President Obama Visits South Africa

Posted by Stephen Wood
July 1, 2013
President Obama Delivers Remarks in South Africa

The First Family traveled to South Africa on June 29 and June 30. The visit began in Pretoria, where President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were welcomed by South African President Jacob Zuma and his wife, Thobeka Madiba. 

In a joint press conference with President Zuma, President Obama began by saying, “…Our thoughts -- and those of Americans and people all around the world -- are with Nelson Mandela and his family, and all South Africans. …The outpouring of love that we’ve seen in recent days shows that the triumph of Nelson Mandela and this nation speaks to something very deep in the human spirit -- the yearning for justice and dignity that transcends boundaries of race and class and faith and country.  That’s what Nelson Mandela represents.  That’s what South Africa, at its best, can represent to the world.”

President Obama then underscored that the United States views South Africa as a critical partner, a country at the forefront of trends on the continent.  Young people play an important role in shaping those trends, as nearly one in three Africans are between the ages of 10 and 24, and approximately 60 percent of Africa’s total population is below the age of 35.

After meeting with President Zuma, President Obama held a town hall at the University of Johannesburg – Soweto Campus, where he spoke with 600 young leaders, ages 18-35. More young people from Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda joined via satellite.  During the town hall, President Obama discussed the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).  President Obama launched YALI in 2010 to invest in the next generation of African leaders.  As part of that commitment, President Obama announced the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, a program which will bring young African leaders to the United States each year, beginning in 2014, for leadership training and mentoring.

While the President held a town hall, the First Lady held a Google+ Hangout  to discuss the importance of education with students from across South Africa and the United States.

The next day, the First Family toured the prison at Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela, Kgalema Motlanthe, and Jacob Zuma were imprisoned for fighting Apartheid before they went on to become Presidents of South Africa. The First Family saw the quarry where inmates were forced to work, the prison yard, and Mandela’s bare, six-foot-wide cell. First Lady Michelle Obama described the visit as “an experience we will never forget” and encouraged us to read more about President Mandela’s life and seek to live up to his example in our own lives.

The First Family concluded their visit to South Africa in Cape Town, where President Obama held a roundtable with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and delivered remarks at the University of Cape Town.   Today, the President travels to Tanzania.  You can follow his trip on

About the Author: Stephen Wood serves as an editorial assistant for DipNote.



Eric J.
New Mexico, USA
July 1, 2013

(Excerpt from July 01, 2013 press conference in Tanzania )


" ...Mr. President, these scenes in Egypt suggest that Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government have lost the support of the Egyptian people. When we saw similar protesting against Mubarak, you called on Mubarak to step down. By all accounts, these protests are even bigger. So my question is, is it time for Morsi to go?..."

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Obviously, we’re all concerned about what’s happening in Egypt, and we’ve been monitoring it very closely. Our commitment to Egypt has never been around any particular individual or party. Our commitment has been to a process. And when I took a position that it was time for Egypt to transition, it was based on the fact that Egypt had not had a democratic government for decades, if ever. And that’s what the people were calling for.

They went through an election process that, by all accounts, were legitimate. And Mr. Morsi was elected. And the U.S. government’s attitude has been we would deal with a democratically elected government. What we’ve also said is that democracy is not just about elections, it’s also about how are you working with an opposition; how do you treat dissenting voices; how do you treat minority groups. And what is clear right now is that although Mr. Morsi was elected democratically, there’s more work to be done to create the conditions in which everybody feels that their voices are heard, and that the government is responsive and truly representative.

And so what we’ve encouraged the government to do is to reach out to the opposition and work through these issues in a political process. It’s not the U.S.’s job to determine what that process is. But what we have said is, go through processes that are legitimate and observe rule of law."

--end excerpt--

What was it John Stewart said to Egyptians the other night being interviewed by their leading comic?

" If your regime can't take a joke, you don't have a regime."

I suppose Assad would be a shining example.

Pardon me if I parce reality for a moment, but it seems to me that our ambassadors better have a darn good sense of humor, after all, we be the shining example of "the great experiment". God knows where we're going, but we sure know where we've been; once upon a time Congress was run out of town for not paying the folks that fought to ensure we could conduct our "experiment" in freedom, and vets still face the ravages of beaurocracy today while Congress plays hooky, limits debate, and goes home before finishing the people's business.

Maybe the reason there arn't millions of Americans still in the streets...(uh, occupy this...then to go home in disgust), is because Comedians (big "C"), expouse those epiphanies essential to understanding this experiment's relationship between the observer and the event, in broader context to far horizons...somewhat like science fiction has a way of becoming science fact over time.

 Sometimes we forget that we are our government, it works for we the people, and the people that work for it we call "public servants" for a reason, not because they are slave to their politics, but because they are slave to the people's will as concurrent with the rule of law, as manifest by our Constitution.

  "Wanting is not the same as having" said Star Trek's Spock in "Amok time" , and so it is true with love, as well as love of political power.

   A properly conducted democratic "experiment" requires grinding dicipline and exhaustive investigation, as generaly is the nature of things that inspire the human condition invariably does. 


Mari N.
United States
July 3, 2013
I agree with these folks:


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