Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
- Helen Keller

Mandela Annual Lecture: Obama Speech


Barack Obama addressed the world’s media and an audience of 15,000 people in Johannesburg, South Africa for the annual Nelson Mandela lecture, celebrating the centenary of Mandela’s birth.

Obama is a first class orator and delivers a masterclass in leadership, change and humility.

Both Mandela and Obama are Nobel Peace Prize laureates and both were the first black presidents of their countries.

Be Inspired


The whole speech (at 1 hour 18 minutes) is well worth a listen. WATCH IT HERE


Barack Obama paid homage to the path to progress laid by Nelson Mandela. Talked about the global, political and economic shifts, scientific breakthroughs and infrastructure developments since.  The progress has been broad and deep in the past few decades; the most recent generation are living in conditions that give us cause for hope.

There are many ways in which the International Order (of human rights) has fallen short of its promise, in part because of failures of governments and political elites to squarely address the shortcomings and contradictions of the International Order.  “The previous structures of privilege, injustice and exploitation never completely went away, they were never fully dislodged”. “Racial discrimination…and inequality for women… still exist around the world”

5 key themes from Obama's speech.

  1. Collaboration: well-researched facts provide the common ground for collaboration
  2. Immigration: an equal society draws on the talents and energy of all its people
  3. Economics: the business elite are out of touch with ordinary people. Promote inclusive capitalism & entrepreneurship.
  4. Democracy: grass roots democracy, not strongman politics, will offer a better future for humanity.
  5. Keep hope alive: “we don’t just need one leader… what we badly needed is that collective spirit”

The rapid pace of change requires us to do more fundamental imagining about our political and social arrangements and providing jobs.

There are two competing narratives and we must choose: hope or fear?

I believe, as Mandela did, that all people are created equal. That we can achieve more peace and more co-operation in pursuit of a common good… We have no choice but to move forward” …   “The most successful and prosperous countries in the world have most closely approximated the liberal progressive ideal”

“Mandela said young people are capable when aroused of bringing down the towers of oppression and raising the banners of freedom” he said. “Now is a good time to be aroused”

Ask: How can I give back, how can I help more? How can I help people, not just myself?

and to add my practical take on this… we can all make a difference…one conversation at a time… what will you do to take these themes and make them relevant for your daily work?

Together we make a difference.


Back to index



Sign up to our blog or newsletter

Our monthly newsletter includes a digest of the blog, other news and special offers.

It is easy to unsubscribe if you change your mind later and we never pass on your details to anyone else.

Sign up


Angela designed a series of focus groups to prompt discussion and gather feedback from a variety of stakeholders groups at different levels of the organisational hierarchy. The design step ensured that all the facilitators were aligned on the purpose and key questions to explore.  The discussions were well attended and provided rich insight.  This enabled us to gain approval for a robust and radical redesign to our global talent development programme
- Julie Hawkins, Early Career Development Consultant – Engineering Organisation

Buy a trial coaching session

We understand that you might prefer to have a trial run to establish that working with us is the right fit for you. We offer a trial coaching session so you can experience our approach first hand.

Find out more