By Alix Langone
July 17, 2018

Former President Barack Obama gave his first significant speech since he left the Oval Office on Tuesday, commemorating the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth.

Speaking to a crowd of around 15,000 people at the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg, Obama called the South African political leader “one of history’s true giants” and someone whose “progressive, democratic vision” helped shape international policies.

Obama touched on numerous topics ranging from the need to stand up for democracy and believe in facts to the current state of politics, though he never mentioned President Donald Trump by name.

“I am not being alarmist, I’m simply stating the facts,” Obama said. “Look around — strongman politics are ascendant, suddenly, whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained, the form of it, but those in powers seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning.”

“Too much of politics today seems to reject the very concept of objective truth,” Obama said. “People just make stuff up. They just make stuff up.”

Obama also made a reference to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, saying social media “has proved to be just as effective promoting hatred and paranoia and propaganda and conspiracy theories.”

You can read the full transcript of Obama’s speech in South Africa below:

 

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