Eschewing poetic language for rhetorical power, Obama cited the accomplishments of the past four years while laying out a progressive agenda for the next four that would tackle thorny issues like gun control, climate change and immigration reform.
“We have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action,” he said.
“My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment and we will seize it so long as we seize it together,” he added later.
Analysts called the speech politically astute and an important expression of new forcefulness by the president as he enters his second term following re-election last November.
“It’s a real declaration of conscience, about principles, about what he believes in,” said CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen. “He basically said, ‘When I came in the first term, we had all these emergencies, we had these wars. We’ve now started to clear the decks. Let’s talk about what’s essential.'”
Meanwhile, South Africa had its own representatives in the form of celebrated exponents such as Bra Hugh Masekela, award winner Micasa and songstress Lira, who wowed the crowd alongside curvaceous Beyonce, Alicia Keys and others.