Former United States of America President, Barack Obama has urged young people to stand up and bring down towers of oppression that may threaten humanity by emulating the revolutionary example set by the late South African first black leader, Nelson Mandela who defied his young age to challenge the apartheid system.
Addressing an estimated 15 thousand people at the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg yesterday, Obama took his audience down an emotional memory lane from Madiba’s long fight for democracy in South Africa which he said should inspire young people.
“Every generation has the opportunity to remake the world. Mandela said, ‘Young people are capable, when aroused, of bringing down the towers of oppression and raising the banners of freedom.’ Now is good time to be aroused. Now is a good time to be fired up,” said Obama.
Mandela’s 1996 address in France on the Bastille day appeared fresh to Obama when he revealed Mandela’s belief in young people as a central focus to safeguarding the interest of their nation.
“I admire young people who are concerned with the affairs of their country community and nation perhaps because I also became involved in struggle whilst I was still at school. With such youth we can be sure that ideals we celebrate today will never be extinguished,” he said.
Obama revealed how he adored Mandela’s values evidenced by his Foundation, convened every year in a bid to sustain his legacy while giving the youths an opportunity to write new chapters in the history of their communities.
“And for those who care about the legacy that we honor here today about equality and dignity and democracy and solidarity and kindness, those of us who remain young at heart, if not in body we have an obligation to help our youth succeed.
“Some of you know here in South Africa, my Foundation is convening over the last few days, two hundred young people from across this continent who are doing the hard work of making change in their communities; who reflect Madiba’s values,” he said.
Obama reiterated his belief in young people as the custodians of hope charging that whenever progress among other democratic foundations are at stake, it is important to rely on the youths as advised by Robert Kennedy.
“Because history shows that whenever progress is threatened, and the things we care about most are in question, we should heed the words of Robert Kennedy spoken here in South Africa, he said, ‘Our answer is the world’s hope: it is to rely on youth. It’s to rely on the spirit of the young’,” he said.
Obama’s message sent social media abuzz with the majority of his online audiences juxtaposing the message with the 40 year old MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa across the border.
In his concluding remarks, Obama said the young people are taking over the baton citing a few distinguished characters across the African continent who he said are doing exceptionally well in different fields to improve their communities.