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Nelson Mandela on Aug. 8, 2012, left, and President Barack Obama on May 31. It was as a college student that President Barack Obama began to find his political voice. Inspired by Nelson Mandela’s struggle against South Africa’s apartheid government, Obama joined campus protests against the white racist rule that kept Mandela locked away in prison for nearly three decades. Now a historic, barrier-breaking figure himself, Obama arrived in South Africa on Friday to find a country drastically transformed by Mandela’s influence, and a nation grappling with the beloved 94-year-old’s mortality.

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Obama’s ties to Mandela loom over S. Africa visit

Inspired by Nelson Mandela’s struggles in South Africa, a young Barack Obama joined campus protests in the U.S. against the racist rule that kept Mandela locked away in prison for nearly three decades.

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