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Biden recalls first visit to S. Africa and apartheid

By Sudarsan Raghavan
Johannesburg, South Africa -- This was not the first time Vice President Biden had been to South Africa.

In remarks before South African political and business leaders at the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg on Friday Morning, Biden described the moment he first arrived in this country with a group of African American congressmen. It was the 1970s, and apartheid ruled.

Biden was a 34-year-old U.S. senator, far younger than others in the delegation. Three Afrikaner soldiers boarded the plane parked on the tarmac of the city's airport and escorted Biden and the others off the plane onto a red carpet.

"I turned right, and about 20 paces down that carpet I realized I was alone," Biden recalled. "No one was with me. I turned and look behind me. All I saw was the Afrikaner soldiers. The entire delegation of African American leaders was being taken in the other direction. I was perplexed. And I turned to go with that delegation."

But the Afrikaner soldiers stopped him.

"I was told I could not go through the door that said 'Black'. I had to go through the door that said 'White, Not colored.'"

Biden later went to Soweto with the delegation and recalled how the black congressmen, most of whom were leaders in the civil rights struggle, stood with tears and anger when they arrived in the township that was the cradle of the anti-apartheid movement.

"These men were real heroes," Biden said.

Outside the consulate, that South Africa no longer exists. Along Sandton Road, which snakes past the building. South Africans of all races were blowing long-necked plastic horns called vuvizelas and honking their car horns to support the South African national soccer team, which plays Mexico in the World Cup later today.

Inside the consulate, Biden also spoke of the strengthening partnerships between the United States and South Africa in such areas as global health, the environment and business. He said it was gratifying to see South Africa play a leadership role on issues affecting Africa and the world. The country has been working to resolve conflicts in the Congo and Sudan and to fight the negative effects of climate change.

On Saturday, Biden will watch the United States team play England. Before he ended his remarks, he made a prediction. "In the spirit of a genuine Irishman, we are going to beat England."

By Sudarsan Raghavan in Johannesburg, South Africa  |  June 11, 2010; 10:49 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Barack Obama , Joe Biden  
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Comments

They were heroes, but were they articulate and clean?

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 15, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

They were heroes, but were they articulate and clean?

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 15, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

They were heroes, but were they articulate and clean?

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 15, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

They were heroes, but were they articulate and clean?

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 15, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Dear God what is the matter with you people? We are lucky to have all of these LEADERS to help us through 9/11, the BP disaster, avoiding WWIII, and whatever crazy thing happens next!
If you want to do it better, do IT YOURSELF!
Get yourself the expert training, education, political support, capital, and campaign 'till you drop...see if you can make it through the first primary in one piece!
Rotsa ruck.

Posted by: miahaas1 | June 12, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

VP Biden glad you are where its believed the "Garden of Eden" exists. Unfortunate that in some parts of that City-- I'm sure that 'blight' called apartheid still lives.
Evils created my man dies hard.
WE all can still remember the life and times of England/Belfast and Irish Catholics.

That said, as a lover of football, you could just in your statement give the English the energy needed to beat us in this game. Enjoy the scene. Drink it in. I can only think school days, Crazy, crazy school days.. with football, laughs and cheers it brought as a back drop. Wow! Now that's all history!
http://myown.oprah.com/audition/index.html?request=vote_confirm

Posted by: Victoria5 | June 12, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Biden is staying in Kenya?
Maybe Biden is staying in Soweto?
Can he just stay in South Africa?

Posted by: yokohlman | June 11, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Biden, Hilary and Tony Hayward met as contestants in a Liars Contest.
Hilary claimed she'd narrowly avoided snipers in Bosnia.
Hayward claimed that the amount of oil leaking was 1,000 barrels a day.
Biden won by claiming he believed them both.

Posted by: bgreen2224 | June 11, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Biden, Hilary and Tony Hayward met as contestants in a Liars Contest.
Hilary claimed she'd narrowly avoided snipers inn Bosnia.
Hayward claimed that the amount of oil leaking was 1,000 barrels a day.
Biden won by claiming he believed them both.

Posted by: bgreen2224 | June 11, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

According to Biden, his first visit to SA was in the 1800's ... when he first came to Washington. He fought off lions and tigers and bares, bear-handed. "I remembers it like it was yestiddy. It was a big @!##@*&! deal."
Biden is known for his razor sharp recall of facts and his quick wit. Right?
WaPo? Hello?
Your editorials and the lib columnists were delirious @ the stupidity of GWB and of what an embarrassment he was to this country ... oh well.

Posted by: trevithick | June 11, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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