Johannesburg: US First Lady Michelle
Obama visited former South African president Nelson Mandela at
his home today during the first full day of a six-day visit to
southern Africa, his foundation said.
Obama, who arrived in South Africa late yesterday,
visited Mandela's charitable foundation and archives Tuesday
and took a tour with the Nobel Peace Prize winner's wife, the
humanitarian and former Mozambican first lady Graca Machel.
Obama then paid a "brief courtesy call" on Mandela at
his nearby Johannesburg home, said Achmat Dangor, the head of
The first lady, who was wearing a coral suit with
collarless jacket and a bright print blouse, was accompanied
by her mother, Marian Robinson, her daughters, Malia and
Sasha, and a niece and nephew.
Mandela, who became South Africa's first black
president in 1994 after leading the fight against apartheid,
is increasingly frail at 92.
He has been under home medical care since he was
hospitalised with an acute respiratory infection in January.
Dangor said the foundation does not comment on
Mandela's health, but added: "He must be well enough to
receive his visitor".
The White House has emphasised the importance to the
first family of South Africa's struggle against white-minority
rule, which President Barack Obama has called his first
White House officials accompanying the first lady said
Mandela's office at the foundation had a photo hanging on the
wall of then senator Obama meeting Mandela in 2005.
This was the first lady's first meeting with the
Obama and her family spent about an hour in Mandela's
office with members of his family, then spent some 20 minutes
with the foundation's chief historian looking at Mandela's
notes and diaries from the 27 years he spent in prison.
The foundation presented the first lady with a
soon-to-be-published book of Mandela's quotations.
The foundation said in a statement that Obama
expressed appreciation for the display and told employees:
"You are doing very important work."
First Published: Wednesday, June 22, 2011, 00:42