Barack Obama: ‘Men Have Been Getting on My Nerves Lately’

Brenda Watkins
July 19, 2018

The ex-president noted that in a moment filled with "disturbing headlines", it was imperative to "get some perspective".

In his speech Wednesday, Obama also denounced political leaders for lying.

When Obama was a US senator, he had his picture taken with Mandela. Obama, who became the US' first black president in 2009, has referred to Mandela as a mentor.

Obama, whose Kenyan-born father studied in the United States but later returned home to work as an economist, described the phenomenon of the best minds leaving for global centres overseas as "a real issue".

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.

"Worse still, the documents demonstrate the FBI continued its wrong-headed Communist menace investigations of Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement even after USA imposition of trade sanctions against apartheid South Africa, after Mandela's globally-celebrated release from prison, and after the fall of the Berlin Wall".

Look around. Strongman politics are ascendant suddenly, whereby elections and some pretence of democracy are maintained - the form of it - but those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning... "It is in part because of the failures of governments and powerful elites to squarely address the shortcomings and contradictions of this global order that we now see much of the world threatening to return to an older, a more unsafe, a more brutal way of doing business".

The politics of "fear and resentment" is now on the move, in the United States and across the world, Mr. Obama said.

The former president, who left office in November 2016, was also headed for South Africa, where he delivered the annual Nelson Mandela Foundation lecture in Johannesburg on Tuesday afternoon.

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"Just by standing on the stage honouring Nelson Mandela, Obama is delivering an eloquent rebuke to Trump", said John Stremlau, professor of worldwide relations at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg.

He took hits at Trump's insecurity and treasure trove of insulting nicknames in an aside that prompted knowing laughter from the crowd.

"You have to believe in facts".

"Politicians have always lied-but it used to be if you caught them lying, they'd be like "aw man"," he said to laughter. And sometimes leaders may be ready to go, but all their cousins and friends and the people who've been making money off them having that position say: "no, you can't go because this is our whole economic engine".

"So, I think empowering more women on the continent-that right away is going to lead to some better policies", he added.

On this day marking the centennial of his birth, we commemorate Nelson Mandela's lifetime of service.

This is Obama's first visit to Africa since leaving office in early 2017.

Obama's speech drew on his great admiration for Mandela, a fellow Nobel Peace Prize victor whom America's first black president saw as a mentor.

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