Banners bearing the late icon Nelson Mandela’s face have lined the cordoned-off roads leading to Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, where the former president of the United States, Barack Obama, will deliver the 16th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture.
The lecture, which invites prominent people to drive debate on significant social issues, is an important event on the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s calendar.
It encourages people to enter into dialogue often about difficult subjects in order to address the challenges faced in society today.
This year, the 44th US president will deliver the lecture to an estimated 14 500 people who are expected to attend the event. Obama will deliver the lecture on Tuesday, on the eve of what would have been Mandela’s 100th birthday.
Former US president Barack Obama smiles during a visit to his ancestral home Kogelo, some 400km west of the capital Nairobi, Kenya. Obama is scheduled to travel to South Africa where he will deliver the annual Nelson Mandela lecture in Johannesuburg. Picture: Dai Kurokawa/EPA
The Nelson Mandela Foundation said it chose Obama to deliver the lecture because he had a global voice and wasn’t afraid to take a tough stance on social issues.
“Madiba’s 100th year comes only once and it’s important for us to look at people who are inspired by his legacy personally but also who have modelled their own leadership after Madiba, so Obama is that kind of person.
“We also looked for a person who can spread that message globally, who has a global platform and voice, who can raise the questions that are uncomfortable that we would like people to engage with.
“One of the issues we are dealing with is captured democracies – democracies that don’t work for people, who are in countries that are under developed,” said the foundation’s Director Luzuko Koti at a logistic media briefing on Monday afternoon.
Previous speakers of the lecture include Nobel laureate Prof Wangari Maathai, former president Thabo Mbeki, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Bill Gates.
Among the high-ranking dignitaries expected to attend are former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the president of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Members of the public who were not able to secure a coveted ticket to attend the lecture can still watch the event live, via live stream on Facebook and on the foundation’s Youtube channel. – SAnews.gov.za