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Obama to visit Robben Island jail

Source BBC News@ tienganhvui.com


The cell occupied by Nelson Mandela in Robben Island, South AfricaMr Obama's visit to the Robben Island jail where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years is likely to be one of the most poignant moments of his trip, say correspondents


US President Barack Obama is due to tour Robben Island - the jail in which Nelson Mandela was kept for 18 years.


The trip comes a day after Mr Obama visited members of the family of the 94-year-old former president, who remains critically ill in hospital.


Mr Obama paid tribute to the impact of the anti-apartheid leader in building a free South Africa, describing him as "an inspiration to the world".


Later, riot police clashed with anti-Obama protesters in Soweto.


Security is likely to be strengthened during this final Cape Town leg of his time in South Africa, says the BBC's Karen Allen who is there.




Obama: "Madiba's moral courage... has been a personal inspiration to me"



The US leader did not visit Mr Mandela, but met the Mandela family in private and spoke by telephone to his wife, Graca Machel.


Mr Mandela remains in critical condition. On Sunday South Africa's last apartheid president and the man jointly awarded the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with Mr Mandela, FW de Klerk, will return to South Africa after cutting short a visit to Europe due to Mr Mandela's poor health.


Power pledge

The visit by Mr Obama and the first family to Robben Island is likely to be the most poignant moment of the president's Africa tour, our correspondent says.



Nelson Mandela: Key dates


Nelson Mandela in June 2010



  • 1918 Born in the Eastern Cape

  • 1944 Joins African National Congress

  • 1956 Charged with high treason, but charges dropped

  • 1962 Arrested, convicted of sabotage, sentenced to five years in prison

  • 1964 Charged again, sentenced to life

  • 1990 Freed from prison

  • 1993 Wins Nobel Peace Prize

  • 1994 Elected first black president

  • 1999 Steps down as leader




Mr Mandela was held there for 18 years and his long history of lung problems can be traced to the tuberculosis he contracted there - which he attributed to the dampness of his cell.


Mr Obama will also visit a community project before delivering a keynote address at the University of Cape Town.


It is the same venue where 47 years ago, US Senator Robert Kennedy gave his famed "ripple of hope" speech, which gave inspiration to those fighting the racially divisive policies of apartheid rule and linked their struggle with that of the US civil rights movement.


Mr Obama is expected to pay tribute to South Africa's achievements over the past two decades but is expected to stress that more needs to be done to tackle poverty and disease, and strengthen democracy across the continent.


He is also due to announce a $7bn (£4.6bn) five-year initiative to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, in partnership with African countries and the private sector.


Beacon

Mr Obama has been faulted for lacking a grand programme and many Africans have been disappointed at what they see as his lack of engagement with the continent, despite his African ancestry.





Portraits of Nelson Mandela (left) and Barack Obama outside the MediClinic Heart hospital in Pretoria, 29 JuneMr Obama is not meeting Mr Mandela out of respect for the state of his health. Portraits of the two men could be seen among tributes in Pretoria


US President Barack Obama (left) shakes hands with South African President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria, 29 JuneMr Obama met his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, in Pretoria.


White House staff walk towards helicopters in Johannesburg, 29 June The Obama team have moved around by helicopter and car


US President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Johannesburg, 29 JuneMr Obama addressed young African leaders at the University of Johannesburg


Riot police clash with protesters in Soweto, 29 JuneEarlier, riot police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets to keep back protesters against the US leader's foreign polciy





In Pretoria on Saturday, Mr Obama said Mr Mandela's example of "the power of principle, of people standing up for what's right continues to shine as a beacon".


"The outpouring of love that we've seen in recent days shows that the triumph of Nelson Mandela and his nation speaks to something very deep in the human spirit; the yearning for justice and dignity that transcends boundaries of race and class and faith and country," he added.


Later, riot police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at scores of protesters in Soweto, once a flashpoint in the anti-apartheid struggle.


At least one person was injured and one arrested.


Some protesters were carrying portraits of Mr Obama marked with a Hitler-style moustache.


"People died in Libya, people are still dying in Syria... in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, drones are still killing people. So that's why we are calling him a Hitler. He's a killer,'' Ramasimong Tsokolibane, 54, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.


Mr Obama arrived in South Africa from Senegal on Friday evening. On Monday, he will continue his African tour in Tanzania.





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