The Nelson Mandela Foundation said they chose former US president Barack Obama to deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela Lecture because he is passionate about active citizenship.

The 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, in partnership with the Motsepe Foundation, is to be delivered by Barack Obama on Tuesday at Wanderers Cricket Stadium in Illovo.

The lecture is one of the foundation’s flagship programmes to honour the struggle icon. Every year since 2003, global leaders have used the lecture to raise topical issues affecting South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world.

Speaking to The Star, Nelson Mandela Foundation Director of Communications, Luzuko Koti said globally democracy is under threat and someone needs to interrogate this.

“We are dealing with a global community where democracy is at risk, where democracy is captured either by government, other forces including people who take advantage of our people. We wanted to interrogate this issue of captured democracies globally and here in South Africa but also looking at the legacy of Madiba, some level of analysis of active citizenship and we know the man [Barack Obama] is passionate about that from his leadership programmes.

“This is Madiba’s centenary. It is his 100th year. I think all of us we are excited that we have lived to see this time. We know the impact that he [Mandela] has made in our lives, in our politics and also in transforming our society. Not just South Africa but globally. We needed to mark that centenary in a way that would be memorable for generations. So this is why we thought who could be the perfect speaker or correct speaker, the fitting speaker to talk about Madiba at this time.

“Obviously you don’t start about who but start with what you want to achieve. What is about someone who is going to remember Madiba in a way that makes us all fill that in fact they have done justice to the man. And Barack Obama having been inspired by Madiba himself has spoken so fondly about the man, having framed and structured his leadership style around how Madiba used to solve problems and lead these spaces. We thought this is the right person to come to African and talk about Madiba,” Koti said.

To honour the centennial of Madiba’s birth, the lecture’s theme will be “Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World”.

The lecture will focus on creating conditions for bridging divides, working across ideological lines, and resisting oppression and inequality. World leaders, ministers and members of the public are expected to attend the lecture.

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