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.