Obama condemns 'strongman politics' and disregard for facts

President Barack Obama delivered a speech in honor of Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday in South Africa on Tuesday.   Siphiwe Sibeko  Reuters

President Barack Obama delivered a speech in honor of Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday in South Africa on Tuesday. Siphiwe Sibeko Reuters

From wandering in his childhood home, the rural village of Qunu, to his 8-by-7-foot cell on Robben Island, to the moment he delivered his historic inauguration speech at Pretoria's Union Buildings, the virtual reality tour, called Walk in Mandela's Footsteps, seeks to tell Nelson Mandela's life story while providing new insights into the late president's life.

In his trademark, soaring rhetoric, a campaign-style President Barack Obama delivered a speech at a Nelson Mandela anniversary event Tuesday that urged faith, tolerance and a turn from cynicism in these "strange and uncertain times".

Obama pivoted to specific issues like the immigration crisis boiling over at the U.S. - Mexico border and Trump's gleeful shredding of objective truth in favor of political expediency.

"I believe what people are doing is a failure to take South Africa forward and want to blame the man who brought freedom", he added. "I'm not being alarmist".

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

Warning against creeping populism and "strongman politics", he made the case for liberal democracy, saying that he believed it offered the better future for humanity. "These movements tapped the unease that was felt by so many people who live outside of urban course".

"You don't have to take a vow of poverty just to say let me help out a few of these folks". "Not all of those folks looked like Gauls to me, but they are French".

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"The free press is under attack, censorship and state control of media is the rise, social media once seen as a mechanisms to promote knowledge and understanding and solidarity proved to be just as effective promoting hatred and paranoia and propaganda and conspiracy theories", he added.

His speech came one day after Trump declined to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite the assessment of USA intelligence agencies that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election by hacking computer systems and using other tactics.

The former United States leader called on the crowd of 14,000 to remember Mandela's vision, "built on the premise that all people are created equal".

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. "We've been through lower valleys", and he closed with a call to action: "I say if people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love". "We're going to have to learn from the mistakes of the recent past", said Obama.

Obama reflected on times of the past when powers of the world viewed certain nations, certain races and certain groups as "apparently superior and violence and corruption was the primarily basis for governments", when "the strong unnecessarily exploited the weak, wealth was determined primarily by conquest. women were subordinate to men, and privilege and status was bound by color". "That our differences... are superficial and that we should treat each other with care and respect".

"During the production, we shot an enormous amount of footage that was not used in the feature film and chose to create the mini-series", says Singh.

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