US first lady sets South Africa, Botswana schedule
US First Lady Michelle Obama will meet key figures in South Africa's anti-apartheid struggle including Archbishop Desmond Tutu during her upcoming one-week visit to the continent, the White House said Wednesday.
The wife of President Barack Obama travels to the South African cities of Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town, as well as the Botswanan capital Gaborone, during the June 20-26 trip “focused on youth leadership, education, health and wellness,” the White House said.
She will be accompanied by several members of her family including daughters Malia and Sasha, but her President Obama will not be among them, and the program released by her office had no scheduled meeting with former South African president Nelson Mandela.
The human rights champion who served as his nation’s first post-apartheid leader is 92 years old and in fragile health.
The first lady meets the wife of President Jacob Zuma on June 21 in Pretoria and then travels to Johannesburg to visit the Nelson Mandela Foundation and receive a tour from Mandela’s wife, the humanitarian and former Mozambican first lady Graca Machel.
She will also visit the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, and on June 22 she heads to the Soweto township’s Regina Mundi Church to deliver the keynote address to a forum for young African women leaders.
The church became a national symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle during the deadly Soweto student uprising of June 1976.
On June 23 in Cape Town, she visits Robben Island, the notorious prison where Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years behind bars.
She meets Tutu, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, a decade before the fall of South Africa’s racist regime, at a soccer stadium that served as a venue during last year’s football World Cup.
Obama is scheduled to meet with groups using soccer as a means to combat HIV and AIDS in South Africa, and the first lady is expected to take to the pitch to join in drills with girls and boys from the Cape Town area.
She wraps up her southern Africa trip with a June 24-26 visit to Botswana, where she meets President Ian Khama and visits a children’s clinic.