Addressing students at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, President Barack Obama spoke on Sunday about the profound impact that this nation’s history had on his own political maturation. Obama told the South African students that, when he was a teenager, he was moved to abandon cynicism and engage in the political process in order to oppose his university’s and the American government’s support for the Apartheid South African government.
“I actually took my first step in the political life because of South Africa,” Obama began. He said that growing up with an American mother and an African father left him with a sense of appreciation for diversity, but he was never particularly interested in politics.
“Like many young people I thought that cynicism, a certain ironic detachment, was a sign of wisdom and sophistication,” he added. “But then I learned what was happening here in South Africa.”
“I knew that while brave people were imprisoned just off these shores, on Robben Island, my own government in the United States was not standing on their side,” Obama said. “And that’s why I got involved in what was known as the divestment movement in the United States. It was the first time I ever attached myself to a cause.”
Watch the clip below via MSNBC:
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