Obama Honors Nelson Mandela: ‘His Triumph Was Your Triumph’

President calls on leaders to use Mandela's legacy as a call to action for political and social reform

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Alexander Joe / AFP / Getty Images

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a speech during the memorial service for late South African President Nelson Mandela at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg to on Dec. 10, 2013.

Dozens of world leaders gathered to honor Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, with President Barack Obama paying tribute to the late South African leader as “the last great liberator of the 20th century.”

Amid steady rain and deafening cheers, Obama compared Mandela to Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., saying he was, “a giant of history who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world.”

The world leaders honored Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, who died Dec. 5 at age 95, at a memorial service in Johannesburg, speaking to tens of thousands gathered in a rain-soaked soccer stadium.

“The world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us,” Obama said, often referring to him by his clan name, Madiba. “His struggle was your struggle; his triumph was your triumph. Your freedom, your democracy, are his cherished legacy.”

And Obama implored people not just to embrace Mandela’s legacy, but to use his example to continue to improve the world.

“There is a word in South Africa — ubuntu — that describes his greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us,” Obama said over the roar of the crowd at the mention of ubuntu.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said “South Africa has lost a hero, the world has lost a beloved friend and mentor.

“Nelson Mandela was more than one of the greatest leaders of our time,” he added. “He was one of our greatest teachers. He taught by example.”

Obama was joined in Johannesburg by former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also attended.

“The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality and universal franchise may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before,” Obama said, “but they are no less important.”

Obama also offered a not-so-subtle criticism of authoritarian leaders. “There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people,” he said, just moments after shaking hands with Cuban President Raul Castro, who was among the world leaders on the stage. “There are too many of us who stand on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.

And he recalled being motivated as a college student by Mandela’s fight against apartheid. “While I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be better,” Obama said. “He speaks to what is best inside us.”

“We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again,” Obama said. “But let me say to the young people of Africa, and young people around the world — you can make his life’s work your own.”

In his own remarks, Castro praised Mandela as the “ultimate symbol of dignity and unwavering dedication to the revolutionary struggle for freedom and justice.”

“As Mandela’s life teaches us, only the concerted efforts of all nations will empower humanity to respond to the numerous challenges that today threaten its very existence,” Castro said.

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee said Mandela’s stoic determination, patience, and magnanimity reminded us in India of the revolutionary methods of Mahatma Ghandi.”

43 comments
robertinsatx
robertinsatx

It all makes sense to me now, when our current president was going to Columbia University in the "80's, he misspoke; he was actually attending the “University of Tecturers with his long lost friend Thamsanqa Jantjie. Maybe this is why he sealed all of his college records. And here I thought that the reason he sealed his records was for his terrible grades & his claim to be a foreign exchange student.

When the truth about "president what's his name" finally comes-out, anyone that voted for him will finally ask themselves, "How could I have been so blindly stupid to believe in his lies."

eiseman805
eiseman805

Oh that is RICH...

“There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba's struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people,” Obama said

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black...see DEAR LEADERS public vilification and IRS targeting of Tea Party, conservatives etc...

Tiger-Pi
Tiger-Pi

What Nelson Mandela achieved could be perhaps condensed into one sentence,' he  challenged the racist mind set of the world, and won the war against racial inequality  by becoming a symbol  of sacrifice and an icon of freedom to all people of all times.' He showed that no one person could rule another by claiming superiority by the color of their skin or monopolistic control of wealth and  natural resources that had been misappropriated over the centuries by colonists. Alas, some of the rude comments made on these pages reflect the very same racist mind set of people unwilling to accept the fact that humanity is one big family and still sees others through the blurred lens of race,religion, region,creed and language. Both Gandhi and Martin Luther  were brutally killed by assassins with the same fossilized outlook that these commentators now spew on these pages. 

david.axelrod
david.axelrod

vvtf!!  40% of the people in South Africa make $2/day, yet the imbeciles in the MSM are celebrating him as though he were some great leader! 


Like most every black leaders, Mandela was a huge FAIL, just like Obama...yet they're celebrated as great leaders.  Are you BRAVE enough to truthfully answer WHY?  Yah.....they're both black commies in drag.

Berthold
Berthold

President Obama. Their is a political prisoner in a United States prison name Oscar López Rivera. He is being in prison 32 + years accused on the same charges as Mr. Mandela; secession. The diference between Mandela and Mr. López is that Mr. López did not go in arms as Mr. Mandela did against the  South Africa  Government. Mr. President, please put your words into action. Today you gave honor to Mr. Mandela, becuase he fought for South Africa freedom. Mr. López is a Puerto Rico freedom fighter as Mr. Mandela. Liberate Mr. López now, and you will bring Mr. Mandela's spirit the honor Mr. Mandela deserves.

Openminded1
Openminded1

I noticed many white faces in the crowd for Mr. Mandela, I guess you can see in black and white with those pictures everyone loved and respected Nelson. I wonder if he was a white man if so many blacks would have showed up.?

damnedgentlemen
damnedgentlemen

ObamaMandelaCastroCommiesBengahziAAARRGGGHHH!!1!


Sincerely,

Every Single Member of the Tea Party


KSParthasarathy
KSParthasarathy

President Obama's moving words echoed the sentiments felt universally about Nelson Mandela, a true follower of  Gandhiji. May Mandela's life of sacrifice remain an ideal example for every one to cherish. India conferred on him Bharatratna, the highest civilian award,Gandhi Peace Prize, Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding and Indira Gandhi Award for International Justice and Harmony; these were among the 34 awards he received in his life time.

On December 10, BBC listed the following  as the six things you didn't know : He was a boxing fan. His original name was not Nelson. He forgot his glasses when he was released from prison. He dressed up as a chauffeur to evade police. He had his own law firm, but it took him years to get a law degree. . "He was on a US terror watch list until 2008", This was the remaining  thing  in the BBC's list. With his stirring speech, President Obama  amply compensated him for the wrong impression USA had maintained for long!


 


ChandraPanchabhikesan
ChandraPanchabhikesan

Obama's speech was a powerful tribute to Nelson Mandels: it came from the heart. Mandela inspired millions, the rich, the poor, the powerful and the ordinary. So Obama's glowing tributes touched the hearts and minds of people across the world. The heartfelt  message was poignant, respectful and very sincere.

Openminded1
Openminded1

Obama wishes he had half as much love and respect  nelson had. I wonder if Obama would be at the memorial if Nelson was white? Or would he have sent Biden. I think the racist would have sent Biden.

meddevguy
meddevguy

A guy who worships and misuses power giving a campaign speech supposedly about a guy who bowed out after one term. A guy who used his special status to get the best schooling and the best life talking about a guy who spent 27 years of his life in prison. A guy who uses discrimination 50 years ago for power invoking a guy who actually lived and cured a racial divide.


What's wrong with this picture? No worries -- you'll see it over and over during the 2014 MidTerm campaign.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Black commies in drag? That is amusing coming from a guy who has an Avatar making our black president and his wife look like chimps.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@Berthold Oscar is not black, no help from Obama , give it up on till an Hispanic gets in office.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Seeing as so many blacks show up to honor Clinton, I think you have your answer.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Wow photos of the president, how damning. Between this and your constant LOLs, I'm starting to wonder if you aren't a teenage girl.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@mantisdragon91 Typical hive bs from you mantis. Give my regards to 53 and the rest of the wimps at the hive. But I know Buchanan and reagan where racist. but so is obama.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@ChandraPanchabhikesanI It is called Pc rhetoric . Everyone admired Nelson Obama wishes he was half the man nelson was and will be remembered as.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Even more curious is the fact that only two GOP members attended. Maybe if he was white they would hva flocked to pay their respects.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

A guy who represents the party that brought racial equality to the US as opposed to the party that supported the Apartheid government that imprisoned Mandela.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@mantisdragon91 Clinton is still alive, and is an honorary black. remember Hillary wants to be potus and billy wants to be back in the white house too. That is why he opened his offices in Harlem to win over the black vote. so think again.

reallife
reallife

@mantisdragon91

don't get your panties in a bunch, honey... you've been so sensitive these last few months... follow the sequence... funny... but, probably over your little head...


LOL


mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

But isn't Reagan the GOP's golden idol who they worship to this day and want to name everything after?

Openminded1
Openminded1

@MrObvious @mantisdragon91 I see you have been lying to the hive. I admired Nelson, it is Obama that I do not like, he is no mandela not even close. he will try to ride on his coat tales because they are both black. Give my regards to the idiot 53, the bs story you dummys bought. His wife left him alright but she did not die morons. How naive you hive jerks are.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@mantisdragon91 You are kidding mantis, racial equality ,what a joke Obama is a racist that has divided the U.S. with some of his bs bias comments. he has set back race relations 20 years. Trayvon could have been his son bs and his professor friend getting arrested and Obama calling a white police officer stupid etc. get real

Openminded1
Openminded1

@mantisdragon91 Maybe, maybe not depends on Hillary and clintons stand on obama's future. Time will tell he is popular with blacks right now.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

So if Bill was to pass away there wouldn't be thousands of blacks paying their respects?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Your last post, does nothing to disprove my theory about your maturity level.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@mantisdragon91 Not in my book, remember I am an independent. I could and will say the same about The Muslim Obama is he not the democratic savior for you libs.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@KSParthasarathy @Openminded1 because you are naive, it is called racism, weather he be a sentiment, an opinion,or argument bias always comes out. And in reference to Obama he is a racist. If Nelson had been white, Joe Biden would have represented the U.S.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

I'm merely pointing out an easily verified fact. Draw your own conclusions.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@Irony as is the democratic majority, if you think black and hispanics are not racist, think again.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@MrObvious @Openminded1 @mantisdragon91 There are many black racist O and hispanic racist and a few asian racist too. And the vast majority of them are democrats and libs all the way.

Irony
Irony

No, not all. Merely a sizable majority.