Johannesburg: Former US President Barack Obama, who has often talked about the influence of Mahatma Gandhi on his life, today invoked him during a major speech, while articulating his vision of equality, justice and freedom. Obama, who scripted history by becoming the first black President of the US in 2009, has long shown a fascination with Gandhi, hanging a photo of the Indian icon on the wall of his Senate office and citing Gandhi in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
In an address in honour of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela ahead of the 100th anniversary of his birth, Obama made a plea to his audience to preserve democratic freedoms as the key to peace. “Let me tell you what I believe. I believe in Nelson Mandela’s vision, I believe in a vision shared by (Mahatma) Gandhi and (Martin Luther) King, and Abraham Lincoln, I believe in a vision of equality and justice and freedom and multi-racial democracy built on a pretense that all people are created equal and are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.
“And I believe that a world governed by such principles is possible and that it can achieve more peace and more cooperation in pursuits of a common good. That’s what I believe,” Obama said. He said that there was a choice between two visions of humanity’s future that the world must choose between.