Barack Obama set to deliver this year’s Nelson Mandela lecture in Johannesburg

Every year, the Nelson Mandela Foundation invites prominent figures to Johannesburg to discuss and drive debate around pressing social matters affecting the global community.

For its 16th annual Nelson Mandela Lecture this year, which is just one of the many events planned to mark what would have been Madiba’s 100th birthday, the foundation invited former US president Barack Obama.

Obama is now expected to speak at this year’s event with the theme, “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,” said the foundation in a statement.

The Obama announcement was made by the Nelson Mandela Foundation at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg on Monday morning and shared on Twitter.

Previous speakers since the lecture’s inception in 2003 include former US president Bill Clinton who delivered the first Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former president Thabo Mbeki, Chilean-American author and human rights activist Ariel Dorfman, Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former Irish president and philanthropist Mary Robinson, philanthropist Mo Ibrahim, Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, and United Nations deputy secretary-general Amina Mohammed

Bill Gates at the 14th Nelson Mandela Annual lecture.

“This year we thought: who can [better] represent the legacy of Madiba than the person whom we believe took … the baton when he became president of his own country.… Who can respond to the challenge? We then kept on asking ourselves who would be able to deal with issues of democracy in a world that is ravaged by corruption‚ and it is the very thing that he was trying to fight against‚” Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang explained.

Hatang also said the theme for this year was developed in recognition of the recent the death of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and around renewing the Mandela legacy and promoting active citizenship in a changing world.

The lecture is a way to celebrate both men’s outstanding legacies. “We hope that it will again be a significant moment for the two legacies to join,” added Hatang.

Obama will deliver his lecture on July 17 at the Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg, just one day ahead of what would have been Mandela’s 100th birthday.