CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) - President Barack Obama challenged young Africans to rise to the challenge of shoring up progress on the continent that rests on a "fragile foundation," summoning them to fulfill the legacy of South Africa's beloved former leader Nelson Mandela.
"Nelson Mandela showed us that one man's courage can move the world," Obama said during an evening speech Sunday at the University of Cape Town.
Obama's remarks capped an emotional day that included a visit to the Robben Island prison where Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. The 94-year-old anti-apartheid hero has been in hospital for most of this month and is said to be in critical condition.
In deeply personal remarks, the U.S. president spoke of standing in Mandela's cramped prison cell with his two young daughters, Malia and Sasha.
"Seeing them stand within the walls that once surrounded Nelson Mandela, I knew this was an experience they would never forget," he said. "I knew they now appreciated a little bit more that Madiba and other had made for freedom," Obama added, referring to Mandela by his clan name.
Obama address came nearly 50 years after Robert F. Kennedy delivered his famous "Ripple of Hope" speech at the same university, an address that Obama aides said helped inspire the president's remarks. Kennedy's speech, delivered soon after Mandela was sentenced to prison, called on young people to launch a fight against injustice, creating ripples of hope that would "build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."