations and human rights, over the past 100 years.

Nelson Mandela International Day is a global event held annually to honor Mandela.

Many South Africans view Obama as a successor to Mandela because of his groundbreaking role and his support for racial equality in the United States and around the world.

"He led us from the wilderness of conflict and oppression into the land of promise, of freedom, democracy, and equality", Ramaphosa said.

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These days "we see much of the world threatening to return to a more unsafe, more brutal, way of doing business", Obama said, adding that politicians pushing the "politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment" are on the move "at a pace unimaginable just a few years ago". "The previous structures of injustice and exploitation never really went away", he said.

Obama met Mandela only briefly in 2005 but gave a eulogy at his funeral saying Mandela "makes me want to be a better man" and hailing him as "the last great liberator of the 20th century". He also said, to applause, that the US invasion of Iraq "didn't help, accelerating a sectarian conflict".

Populist movements are being "cynically funded by right-wing billionaires" who use it as a tactic to remove governmental constraints on their business interests, he said.

Obama warned that advances made since Mandela was in office were being eroded, with far-right parties emerging in the West that advocate protectionism, closed borders and barely hidden racial nationalism. Many developing countries are seeking to emulate China's model of "authoritarian control combined with mercantilist capitalism as preferable to the messiness of democracy". The law states that social media users with more than 5000 followers will be under the supervision of Egypt's Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media.

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"But we need to resist that cynicism", Obama said in a speech in Johannesburg to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela.

There was no choice but "to move forward", he said. "Because history also shows the power of fear". But he added that it is "right for the insist on reciprocity" when it comes to countries that are no longer poor, like China, suggesting the US should tell China to "stop taking intellectual property and stop hacking our servers".

Obama, drawing on Mandela's own remarks, counseled against discrimination of any kind. You can't do it if you insist that those who aren't like you because they're white or because they're male, that somehow, there's no way they could understand what I'm feeling. "That there's something they're just afraid of?"

The speech on Tuesday, one of Obama's most high-profile since leaving office, is meant to draw attention to values that today are under threat and to rally people in Africa and elsewhere to push for tolerance and justice. "Once you reach a tipping point, not only will you stop the brain drain, then it will start reversing". "We have to believe in an objective reality. Without facts, there's no basis for cooperation", Obama said. "If I say this is a podium and you say this is an elephant, it's going to be hard for us to cooperate", he said.

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Politicians have always lied, but it used to be that if you caught them lying, they'd be like, 'Oh, man.' Now they just keep on lying!

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