Yesterday, Monday June 20th, First Lady Michelle Obama began her first official state visit to Africa. Unaccompanied by her husband, President Obama, Michelle hopes to use this trip to strengthen diplomatic relations between the United States and Africa- a continent whose people have felt neglected under Obama's presidency. Mrs. Obama, who is a huge supporter of women's rights, hopes to engage the young women of Africa to promote equality and progress.
After landing at Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria, the administrative and de facto national capital of South Africa, Mrs. Obama, her daughters Sasha and Malia, and her mother Marian Robinson, commenced their five-day trip. They head to Cape Town on Thursday and end their tour in Gaborone, Botswana. The aim of Obama's tour is to engage with young people, especially girls and women, who play prominent roles in academic life and civic leadership, while also furthering awareness on health and wellness issues such as health care, education and HIV/AIDS prevention programs.
Michelle Obama's TRIP ITINERARY:
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Pretoria, South Africa and Johannesburg, South Africa
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Johannesburg, South Africa
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Cape Town, South Africa
Friday, June 24, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Mrs. Obama devoted time to the checkered history of South Africa when she visited the Johannesburg Apartheid Museum. Later on in the trip, she will visit Robben Island Prison Museum in Cape Town, where Nelson Mandela and other apartheid leaders were once imprisoned. Mrs. Obama also met with Mandela's wife, the humanitarian and former Mozambican first lady, Graca Machel.
Mrs. Obama is also expected to meet with South African President Jacob Zuma and Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. While in South Africa she will visit Soweto, a city developed as a township for black people under the apartheid system, and the site of the 2010 World Cup.
The highlight of her trip will be her keynote speech at a US-sponsored young African women's leadership forum in South Africa. Attendees will discuss the accomplishments of female Sub-Saharan African countries who are involved in social and economic initiatives. A number of young women leaders will also be in attendance.
After a safari, she is scheduled to depart from the Botswana capital of Gaborone on Sunday.
This trip is not the First Lady's first foray into humanitarianism or public initiatives. On her first trip abroad in April 2009, she toured a cancer ward In England with Sarah Brown, wife of then BPM Gordon Brown. Since the election, she has begun advocating on behalf of military families and returning veterans. She is also a supporter of the organic food movement, planting an organic garden and installing bee hives on the South Lawn of the White House. But, she is perhaps most famous for her administration-wide initiative to reverse childhood obesity worldwide. Her movement, Let's Move encourages young people to to get healthy through exercise and a healthy diet.
This is Mrs. Obama's fourth time visiting Africa, but these are her first stops in South Africa and Botswana.
The White House blog will be updating the First Lady's progress, posting links, photos and blog posts of the trip; you can follow along at, http://www.whitehouse.gov/youngafrica .
You can also track her trip on Facebook and Twitter by using the #YoungAfrica hashtag. Because her visit will focus so much on the youth in Africa, networks like MTV and BET are covering Mrs. Obama's visit. Check their websites for special shows and coverage.