Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Michelle Obama in 2012 retraces part of Sen. Obama's 2006 South Africa trip

| No Comments

obama south africa2.JPG
Then Sen. Barack Obama at the Apartheid Museum. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

michelle africa soweto.jpgFirst Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha at the Apartheid Museum. (White House photo)

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama's South Africa visit retraces some of the stops then Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) made when he visited the nation in 2006.

A big difference--Mrs. Obama was given an official welcome--as befits the spouse of a head of state--while Obama in 2006 could not even get a meeting with the then South African president.

Obama left Washington on Aug. 18, 2006, to fly to Cape Town on an official congressional visit that would end Sept. 3 in Chad. Soon after arriving in Cape Town, Obama publicly criticized the South African government as being in "denial" for advocating nutritional treatments over medical alternatives to treat HIV/AIDS.

Obama criticism of South African President Thabo Mbeki's HIV/AIDS treatment policies a day before he hoped to meet with him -- meant the meeting never took place.

Mrs. Obama, with her entourage are or will be in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town, the same cities Sen. Obama visited.

Mrs. Obama on Wednesday visited the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Muesum in Soweto and was shown around by Pieterson's sister, Antoinette Sithole. In 2006, Sithole led Sen. Obama on a tour; at the end, Sen. Obama laid a wreath at the museum's memorial.

In Cape Town on Thursday, the First Lady will visit Robben Island - where former South African President Nelson Mandela--who she met on Tuesday-- was held for 18 of his 27 imprisoned years. Obama started his South Africa trip with a visit to Robben Island--where he stood in Mandela's cell.

Mrs. Obama will meet with Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Tutu met with then Sen. Obama in 2006 and teased him about one day becoming president of the U.S.

Ironic note: In Cape Town, "Mrs. Obama is meeting with organizations dedicated to combating HIV/AIDS in South Africa, including using soccer as a means to convene and educate South African children about HIV/AIDS."

Mrs. Obama and her daughters and friends met up with then Sen. Obama in 2006 in Kenya--where she took an HIV/AIDS test with Obama in public in order to encourage men to be tested with their wives.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on June 22, 2011 1:36 PM.

Sen. Kirk joining Sen. Kobuchar's Senate travel, tourism caucus was the previous entry in this blog.

Women's D.C. Softball game: Press vs Congress. Lynn Sweet at bat is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.