NEWS
23/04/2018 15:22 BST | Updated 23/04/2018 15:22 BST

Obama's Mandela Address Will Be 'His Most Important Speech' Since Leaving The White House

The former U.S. president will also launch a year-long leadership initiative while in Johannebsurg.

Louise Gubb via Getty Images
Then-U.S. president Barack Obama speaks at the memorial for Nelson Mandela at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg

President Barack Obama's delivery of the annual Nelson Mandela Lecture is set to be the former U.S. president's "most important speech" since he left the White House in January 2017, his foreign policy adviser told the New York Times.

Ben Rhodes said the speech on July 17, 2018 will set the tone for Obama's post-presidency.

The Nelson Mandela and Obama Foundations on Monday announced that Obama will give the lecture in July. The Obama Foundation also announced ambitious plans to hold a five-day leadership training programme with 200 young leaders from across Africa to be held in Johannesburg with Obama as keynote speaker. The programme will feature workshops and skills training, and will be led by high-profile figures from the public and private sector, the foundation announced.

Rhodes told the New York Times that the former U.S. president will speak about tolerance in his Mandela lecture. "It gives him an opportunity to lift up a message of tolerance, inclusivity and democracy at a time when there are obviously challenges to Mandela's legacy around the world. Mandela endured far darker times than anything we're enduring today."

The Times reports that Obama will not attack current U.S. president Donald Trump directly, in keeping with U.S. tradition and convention, but won't "shrink" from confronting divisive issues raised by the Trump presidency. Rhodes told the newspaper the best way to promote inclusive and democratic societies is to empower young people.

According to a statement by the Obama Foundation, it received nearly 10,000 applications for the Leaders Programme: Africa. The programme entails a year-long leadership-development and civic-engagement programme, and will see 200 young African leaders receive training. The launch will be held over five days from July 14 to 18, 2018 in Johannesburg and will conclude with a "town-hall style" event with Obama.