Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday told young African leaders in Johannesburg, South Africa, that he would like to see more women enter the political fray because he is growing increasingly frustrated with men.
In a speech before 200 students at the African Leadership Academy, former President Obama lamented the frequency of which he sees reports of men behaving in a “violent” and “bullying” manner.
“Women in particular, by the way, I want you to get more involved,” Obama told attendees. “Because men have been getting on my nerves lately. Every day I read the newspaper, and I just think, brothers, what’s wrong with you guys? What’s wrong with us? I mean, we’re violent, we’re bullying. You know, just not handling our business.”
“So I think empowering more women on the continent … that right away is going to lead to some better policies,” he added.
"Men have been getting on my nerves lately," says Barack Obama pic.twitter.com/j5z62PvKUL
— CNN International (@cnni) July 18, 2018
Obama urged the young African leaders to reject cynicism infecting the continent’s politics, reminding them that determined young people will evidently be faced with challenges in government. “The one thing you can’t do is pretend that politics doesn’t matter and say to yourself ‘that’s too corrupt, that’s too broken, I’m not going to get involved in it’ because at some point if you are ambitious about what you are doing in your home country, you will confront politics,” he said.
On Tuesday, Obama delivered the 16th annual Nelson Mandela lecture in Johannesburg, South Africa, and called for greater global wealth redistribution.
“For almost all countries, progress is going to depend on an inclusive market-based system – one that offers education for every child, that protects collective bargaining and secures the rights of every worker,” Obama began. “That breaks up monopolies to encourage competition and small and medium-sized businesses and has laws that root out corruption and ensures fair dealing in business, that maintains some form of progressive taxation so that rich people are still rich, but they’re giving a little bit back.”
Obama also served up criticism of the state of race relations in America. “It is a plain fact that racial discrimination still exists in both the United States and South Africa,” he told the crowd at Ellis Park Arena. “And it is also a fact that the accumulated disadvantages of years of institutionalized depression have created yawning disparities in income, and in wealth and in education, and in health, in personal safety, in access to credit.”
The former president opened by describing today’s times as “strange and uncertain,” adding that “each day’s news cycle is bringing more head-spinning and disturbing headlines.” These days “we see much of the world threatening to return to a more dangerous, more brutal, way of doing business,” he said.
This is the former president’s first visit to Africa since leaving office in early 2017. He stopped this week in Kenya, where he visited the rural birthplace of his late father.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.