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South Africa

Nelson Mandela meets US first lady at his home

Reuters/Charles Dharapak

US First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters met with 92-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela on Tuesday on the first leg of a six-day visit to southern Africa.

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The meeting took place after a visit by Obama to the Mandela Foundation where she was given a guided tour by Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, of an exhibition chronicling the 27 years Mandela spent as a political prisoner at Robben Island.

US President Barack Obama first met Mandela in 2006 when, as a senator, he toured Africa, but this was the first time his wife had met the man who led the country’s anti-apartheid struggle.

Obama, her daughters, mother, a niece and nephew were all welcomed into Mandela's home in the Houghton neighbourhood of Johannesburg. Visits are increasingly rare since Mandela was hospitalised with an acute respiratory infection in January.

On Wednesday, the first lady will visit the memorial for Hector Pieterson, a 12-year-old boy who was killed during the anti-apartheid Soweto uprising in 1976. Later she will give the keynote address at a conference of the Young African Women Leaders Forum.

Obama is then set to travel to the former prison at Robben Island on Thursday and meet Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu in Cape Town before heading to neighbouring Botswana for a safari on Saturday.

The visit is her second official trip to sub-Saharan Africa, after a 24-hour stop in Ghana with her husband in 2009.

Obama made her first solo trip as first lady last year, stopping briefly in Haiti before continuing on to Mexico for a three-day visit.

 

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