Not many major media outlets have reported much on world humanitarian and former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela. In fact many media outlets have been quiet on the matter. Still, that has not stopped many other sources from reporting that the world leader has passed.
Mr. Obama had hoped to visit with the former president of South Africa and Mr. Obama let it be known that he was not looking for a photo opportunity. Instead the United States President gave encouragement to the Mandela family during their time of healing.
Mr. Obama however, did visit with the Mandela family for about 25 minutes and with no media around. After speaking with the family, President Obama made this statement:
“I expressed my hope that Madiba draws peace and comfort from the time that he is spending with loved ones. I also reaffirmed the profound impact that his legacy has had in building a free South Africa, and in inspiring people around the world — including me. That’s a legacy that we must all honor in our own lives.”
The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory is an organization that keeps the legacy, hope and spirit of Mr. Mandela alive, and in their gratitude to the United States First Family. Mrs. Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela’s wife, through the site issued this statement:
“Message of thanks by Mrs Graça Machel
I have drawn strength from the support received from President Barack Obama, Michelle, Malia and Sasha.
Having taken the time to telephone me to express their solidarity and meet our children, they have added a touch of personal warmth that is characteristic of the Obama family. I am humbled by their comfort and messages of strength and inspiration which I have already conveyed to Madiba.
I wish President Obama, First Lady Michelle and their children Malia and Sasha a successful and enjoyable visit to South Africa.”
Mrs. Obama who arrived Friday (June 28) with daughters Malia and Sasha to South Africa reflected a bit on her visit to the country two years ago. In a continuing blog post on the White House website, First Lady Michelle Obama wrote this journal entry talking about her trip two years ago, a trip in which she also met with world humanitarian Nelson Mandela and the First Lady talks of her arrival on Friday:
“Today, we arrived in South Africa, and I couldn’t be more excited, because two years ago, I visited this country for the first time with my mother and daughters, and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
On that visit, I met with young women leaders from across the continent who were serving their countries and their communities – educating young people, providing job training for women, working to combat poverty and violence and disease – often in the face of impossible odds. I also had the chance to spend time with young people from here in South Africa: I danced with children at a daycare center, visited the University of Cape Town with local high school students, and took part in a children’s soccer clinic at one of the stadiums used in the 2010 World Cup.
I also had the chance to meet President Nelson Mandela at his home in Johannesburg, an experience that I will never forget. Mandela – or “Madiba” as he’s referred to in South Africa – is truly a giant in world history. As a young man, he led a movement against Apartheid – the South African government’s policies that discriminated against people of color, forcing them to live in separate neighborhoods and attend separate schools and prohibiting them from even voting in national elections. For his defiance, Mandela was jailed for 27 years, and his struggle became a source of inspiration for people all around the world.
After he was finally released from prison in 1990, Mandela worked to dismantle the Apartheid state and replace it with a full democracy – and in 1994, four years after he was released from prison, he became the South Africa’s first black President. Today, Mandela is 94 years old. As I mentioned in my first post, he’s currently in the hospital, and he is very much in my thoughts and prayers right now. He has been such a source of hope for so many people for so long, and when I reflect on Mandela’s life and legacy, I think about his courage and determination – enduring nearly three decades in jail without ever giving up on his dream of a more just and equal South Africa. It’s amazing to think about everything he’s seen during his lifetime: the horrors of Apartheid, the quiet desolation of a jail cell, but also the realization of a vibrant South African democracy. I’m so glad that he lived to see the fruits of his struggle and sacrifice – and I’m so glad that he never gave up on his dream of a better country and a better world for future generations. As President Mandela once said, “Our children are the rock on which our future will be built.”
That’s exactly how I feel as well. And that’s why, during my time in South Africa, I’m going to once again reach out to as many young people as I can – and I’m going to try to connect these young people with young people back home in America as well. Because I know that if young people like you all can share your stories and learn from each other’s experiences, then we’ll all be able to keep moving forward, and together, we’ll be able to build upon Nelson Mandela’s legacy for years to come.”
First Lady Michelle Obama’s trip itinerary was recently posted and it includes a Google+ hangout with young adults, talking about the importance of education. Mrs. Obama’s remaining schedule is as follows:
Saturday, June 29 – The President and First Lady will visit Pretoria, South Africa, where the First Lady will meet with Mrs. Tobeka S. Zuma, First Lady of South Africa.
Later in the afternoon in Johannesburg, Mrs. Obama will host a conversation with youth, organized in conjunction with MTV Base, an African youth and music TV channel, and Google+. The First Lady will be joined by teenagers from across South Africa, as well as students joining virtually in cities around the U.S. via Google+ Hangouts, including in L.A., Kansas City, New York City, and Houston.
Watch this event live: WH.gov/FLOTUSinAfrica & the White House Google+ page
-In the evening, the First Lady will join the President for a dinner hosted by President Zuma.
Sunday, June 30 – First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to Cape Town, South Africa, where she will visit Robben Island with the President.
Monday, July 1 – Mrs. Obama will meet with Mrs. Salma Kikwete, First Lady of Tanzania, and visit the Embassy Bombing Memorial.
The First Lady will attend a performance by the Baba wa Watoto troupe, part of a center that serves underprivileged boys and girls between the ages of five and 18 years old.
In the evening, she will join the President for a dinner with President Kikwete.
Tuesday, July 2 – The First Lady will participate in the African First Ladies Summit: “Investing in Women: Strengthening Africa,” hosted by the George W. Bush Institute. At the Summit, African First Ladies from across the continent will gather to focus on the important role First Ladies play in promoting women’s education, health and economic empowerment
-Kelly J Newson