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At Johannesburg Pub, Obama Inspires Americans And South Africans Alike

It was a two-tiered crowd Tuesday night at Giles Restaurant, a British-style pub and eatery in a Northern Johannesburg neighborhood.

Upstairs, a collection of American expatriates, sympathetic South Africans and interested Europeans watched intently the broadcast of Obama’s inauguration ceremony, applauding his appearance and his message of hope and reconciliation.

Downstairs, the regulars who come to Giles to wind down after work were also watching. Pierre Marais, who was having a drink with his friend Rodney Cook, said he expects Obama to be too busy with his domestic agenda to be very active on the African scene. Nonetheless, Obama is a role model for all South Africans, he said.

“Brilliant man,” Marais said. “Definitely what America needs.”

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