Business, Finance & Economics

Michelle Obama visits Africa (PHOTOS)

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Traditional dancers in Gaborone, Botswana greet Michelle Obama and her family on June 24, 2011. From left to right are her mother Marian Robinson; Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning Gloria Somolekae; first lady Michelle Obama, nephew Avery Robinson, daughter Sasha Obama; niece Leslie Robinson; daughter Malia Obama.

Credit:

Charles Dharapak

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — United States first lady Michelle Obama is practicing what she preaches by traveling on her landmark journey to Africa with her mother and two daughters.

The three generations of females will emphasize Michelle Obama's initiative to highlight the importance of women in leadership positions in Africa. While in South Africa, she also honored the history of the anti-apartheid struggle.  

Though the first lady has traveled abroad solo before, the White House has promoted this six-day journey as her first major overseas trip without her husband.

South Africans were ecstatic to host Mrs. Obama and her family Monday through Friday, but the empty space alongside the first lady did not go unnoticed.  Many believe that President Obama should have lived up to his promise of supporting African countries in their struggles for financial and democratic prosperity by making a trip to Africa. Obama has only spent about a day in Africa so far in his presidency.  

On her busy agenda in Johannesburg, Mrs. Obama met with anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, 92. At their 20-minute meeting, Mandela signed a book of his quotations for the first lady while her daughters, mother, niece and nephew watched. The Obama family also visited the Apartheid Museum.

The next day they went to Soweto township where she saw the Hector Pietersen Memorial which honors the life of a teenager who was shot and killed by apartheid police. Also in Soweto, she delivered a keynote speech at the Young Women Leaders Forum at the historic Regina Mundi church. Obama inspired the women by telling them "Yes, you can!!"

Mrs. Obama also met with South Africa's first lady, Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, as well as Nelson Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, according to the International Business Times.

In Cape Town, Obama's plans to go to Robben Island were scuttled by bad weather. High winds and stormy seas stopped the ferry from taking her to the island where Nelson Mandela was jailed for most of the 27 years that he was imprisoned, reports The Washington Post.  Mrs Obama met with Nobel Peace Prize-winner Desmond Tutu in Cape Town and the two of them appeared at a rally for physical fitness at the Cape Town soccer stadium. 

In Botswana, Mrs. Obama met with President Ian Khama and visited a center that educates teenagers about leadership and HIV/AIDS. She will wrap up her trip with her family on a private safari to see Botswana's famed wildlife, including elephants.  

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    Arriving in Pretoria en route to Johannesburg, South Africa, Michelle Obama held a bouquet of flowers while daughters Malia, right, and Sasha were draped in blankets. They began their 6-day trip to Africa on Monday, June 20.

    Credit:

    Charles Dharapak

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    Sello Hatang and Sahm Venter from the Nelson Mandela Foundation presented US first lady Michelle Obama with former president Nelson Mandela's newest book titled "Nelson Mandela by Himself."

    Credit:

    Debbie Yazbek/ Nelson Mandela Foundation

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    On her first solo trip to Africa, United States first lady Michelle Obama and her daughters met former South African president Nelson Mandela, 92, at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg. From left, Sasha, Malia and Michelle Obama with Nelson Mandela.

    Credit:

    Debbie Yazbek/Nelson Mandela Foundation

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    Michelle Obama entertains children while she takes turns with daughters Sasha, left, and Malia by reading "The Cat in the Hat" by Dr. Seuss during their visit to the Emthonjeni Community Center in Zandspruit Township, Johannesburg, South Africa on Tuesday, June 21, 2011.

    Credit:

    Charles Dharapak

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    Michelle Obama hugs Antoinette Sithole, the sister of Hector Pieterson, who was killed when he was 12 in the 1976 Soweto student uprising against the apartheid regime. Obama and Sithole together laid a wreath in memory of Pieterson at his memorial in the township of Soweto on June 22, 2011.

    Credit:

    Stephane de Sakutin

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    Outside the Hector Pieterson Memorial, children greet Mrs. Obama with homemade signs on June 22, 2011. The signs read "We love you Mrs. Obama" and "Welcome to South Africa."

    Credit:

    Stephane de Sakutin

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    Michelle Obama, her mother Marian Robinson, left, and daughers Sasha and Malia visited the District Six museum in Cape Town, South Africa on June 23, 2011. They met former resident Noor Ebrahim who explained his time in the district. During the apartheid government, District Six became a white-only living area, resulting in the displacement of 60,000 black residents who instantly became homeless.

    Credit:

    Charles Dharapak

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    Michelle Obama had fun doing push ups with Archbishop Desmond Tutu at Cape Town Stadium. The two leaders participated in youth events to raise awareness for HIV prevention on Thursday, June 23, 2011.

    Credit:

    Charles Dharapak

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    Traditional dancers in Gaborone, Botswana greet Michelle Obama and her family on June 24, 2011. From left to right are her mother Marian Robinson; Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning Gloria Somolekae; first lady Michelle Obama, nephew Avery Robinson, daughter Sasha Obama; niece Leslie Robinson; daughter Malia Obama.

    Credit:

    Charles Dharapak

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    While in Gaborone, Botswana, Mrs. Obama met with Botswana President Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama on June 24, 2011.

    Credit:

    Charles Dharapak