Hollywood hits Houghton – no wait, it’s Obama

2013-06-30 14:00

The residents of Houghton in Johannesburg are getting used to being in the news.

After all, one of their neighbours is former president Nelson Mandela, and his ill health means there’s been a steady stream of well-wishers and journalists in and out of the leafy suburb.

But yesterday the action ratcheted up to a whole new level when American President Barack Obama and a cavalcade of stony-faced Secret Service agents rolled into town.

Obama made an unannounced visit to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, spending half an hour there and reportedly meeting some of Mandela’s family.

A portion of the road outside the centre temporarily closed off and people lined the sidewalk, curiously watching a grey-suited Secret Service agent who was guarding the entrance.

“I keep expecting Jack Bauer of (TV series) 24 to pop out,” joked one onlooker.

When the superlimousine bearing Obama to the event at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus eventually turned out of the driveway, a cheer went up and everyone waved.

An obliging Obama returned the wave with a grin.

“He was so cool,” gushed one onlooker, while another commented “how much more grey” Obama had become in the five years since he first became US president.

Obama was gone in a flash, but there were certainly no protesters amongst the impromptu crowd in Houghton – just ordinary South Africans happy to have caught a glimpse of that famous smile

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