Mandela lecture: Barack Obama condemns disregard for facts

Barack Obama

"We see the utter loss of shame in political leaders when they're caught in a lie and they just double down and lie some more", Obama said, warning that the undermining of facts and reality could "be democracy's undoing". "I am not being alarmist I am simply stating the facts", he said, adding that "strongmen politics" are suddenly ascending.

One of his most direct criticisms toward Trump administration was over the withdrawal from the Paris climate deal, saying that he can't "find common ground" with people who claim that climate change is a hoax, "when nearly all the world's scientists say it is".

"Yesterday we had Trump and Putin standing together, now we are seeing the opposing team: Obama and Mandela".

"The world is facing unusual and uncertain times and it is at times like these that the example of Nelson Mandela is so important", Obama said.

He added that politics today often rejected the concept of objective truth.

"Let me tell you what I believe", he said.

In his speech Obama tracked the enormous social and democratic progress the world has made in the 100 years between Mandela's 1918 birth and 2018.

While not mentioning Donald Trump directly, Obama took aim at him saying he uses "politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment", likely referring to Trump's many, angry Twitter rants.

Barack Obama

Obama also said despite the progress that has been made globally in the last few decades, the world also had to recognise all the ways the global order has fallen short. So we're going to have to consider new ways of thinking about these problems, like a universal income, review of our work week, how we retrain our young people, how we make everybody an entrepreneur at some level.

President Barack Obama delivers a speech during the memorial service for late South African President Nelson Mandela at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013. "It used to be that if you caught them lying, they'd be like, oh, man - now they just keep on lying".

Former US president Barack Obama noted that democracy should be about more than just elections and who gets the most votes.

Obama's speech is expected to highlight how the Nobel Peace Prize victor, who was imprisoned for 27 years, kept up his campaign against what appeared to be insurmountable odds to end apartheid, South Africa's harsh system of white minority rule.

Obama, who also visited Kenya this week, also praised South Africa's current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, saying he had instilled "new hope" among South Africans.

Obama, who scripted history by becoming the first black President of the United States in 2009, has long shown a fascination with Gandhi.

"And I believe that a world governed by such principles is possible and that it can achieve more peace and more cooperation in pursuits of a common good".

Obama spoke in Johannesburg, South Africa, on what would have been the former South African President's 100th birthday.

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