Barack Obama to Deliver Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture to South Africans in July

The Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) said today that it is honoured to announce that former American President Barack Obama has accepted its invitation to be the speaker at this year’s The 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture.

The prestigious event will take place in Johannesburg on 17 July, ahead of Madiba’s birthday the following day (International Nelson Mandela Day)… which this year will mark a centenary since the South African icon was born. The former statesman died on 5 December 2013 at the age of 95.

The New York Times said Obama’s speech – on tolerance – will set the tone for his post-presidency career. The newspaper quoted a former speechwriter of Obama’s, who said: “It gives him an opportunity to lift up a message of tolerance, inclusivity and democracy at a time when there are obviously challenges to Mandela’s legacy around the world.”

Today the Obama Foundation announced a one-year programme to train and support 200 emerging leaders from across Africa to drive positive change throughout the continent.

The former president said: “These talented young people will create a better future not just in Africa, but around the world. I can’t wait to spend some time with Obama Foundation Leaders and look forward to honouring the Mandela legacy in Johannesburg this summer.”

The lecture honouring Mandela has become an annual tradition since 2003, giving global leaders the opportunity to raise topical issues affecting South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world.


The NMF said: “To honour the centennial of Madiba’s birth the lecture’s theme will be “Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World”. The Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture will focus on creating conditions for bridging divides, working across ideological lines, and resisting oppression and inequality.”

The lecture will be held at the Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg, and about 4 000 people are expected to attend.

Obama has visited South Africa on numerous occasions during his tenure as US President. He spoke at Mandela’s memorial service in December 2013.

With less than 90 days to the 2018 Nelson Mandela Day, the countdown has begun, with various activities set to commemorate the late global leader… including the annual lecture, the 67 blankets drive, sporting events and more.

Speaking at the launch of the countdown at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg on Monday, Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang urged citizens, especially young people, to actively engage with the legacy of Mandela as well as other struggle stalwarts like Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Hatang said Mandela Day is not just about 18 July and people should aim to bring about sustainable social change in the lives of others throughout the year, especially when 63% of children in South Africa are still living in poverty.

Previous speakers include global thought leaders and change makers such as Presidents Bill Clinton, Thabo Mbeki, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Mary Robinson and Michelle Bachelet; UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed; Nobel Laureates Kofi Annan, Wangari Maathai, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Muhammad Yunus; Professors Ariel Dorfman, Thomas Piketty and Ismail Serageldin; and philanthropists Bill Gates and Mo Ibrahim.