Obama urges Africa to do more to stem brain drain

Carla Harmon
July 19, 2018

"Strongman politics are ascendant suddenly".

African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Mandela's widow Graca Machel were among the guests from Obama's speech - his highest-profile address since leaving office.

"Yesterday we had Trump and Putin standing together, now we are seeing the opposing team: Obama and Mandela".

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"So, on Madiba's 100 birthday, we now stand at a crossroads", he said, using a clan name of affection for Mandela.

But on Monday, he delivered a major address in South Africa defending the liberal global order and condemning the politics of division.

As Trump once again took to Twitter on Monday to denounce "fake news", a phrase he employs in response to negative coverage of his actions or rhetoric, Obama noted how "the free press is under attack". "He sacrificed as the longest-serving political prisoner", said Zuma.

"It's on a move at a pace that would have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago", he said.

Obama said today's times were "strange and uncertain", adding: "Each day's news cycle is bringing more head-spinning and disturbing headlines ... we see much of the world threatening to return to a more unsafe, more brutal way of doing business".

As guest speaker at the 16th Annual Nelson Mandela lecture (the 2018 edition marking the centennial of Madiba's birth) which took place in Johannesburg, Obama tracked the enormous social and democratic progress the world has made in the 100 years between Mandela's 1918 birth and 2018.

Earlier this week Obama called on Kenya's leaders to turn their backs on divisive ethnic politics and clamp down on corruption.

Obama made no direct reference to his successor but warned that "politics of fear and resentment" were spreading, driven by leaders who scorned facts and told lies with an "utter loss of shame". "When leaders are caught in a lie, they just double down and lie some more".

Obama's remarks come a day after Trump's news conference in Helsinki, Finland, in which the USA leader sided with Putin over his own country's intelligence agencies on whether Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

Mr. Trump regularly launches verbal assaults on the USA media, calling them the "enemy of the people". "Every generation has the opportunity to remake the world", Obama said.

"People just make stuff up", he said.

"So, young people who are in the audience, who are listening, my message to you is simple, keep believing, keep marching, keep building, keep raising your voice", he said.

In a clear reference to Mr. Trump's repeated claim that climate change is "a hoax", Mr. Obama said it is impossible to "find common ground" if a politician ignores the consensus of nearly all scientists.

"At least I can have a debate with them about that and I can show them why I think clean energy is the better path". "But that can not be an excuse for immigration policy based on race... They are French", he says. The lessons are on economic equality, the value of each individual and the importance of democracy.

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