Michelle Obama visits Mandela

2011-06-21 14:58

Johannesburg - US First Lady Michelle Obama met former president Nelson Mandela at his home on Tuesday, in a rare visit with the ageing icon whose legacy frames much of her journey here.

The meeting with the 92-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner was discreetly arranged after Obama and her daughters visited archives chronicling some of his 27 years as a political prisoner.

At the Mandela Foundation, his wife Graça Machel guided Obama, her mother, and her daughters Malia and Sasha through an exhibit of his personal photographs and journals, in which he meticulously drafted letters but also kept more mundane notes on his weight and daily routine.

"After leaving here, she proceeded to make a brief courtesy call on former president Mandela," said Achmat Dangor, the head of the foundation, calling the first lady "a lovely woman without any airs".

Their visit added to the symbolism surrounding Obama's journey, with America's first black family in the White House meeting South Africa's first black president.

President Barack Obama has called the anti-apartheid struggle his first political cause, and US officials say he has had periodic telephone contact with Mandela.

The two men met in 2006 when then-senator Obama toured Africa. A simple cellphone picture of that meeting is now in Mandela's office, aides to the first lady said.

Mandela welcomed her entire family into his home, including a niece and nephew travelling with them.

Such visits are increasingly rare. Mandela, who turns 93 next month, has received few guests since he was hospitalised with an acute respiratory infection in January.

Mandela's legacy in the battle for South African democracy defines much of Obama's visit. After leaving his home in the leafy Houghton neighbourhood, they travelled to the Apartheid Museum, which chronicles the rise and fall of white rule.

She was set on Wednesday to visit the memorial for Hector Pieterson - a 12-year-old boy killed during the anti-apartheid Soweto uprising in 1976.

On Thursday she planned to see Mandela's former prison at Robben Island and meet Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu in Cape Town, before heading to neighbouring Botswana for a safari on Saturday.

On Wednesday Obama will also give the keynote address at a conference of the Young African Women Leaders Forum, a two-day meeting of young women who are playing leadership roles across the continent.

Earlier on Tuesday, Obama met briefly with one of President Jacob Zuma's three wives, Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, and a group of some 100 invitees in Pretoria.

Zimbabwean media magnate Trevor Ncube, who was at the event, said on Twitter that Obama had taken the time to meet each of the guests personally.

"She took time to talk to all one-on-one. Awesome!!" said the publisher, who owns some of the region's top newspapers.

South African actress and TV hostess Precious Kofi, who was also at the event, Tweeted that Obama was "warm, sincere and just lovely".

"From kings to ministers and then myself, Mrs Obama gave each individual her undivided attention," she said.

US officials are describing the trip 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.

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.

  • Cyril - 2011-06-21 15:11

    Yip, Well. I hope she is aware that we are entering into the throes of destruction in South Africa. It won't be possible to visit here in 5 years time!!!

      Daemos1 - 2011-06-21 15:13

      who took the jam out of your dougnut?

      Mulondo - 2011-06-21 15:16

      only in subconscious of the mentally challenged lives such imaginations. maybe with the likes of you still around here and not immigrating to OZ, your silly premonitions might come true.

      miya7 - 2011-06-21 15:19

      it will be better in 5yrs to come than before democracy so to not mind ask Bhotha

      farmworker - 2011-06-21 20:50

      Americans are abusing their power now. Michelle Obama had to use Chevrolet, I mean we using Mercedes Benz or BMW for VIPs, and what is the use of her visiting if South African Journalists are not allowed to take her photos but only the American, I mean we can hardly see her in the news

      Larro - 2011-06-22 04:39

      Cyril, I would imagine she neither knows nor cares that SA is going down the toilet. If you travel outside SA, you will see that the ongoing ANC corruption, murders, assaults, rapes and hate spewing from the likes of malema do not make the news at all. Most Americans can't even point out SA on a map. Meeting Mandela is simply a tick in the box for her (and her husband by association). People like this do NOTHING without reason, and I am sure this meeting will improve her likeability ratings back in the USA, when she makes much of her 'wonderful experience' next time she appears on talk show. After all, Mr Obama needs as much help as he can get, he has proven to be a NATO president (No Action, Talk Only).

  • Colin - 2011-06-21 15:12

    Deeply touching and filled with true, real & honest human connectivity. It is a pleasure to witness such centre stage figures recognising the need to connect with their intuative being, to touch for the last time a vestige of our exceptional past and brilliant future. Mandela's spirit, his countinence and just simple being would have touched the First Lady and her family profoundly. In a world of hostile relationships, broken promises and ill fitting guises, it is good to read of this event.

      Dominic - 2011-06-21 16:11

      She should have some fun with the Arch. I respect Nelson but Desmond inspires.

      USSA - 2011-06-21 20:04

      What on earth are you people driveling about? Michelle Obama has no roots in Africa except her colour - by association, and she hangs (in association) with Winnie, her being the first black "First Lady" in SA. As for the is all a bunch of hogwash. Barack is failing in his task as Mandela failed in his.

      Larro - 2011-06-22 04:41

      Wow - you are truly filled with butterflies and rosebuds. Can I have some of whatever it is you are taking?

      York Hunt - 2011-06-22 08:19

      @Colleen (sic). Oh please! I can just imagine you wiping a tear from the corner of your eye while writing that comment.

  • zulufox - 2011-06-21 15:20

    there are people who have been on the list for decades to see Madiba... this is a bit unfair...

      Totman - 2011-06-21 15:39

      Clearly we are not that important.

      horsehair - 2011-06-21 16:16

      Oh Shame Zulu, and I wonder why she didn't rush to meet Malema?

      Renny - 2011-06-21 16:24

      Hope she stops off at Julius Malema's place, maybe she can talk some sense into that thick skull of his.

      Larro - 2011-06-22 04:43

      Renny - sorry, NOT gonna happen - neither the visit or talking sense into his thick skull.

  • cooked - 2011-06-21 15:22

    please god someone tell me that she will not be visiting with malema. i don't think i could stand the embarrassment

      miya7 - 2011-06-21 15:39

      Malema is president of the youth af SA like it or not does DA have one

      Cacophony82 - 2011-06-21 15:53

      @miya7 - I am South African and a youth by definition and I can tell you with absolute certainty he is not my president, nor will he ever be.

      Virginia - 2011-06-21 16:03

      miya7, what do the youth want to do with a president, get on with your school work, helping your mother, respecting your elders and giving much time to doing good for someone else. Julius Malema is evil and will take you down with him, you can become him very easy, stay at home eat the fat of the land and steal as much as you can from the citizens he is supposed to help.

      WC Republic - 2011-06-21 16:08

      Well there's some stories around that beneath all the smiles and pleasantries she's quite the racist. I wouldn't be surprised if she invites Malema to the white house. Let's just hope he doesn't trash the hotel room.

      KnysnaSha - 2011-06-21 16:42

      Yes the DA does have a youth league.

      kidblack - 2011-06-21 16:48

      @miya7 : the only president malema has is wiping R100 000 000 000 - 00 a year from FDI in our country.

      miya7 - 2011-06-21 17:01

      I DO CARE HOW MUCH YOU HATE OUT OUTSPOKEN BLACKS THE FACT REMAIN YOU CAN FOOL SOME BLACKS BUT YOU CAN NOT FOOL ALL.@ Cocophny82 I undurstand you are a SAcn by definition thas WHY@Virginia your former president is cool BHOTHA you know whatlet me remind you(WHITE ONLY).(NO BLACKS ALLOWED)THS WHY REF;TO ALL

      Cacophony82 - 2011-06-21 17:46

      @Miya7 - I don't care whether the president is black, white, pink, yellow, orange, green or blue as long as he/she delivers. I don't care for the past either, because what is done is done and cannot be undone, so to hold onto things you cannot change, is to stop living in the present and hoping for the future. Grow up and get over it. There are many people on this planet who have gone through a lot worse than what the black people in this country have and still found it within themselves to move forward, so I don't care for your whining at all. I'm not saying that what happened wasn't wrong, but jeez you are free to stop feeling surrounded by the color of your self-esteem. What I am saying is that I am a South African and a youth seeing as I am not 35 years of age yet. This together with the fact that Malema might be the president of the ANCYL, but I am not a member of the ANCYL he is not my president. What I am also saying is that Malema is such an idiot, he will most probably get himself killed by some silly person before he could ever become the president of the country, so in that regard he will never be my president either. I definitely don't hate you or him, because to me hate is an emotion that is beneath my intellectual capacity and something I don't waste my energy on. If you want to spend your time feeling done in by everybody around you, you go right ahead, because you're just wasting your life on the negative and that is your choice to make. Peace

      USSA - 2011-06-21 20:06

      @Miya Malema is the president of his own circus only.

      Johnny Sober - 2011-06-22 01:22

      I agree with you, but what different embarrassment would that be from visiting Mandela? Malema is nothing different today than what Mandela was in his up-and-coming days. In fact: Malema has not yet run around with AK47s, limpet mines etc, so he's not yet as bad as what Mandela was.

      Larro - 2011-06-22 04:46

      @Johnny Sober - possibly, but Mandela had some redeeming qualities - educated and arcticulate, he has demonstrated a concilatory approach for the good of SA to bind people together. malema has NONE of these qualities, he is a bitter, ignorant, uneducated, hate filled lump of dough and is only interested in self promotion and filling his own pockets.

      Mike - 2011-06-22 12:29

      @Miya7 - if you lift your tinted glasses you will know about the leadership of the DA Youth League - - but typical - you don't! How effing pathetic!

  • crocoros - 2011-06-21 15:35

    Michelle Obama epitomises class, style and charisma. She is elegant, suave and as a first lady carries herself well. She is such a breath of fresh air. She is a power house and so down to earth.

      WC Republic - 2011-06-21 16:11

      Yeah I thought she was lovely too, till I read her thesis

      americist___ - 2011-06-21 16:36

      Do you now anything about this woman, other than that she is black?

      kidblack - 2011-06-21 16:51

      @americist : elegance knows no color. when she walks into a room, even the eskimos look up from their holes.

      USSA - 2011-06-21 20:10

      She is a nobody, and so is her husband. He was elected to make America politically the blacks, cause they cannot help themselves. He has achieved nothing but failure...go figure if you see that his popularity in the USA has dwindled to nearly 40% only. Talk is cheap!

  • Dowwe Duane - 2011-06-21 15:36

    Obama is not the first black president in the whitehouse. He is as white as he is black! White mom

      willieman - 2011-06-21 15:42


      KnysnaSha - 2011-06-21 16:45

      That is true Dowwe. He has a lot of white in him.

      kidblack - 2011-06-21 16:57

      actually, he's about 13% Native American, 16% Spanish (Mediterranean), 34% African, 18% Asian, 12% Eskimo, and 17% American. point is, he can launch cruise missiles and we are left commenting on this silly forum.

      Mulondo - 2011-06-21 17:31

      your point?

      King Msendi - 2011-06-21 17:51

      Can we leave this blackness and whiteness behind… It is only the skin colours. We are all human beings after all!!!

      Mike - 2011-06-22 12:36

      @KingM - but it is blacks who have nothing and then cling onto the likes of Obama, Tiger Woods (golf), Hamilton (F1), etc BUT and a BIG BUT - neither of them are black! LoL!

  • Zolani - 2011-06-21 15:37

    What an embarrassment the new anc is, that Mrs Obama has to meet our old president, because our current lot are so useless

      WC Republic - 2011-06-21 16:12


      horsehair - 2011-06-21 16:17

      Goes without saying.

      Larro - 2011-06-22 04:52

      @Zolani - really - she is not visiting with Zooma? - kind of a slap in the face for the current 'leadership' - not so? Maybe she's heard he has 10 wives and does not want to be number 11? Or maybe she knows he can't keep it in his pants and has heard about his 'AIDS prevention by shower' strategy.

      Mike - 2011-06-22 12:36

      Shet met 3 of his wives - where is the fourth one? Out spending the citizen's millions?

  • SPACEBOI - 2011-06-21 15:40

    @troll..dont joke at Gods creation.

  • longgone - 2011-06-21 16:05

    She will be like all the others that visit. They now have found their Roots. Her ancestors now have relocated to South Africa. Michale Jackson and co. Now she is having some dinner with some women organization. I wonder what she will promise. Looking at CNN ( Communist News Network ) this morning she brought her whole family. What a joke, Enjoy the Whitehouse while you can as this will never happen again.At the moment she is spending the taxpayers money. I wonder if she will state anything usefull. As for Mandela. Leave him be, at least when he was running the country things went well. Then came the circus and the clowns. Now disaster!

  • Dominic - 2011-06-21 16:27

    What a miserable bunch of negative comments. Whatever happened to South African hospitality and good will?

      Larro - 2011-06-22 06:51

      hospitality and good will has been replaced by dispair and cynicism caused by over application of ANC corruption, crime and hate.

      Mike - 2011-06-22 12:38

      @Larro - give that man a Bells!

  • americist___ - 2011-06-21 16:35

    These two have completely opposing ideas concerning race relations. I am so happy that the American taxpayer get to pay for her, her mother and cousins to visit this man. Michelle Obama is a racist, un-American B(&^*&

      kidblack - 2011-06-21 17:02

      She's got a private jet the size of your house. So I would go have another brandy if i was you.

  • AraBilly - 2011-06-21 16:42

    Quite Honestly, who cares anymore. She got her tick in the box for her Roots and CV - is this gonna afect one iota of the poor man in the street? Nah! To much to hope for.

      kidblack - 2011-06-21 17:04

      It must be claustrophobic experiencing your view.

  • Just - 2011-06-21 16:47

    This article consists of inconsistent facts..This Obama Lady go to Qunu to see Mandela or did she got Houghton to see where Mandela lives..poor are trying hard give us too much stories in one page which results into a lot of confusion..How was this article approved is beyond my thoughts..

      Mike - 2011-06-22 12:40

      The days of editing has gone by the way . . .

  • Analyst - 2011-06-21 18:48

    Did she also visit the Stompie Moeketsi memorial? Oh wait....

      Ross - 2011-06-21 20:06

      What about Andries Tatane from Ficksburg?

  • Eeland - 2011-06-21 22:58

    100% correct; Malema is like "Madiba" as Winnie said, and he will be the “Madiba” of our times.... I see there is this stupid tendency by "whites" using African names to disguise as if they are Africans supporting white ideas!!, we are too clever for that rubbish, like " Sipho Thabalala ". The spelling and name are not even correct! Even a fool can read that this is a ‘Afrikaans speaking person’ who wrote this. The notion that Africans are not skilled, is again a myth, what Africans need and demand now is the space to use their skill, and the oppressor must not comment, but pack their stinking bags and look East south (OZ)!

      JJ - 2011-06-22 06:09

      Idiot! And don't talk about spelling... Maybe you should look up your avatar's correct spelling... Eland?? So maybe Sipho is not as white as you think he is!! HAHA!

      Larro - 2011-06-22 07:00

      Eish! These white tendencies!

      York Hunt - 2011-06-22 11:03

      @ Eeland. Winnie, Malema, Madiba - they're all communists..

  • Zupta - 2011-06-22 08:16

    She needs to talk some sense to the ANC as well.

  • York Hunt - 2011-06-22 08:24

    4 666 4 Wisdom is needed here; one who understands can calculate the number of the beast, for it is a number that stands for a person. His number is six hundred and sixty-six (666).

      Mike - 2011-06-22 12:46

      It is amazing how things turn out - that an unbeliever (he cannot be known as an atheist) has been given the devils number - truth well told?

  • biskit - 2011-06-22 08:37

    This Lady is incredible - She's here to restore peace in the minds of SA

      miya7 - 2011-06-22 12:07

      we do not want peace all we need our land back to us

      Mike - 2011-06-22 12:48

      @miya7 - it is NOT your land bitch! Get that into your effing thick skull! Where do you come from - were you hatched from under a pig? Your diatribe is enough to make any learned man puke!

  • Tumelo - 2011-06-22 12:43

    it's an honour to be visited by Mrs Obama, and I wish you success in your research, we love you ....

  • Ou SA - 2011-06-25 07:11

    A real KFC feast was at hand I take it...

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