Up to 900 guests packed into the EICC venue in anticipation of hearing Ms Obama shed light on her time as First Lady during a conversation moderated by five-time Olympic medallist Dame Katherine Grainger. Yeah, that's right. Don't you get a sense sometimes - again, I'm ad-libbing here - that these people who are so intent on putting people down and puffing themselves up that they're small-hearted, that there's something they're just afraid of.
But Obama made several remarks that came across as thinly veiled criticism of Trump, who during a summit in Helsinki just the day before appeared to place more trust in Russian President Vladimir Putin than in the United States intelligence officials who concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 USA election.
With a thinly veiled reference to his successor Donald Trump, Obama opened by remarking on the "strange and uncertain times we are in...and they are very unusual". We see the utter loss of shame among political leaders where they're caught in a lie and they just double down and they lie some more.
"Madiba shows that those who believe in democracy and economic equality will have to fight harder", Obama said.
Former US President Barack Obama speaks during the 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg. —AFP
Obama rallied the crowd in Johannesburg to respect human rights and keep Mandela's ideas alive, at a time of threats to tear down what's been built over the last few decades.
In addition to old power structures, Obama said that the progress of humanity had obscured "signs of a brewing backlash", including terrorism. And yes, democracy can be messy, and it can be slow, and it can be frustrating. "To believe that recent shifts in global politics are too powerful to push back against".
Obama speaks to Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel during the memorial service for the former South African president at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg on December 10, 2013. Without facts there is no basis for cooperation.
Many South Africans view Obama as a successor to Mandela because of his groundbreaking role and his support for racial equality in the USA and around the world. We have to resist that cynicism.More news: Amanaki Mafi appears in court after incident with teammate
"Women in particular, by the way, I want you to get more involved", Obama said in footage shared by CNN.
Obama also encouraged tolerance for people with different views, urging his audience not to "disregard what your opponents have to say from the start". "We've been through lower valleys", and he closed with a call to action: "I say if people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love".
I feel like when people are seeking relevance or can not deal with their own shortcomings, they take a shot at him because he is no longer there to defend himself.
The South African Ambassador to the Holy See, George Johannes, has held many prestigious roles, including positions of authority within the government of Nelson Mandela - South Africa's first democratically elected President.More news: A repeat of 2002? Walmart may be looking to copy Netflix again
This is Obama's first visit to Africa since leaving office in early 2017.
Obama pivoted to specific issues like the immigration crisis boiling over at the U.S. - Mexico border and Trump's gleeful shredding of objective truth in favor of political expediency.More news: Secret Service agent died on Trump trip abroad, body returning to US