Former US president Barack Obama speaks to the media during a news conference at the White House in Washington.File picture: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
THE Obama Foundation on Saturday began its five-day gathering in Joburg, of 200 emerging leaders from 44 countries across Africa.

This forms part of a one-year leadership development and civic engagement programme.

The foundation said the programme was designed to train, support, and connect emerging African leaders working to create positive change and explore new ways to tackle the biggest problems in their communities.

The inaugural class is made up of 200 young leaders with the youngest participant aged 22.

Twenty-five of those attending are from South Africa, including Independent Media journalist and Pankop community activist, Kabelo Chabalala.

The gathering will see speakers from public, private and non-profit sectors, including billionaire philanthropist Aliko Dangote, former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, former South African public protector Thuli Madonsela, Nelson Mandela’s widow Graça Machel and many others.

During the week former US president Barack Obama, who touched down in Kenya yesterday, will interact with the group in a town hall meeting.

This, as Obama heads to South Africa to deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela annual lecture at The Bidvest Wanderers stadium tomorrow afternoon to mark the 100th anniversary of Mandela’s birth.

Nine thousand tickets have been issued for the lecture to be delivered under the theme “Renewing the Mandela legacy and promoting active citizenship in a changing world”.

In an official statement, Obama said he would talk about how citizens could create the conditions to bridge divides, and work together to “resist oppression and inequality”.

The visit takes place despite lobby groups, such as Cage Africa and Palestine Solidarity Alliance, calling on the Nelson Mandela Foundation to “uninvite” Obama.

They claimed Obama’s principles were “contrary” to Mandela’s.

Obama issued a short list of books that he recommended for summer reading, including some of Africa’s best writers and thinkers.

The list included Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and Mandela’s Long Walk To Freedom.

Obama said he wanted to share the book list as he drew inspiration from them.

“Over the years since, I’ve often drawn inspiration from Africa’s extraordinary literary tradition. As I prepare for this trip, I wanted to share a list of books that I’d recommend for summer reading.

“These include some from a number of Africa’s best writers and thinkers - each of whom illuminate our world in powerful and unique ways,” Obama said.

The SABC announced that it would broadcast the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture by Barack Obama on radio and television.

The lecture will be covered live on SABC News Channel (404 on DStv), SABC2 and SABC Radio between 2pm and 4.30pm followed by an analysis of the speech.

Ten radio stations including Radio 2000, Lesedi FM, Metro FM, SAFM, and Motsweding FM will also broadcast live from the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

“The proceedings can also be followed on SABC online platforms via live streaming on the following SABC News online services... SABC News will have two live streams running concurrently with a focus on Obama and a 360-degree view of the venue.”

The live streams start at “2pm CAT/12pm GMT”, the public broadcaster said. - African News Agency (ANA)