Thousands turn up for Obama’s Mandela lecture

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JOHANNESBURG, July – Thousands of people have come out in numbers despite the cold weather and traffic congestion at the Wanderers Cricket Stadium in Johannesburg where former US President Barack Obama will on Tuesday afternoon deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture to mark the 100th birthday of the late former statesman.

Temperatures in Johannesburg were averaging at 14°C on midday Tuesday and Corlette Drive, the major road leading to the stadium, was closed off to traffic from 4 am for the high-risk event, causing frustration for many motorists.

Scores of people had started interacting with pop-up stalls located inside the stadium where all kinds of merchandise and paraphernalia with Mandela’s image, from t-shirts, caps, goodies, and books were being sold. But despite this, the designated section of the stadium was yet to fill up with the 15,000 accredited attendees even though some VIP guests had already begun streaming in.

Among the key guests are former caretaker president Kgalema Motlanthe; former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi; President of Cape Verde Jorge Carlos de Almeida Fonseca and his predecessor Pedro de Verona Rodrigues; President of Botswana Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi and his predecessor Ian Khama, and former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Obama is set to deliver the 45-minutes long speech at 14h45 about being introduced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, speaking about renewing Mandela’s legacy and promoting active citizenship in a changing world.

– African News Agency (ANA)