21 June 2011
It’s going to be a busy week for US First Lady Michelle Obama, who is on her first official visit to South Africa.
Obama, who landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria on Monday night, started her day on Tuesday by visiting President Jacob Zuma’s second wife, Nompumelelo Ntuli Zuma, at the President’s official residence in Pretoria.
She then proceeded to Johannesburg, where she visited to the Nelson Mandela Foundation. There she toured the Nobel Peace laureate’s archives with Mandela’s wife, former Mozambican first lady Graca Machel.
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 a respiratory infection in January.
Later in the afternoon Obama, who is travelling with her daughters Malia and Sasha and her mother Marian, was due to make a stop at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, which chronicles the history of the fight against white minority rule.
Obama has a packed schedule that includes a trip to the memorial for Hector Pieterson in Soweto on Wednesday.
She will also give a 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.
She will then jet off to Cape Town on Thursday, where she will meet with Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu before leaving for Botswana on Saturday.
The White House says the First Lady’s visit will advance her husband’s foreign policy goals.
The trip is a continuation of Michelle Obama’s work in engaging young people, especially girls and young women, at home and abroad.
“This visit to two critical countries will underscore that the United States has an important stake in the success of Africa’s many nations and underscore the historic connections between the American people and those who live on the African continent,” the US embassy in South Africa said in a statement last week.
“South Africa is a vital global partner for the United States, as political leader and economic engine on the continent, and a historic example of democratic transition in Africa and around the world.”