Michelle Obama Visits South Africa

Scheduled to touch down at Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria on Monday June 20, Michelle Obama’s visit to South Africa will focus on young people, particularly with regard to education, leadership and wellness. Mrs. Obama will be accompanied by her daughters, Sasha and Malia, as well as her mother Mrs. Marian Robinson, and her niece and nephew, Avery and Leslie Robinson. As the First Lady of the most powerful country in the world, and an educated and influential person in her own right, Michelle Obama’s viewpoints and opinions are well respected, and it is anticipated that her visit will strengthen ties between the United States and South Africa – both on a social and a political level.

Tuesday’s itinerary for Mrs. Obama and her family will include a visit to the official residence of the South African president, Jacob Zuma, where she will meet with one of the president’s wives before going on to attend a reception at the United States Embassy. Later in the day they will visit the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, where they will meet with Graca Machel – an advocate for the rights of women and children and the wife of Nelson Mandela. The Obama entourage will end the day with a visit to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, which presents an in-depth look at the notorious system that was brought to an end in 1994.

Wednesday’s schedule includes Mrs. Obama addressing the U.S. sponsored Young African Women Leaders Forum at the Regina Mundi Church in Soweto. Forum members who will be attending include young women from a number of sub-Saharan African countries who are actively involved in social and economic programs in their home countries. The church is significant in the history of South Africa, and particularly for the Soweto community, as it was used as a gathering place during apartheid when political gatherings were banned. The visit to Soweto will include a tour of the Hector Pieterson Memorial – a moving tribute to an era of uprising against apartheid. Mrs. Obama and her family depart for Cape Town on Wednesday evening.

On their first day in Cape Town, the Obama entourage will meet with the employees of the United States Consulate before touring Robben Island, the prison where former President Nelson Mandela spent 18 of the 27 years he was incarcerated. The program for the day includes Mrs. Obama interacting with youths from local schools who will have the opportunity of spending the day at the University of Cape Town exploring their options for the future. The day’s program will end with Mrs. Obama joining a group of young people at the Cape Town Soccer Stadium for a variety of activities. On Friday morning, Mrs. Obama and her family will depart for Botswana from Cape Town International Airport ending a much anticipated visit to South Africa –hopefully the first of many.