News24

Michelle Obama pays homage to Mandela

2011-06-21 14:06

Johannesburg - US First Lady Michelle Obama set out on the first day of a South African tour on Tuesday to pay homage to former president Nelson Mandela and the struggle against apartheid.

Having arrived in Pretoria late on Monday, Obama will visit Mandela's charitable foundation and tour the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's archives with his wife - humanitarian and former Mozambican first lady Graça Machel, the White House said.

She will also visit the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, which chronicles the history of the fight against apartheid.

The first lady is travelling with her daughters, Malia and Sasha, and her mother, Marian Robinson - but not her husband, US President Barack Obama.

Obama’s first political cause


The White House has emphasised the importance of South Africa's anti-apartheid struggle to the first family, which President Obama has called his first political cause.

US officials say the American president has periodic telephone contact with Mandela.

It was unclear whether the first lady would meet the 92-year-old icon, who is in frail health and has been under home medical care since he was hospitalised with an acute respiratory infection in January.

The US state department said it had been told that Madiba is not receiving visitors.

"It's our understanding that Madiba does not see people anymore," Elizabeth Trudeau, spokesperson at the US embassy in Pretoria, told AFP.

Mandela's foundation did not rule out a visit but said it does not release details on his schedule.

US officials are describing Obama's trip - a six-day tour that will also include stops in Cape Town and the Botswana capital, Gaborone - as her first major solo overseas trip as first lady.

The visit is her second official trip to sub-Saharan Africa, after a 24-hour stop in Ghana with her husband in 2009.

Packed schedule


Obama made her first solo trip as first lady last year, stopping briefly in Haiti before continuing on to Mexico for a three-day visit.

Pictures of Obama's late-night arrival were splashed across the pages of newspapers on Tuesday. The first lady stepped off the plane in a bright orange and black sweater that White House officials said was by Nigerian-British designer Duro Olowu.

She started her visit with a Tuesday morning meeting with one of President Jacob Zuma's three wives, Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, in Pretoria, before setting off for visits to the Mandela Foundation, the Apartheid Museum and a day care centre.

Obama has a packed schedule that also includes a trip to the memorial for Hector Pieterson on Wednesday, a meeting with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu in Cape Town on Thursday and a safari in Botswana on Saturday.

On Wednesday she will also give the keynote address at a conference of the Young African Women Leaders Forum, a two-day meeting of 75 women aged 16 to 30 who are playing leadership roles across the continent.

Comments
  • willieman - 2011-06-21 14:10

    Great stuff,

  • Krush - 2011-06-21 14:11

    I hope she doesn't get hijacked while she's here.

      Steen - 2011-06-21 14:14

      some comonsense will do.

      willieman - 2011-06-21 14:17

      I hope she does not hijacked by Mossad cause her husband is calling for 1967 borders should respected

      TROLLCommentSniper - 2011-06-22 06:41

      Don't F@ck with the Yanks Because they build Big Tanks!

  • Mark - 2011-06-21 14:14

    Yanky go home !!!

      Lee - 2011-06-21 14:25

      Racist White folk in America would say she is. But don't worry about her to much Mark she will go home soon enough.

      TROLLCommentSniper - 2011-06-22 06:41

      Don't F@ck with the Yanks Because they build Big Tanks!

  • BOY30 - 2011-06-21 14:24

    Enjoy your stay in this beautiful country of ours.

  • Mugabe - 2011-06-21 14:25

    Please Mrs Obama, you mus meet Juju (Malema), he will tell you the truth about this south Africa that is said to be free and independent

  • farmworker - 2011-06-21 14:28

    Mrs Obama your visit is much appreciated

  • Newsferret - 2011-06-21 14:32

    If anything she should have paid homage to the impeccable role in reconciliation Mandela played in South Africa.

      Collen - 2011-06-21 14:33

      I'm sure she will be delighted....

  • Obama Bin Laden - 2011-06-21 14:32

    So we're supposed to feel grateful and in awe because the Hawaiian sent his squeeze to come and have her pic taken with some tribesmen from the motherland? Stay in america and leave africa to the africans

      lotus.lindi - 2011-06-21 14:49

      Aren't you supposed to be dead?? So negative, and you even have a name in common! "Africa for the africans".....well I'm sure she'll be working on that one too. Lighten up. She's just another tourist, and she'll enjoy the official ANC lines on everything, so she should go home very happy:-)

  • W H Kotze - 2011-06-21 14:43

    Hey Michelle, just don't leave your kids alone with Graca! Last time she was entrusted with children they ended up as child-soldiers for Frelimo!

      Ockert - 2011-06-21 14:58

      Just a thought - dont leave them with Winnie.

  • Zolani - 2011-06-21 14:45

    I’m glad Mrs Obama is in town at least we have a modern black woman for our children to look up to and have as role models, look how pathetic our government act, what example do they set for our children

  • TROLLCommentSniper - 2011-06-21 14:45

    Michelle Obama has come to greet Nelson Mandela, because he now has got the one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel! Click this link an look at the video and then you think again.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QADU0n2gXDA

  • TROLLCommentSniper - 2011-06-21 14:51

    She came to goodbye to Nelson Mandela, because he is on a slippery slide and the end is not in a pool it is in a grave. Click this and make your mind. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QADU0n2gXDA

  • TROLLCommentSniper - 2011-06-21 14:58

    Click this and make your mind about Nelson Mandela!!!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QADU0n2gXDA

  • cromagnon - 2011-06-21 14:59

    We are still ok, she should go check out Sudan, Somalia, Liberia, Libya, Zimbabwe......

  • York Hunt - 2011-06-21 15:00

    Why is she paying homage to Mandela? Is she communist?

  • miya7 - 2011-06-21 15:02

    hey Mich!!!I use to like you and your boyfrd Obama loko now you can go anywer you want to go beouse your boyfrd said now the wold is free ofter he killed Osama Bin Laden - but is not over""""""

  • Chris - 2011-06-21 15:13

    A tea party is in order...her,mandla,malema and the great bob mugabe....lets see what she thinks after that....get to know them well my lady and take their message to the world...good to have you here lol

      Chris - 2011-06-21 15:16

      to correct the typo before anyone says im illiterate...i meant mandela

  • Gibber Rish - 2011-06-21 15:14

    If you only go to Gauteng and W. Cape you could be forgiven for thinking we doing pretty OK here in SA.

  • ShakaN - 2011-06-21 15:39

    I know..if she is so keen on S.A and her roots why does'nt she move and come and live in Gauteng permanently.

  • MABOIPUSO - 2011-06-21 16:03

    We should have gathered all praise men and women of Africa to welcome one of us to the motherland. Mrs Obama, u are an inspiration to all African women, men and child. You renewed our self confidence and reminded us that yes, we are kings and queens by birth right and our castles are in the white house, union building and yes, it is our right to drink tea with the queen of england. as an Afican woman, im proud call you my sister, you represent , MOSADI WA MAKGONTHE (true woman), that black is beautiful and intelligent. God Bless you, your husband and your two angels. Afican Nubia

  • MABOIPUSO - 2011-06-21 16:03

    We should have gathered all praise men and women of Africa to welcome one of us to the motherland. Mrs Obama, u are an inspiration to all African women, men and child. You renewed our self confidence and reminded us that yes, we are kings and queens by birth right and our castles are in the white house, union building and yes, it is our right to drink tea with the queen of england. as an Afican woman, im proud call you my sister, you represent , MOSADI WA MAKGONTHE (true woman), that black is beautiful and intelligent. God Bless you, your husband and your two angels. Afican Nubia

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