Johannesburg: US President Barack Obama urged the youths of Africa Saturday to follow the footsteps of former South African president Nelson Mandela in building a bright future for their countries. Addressing young South Africans at the University of Johannesburg, where he held a town hall meeting as part of his three-day visit to South Africa, Obama said Mandela managed to transform South Africa and inspired the world. The youths should follow his footsteps.
Obama wished the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader, fighting for his life in a Pretorial hospital due to a lung infection, a quick recovery. Announcing his plans to develop what he termed as "the yes we can attitude of young Africans", the US president said: "We are launching a new programme that is going to give thousands of promising young Africans the opportunity to come to the US to develop your skills in some of our best colleges and universities."
Meanwhile, police fired stun grenades on hundreds of protesters demonstrating against Obama's visit to South Africa outside the University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus. Similar protests were also staged in Pretoria on Friday. Protesters demanded that the US should stop its aggressive police that cause crimes against humanity in relation to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Middle East conflict, globalisation and global warming.
Saturday's protest was organised by the "No You Can't Obama Campaign (Nobama)". The campaign is also protesting the university's "poor and undemocratic" decision to award Obama an honorary doctorate. Obama is the first black president of the US and Mandela, the first black president of South Africa.
On Saturday, with Mandela fighting for his life in the hospital, President Obama abandoned his hope for a visit and instead used every stop here to talk in emotional and sweeping terms about what Mandela meant to the world, and to him, The New York Times reported.
"I expressed my hope that Madiba (Mandela's clan name) draws peace and comfort from the time that he is spending with loved ones," Obama said after a meeting some of Ma'dela's children and grandchildren. Obama had built his Africa trip months ago on the hope of meeting Mandela, whom he has described a personal hero.
The visit to South Africa is Obama's second leg of a three-nation African tour which started in Senegal, followed by South Africa and will continue to Tanzania.