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Michelle Obama Begins South Africa Trip

by Keith Koffler on June 21, 2011, 7:22 am

Updated at 9:10 am with pool reports below.

Michelle Obama and family arrived in South Africa. The cousins and grandma join the official greeting line.

From today’s pool reports:

Johannesburg–First lady Michelle Obama met Tuesday afternoon with Nelson Mandela, this nation’s first black president, a revered figure who has largely disappeared from public view for many months.

It was a historic meeting for Mandela, 92, an iconic symbol of the country’s fight against apartheid, and Obama, 47, the first black wife of a U.S. president.

The first lady arrived Monday for a weeklong official visit to Africa. She and Mandela had not before met.

In 2005, Mandela met then-Sen. Obama in Washington, D.C. and a photo from that visit is kept in Mandela’s office, aides to the first lady said.

Tuesday’s face-to-face with the U.S. first lady took place at Mandela’s home, near his foundation, in Johannesburg’s well-manicured Houghton neighborhood.

Mrs. Obama was accompanied in the meeting by her mother, Marian Robinson, and daughters Malia, 12 and Sasha, 10.

Mrs. Obama also brought a nephew, Avery Robinson, 19, and niece, Leslie Robinson, 15, to Africa and they also visited with Mandela, said Semonti Stephens, deputy communications director for Mrs. Obama.

The two, from Corvallis, Oregon, are children of Mrs. Obama’s brother, Craig Robinson.

Mandela, who was joined by his wife at Tuesday’s gathering, was hospitalized in January with an acute lung infection.

His wife, Graca Machel, is the former first lady of Mozambique.

Mrs. Obama kicked off her first full day of activities in South Africa by traveling from her hotel in Johannesburg to Pretoria.

A planned meeting with Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, wife of President Jacob Zuma, was to start her official schedule, but was put off ’til later in the morning. Mrs. Zuma is one of his three wives.

Instead Obama began her appearances by meeting with South African leaders and U.S. Embassy employees at the stately Dutch Cape-styled residence of U.S. Ambassador Donald Gips. Guests were given pastries and postcard-sized color photos of President Obama as string musicians performed.

She returned to Johannesburg to meet about 11:30 a.m. with Mrs. Zuma at the stark, expansive white residence that rises amid lush grounds, a terraced garden and cypress and palm trees.
Their face-to-face lasted just under a half hour and reportedly talked about Mrs. Obama’s trip and schedule.

Obama is traveling this hilll-fringed metropolis amid cool temperatures despite a brilliant winter sun. She moves on to Botswana on Friday.

Katherine Skiba
Chicago Tribune
Washington bureau

Leave a Comment

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

ol' gator June 21, 2011 at 8:18 am

Dear michelle,
thanks for spending our borrowed money as if it personally belongs to you.
I know its hard to keep up with such royalty as oprah boastfully who loves to travel/lecture , but you’re making a great effort. You have your own “official”
business to do and you have a massive posse in tow..oprah will be proud !
And as you’re munching down on your nightly lobster dripping in butter, please think of the little people like me who will pick up the tab, put fuel in your plane & motorcade so that we can live vicariously through your magical lifestyle which will end in early 2013 when your home address will change. Please enjoy moment.. for it is fleeting,

love,
poor John Q. (surviving on ramein noodles)

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sportinlife10 June 21, 2011 at 8:53 am

VERY understated greeting, reception.
The girls look as cheerful as usual, draped in flags trailing on the ground.

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P. Diddy June 21, 2011 at 8:58 am

Jacket sponsored by Sony Playstation.
I think the First Cow’s time and “talents” should be spent domestically, if at all. Not enough problems here, Mrs. Lobster Extinctionist?
Oh, I forgot, this is a great excuse to have a 5 star vacation with some scattered family members and the chillun on the taxpayer dime for a few hours of “work/talking points/pissing in the wind.” Whatever makes you feel good, right? I am quite sure delivering a couple of speeches and some rousing touchy feely “Yes, You Can” BS will “really” have a giant effect on absolutely no one.
Have a lovely time on safari.

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srdem65 June 21, 2011 at 9:39 am

Maybe the WhiteHouse could tell us again how this most excellent vacation will improve our relations with the continent of Africa. We’re all wondering how FirstGranny, the two daughters and the tagalong cousins fit into this official trip and what they plan to do to improve our relations with the continent of Africa.

As MrsO meets with the young people of the continent of Africa, she will inspire them by her accomplishment of marrying a man of accomplishment.
Her lavish lifestyle will also inspire the young people of the continent of Africa to strive for a political career in their own districts where other people’s money is available for their own personal use.

MrZuma’s showed great respect for our FLOTUS by allowing his third wife to greet MrsO. MrZuma’s first and second wives were otherwise occupied in important matters.

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Susan June 21, 2011 at 10:06 am

What is up with the girls wearing the flags? Guess I’m just not hep with all the international protocol. Just wondering…are we paying for Granny and the cousins vacation too?

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Star June 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Never forget the old person/young person minder–I am sure she tagged along.

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Star June 21, 2011 at 10:36 am

The gathering of the icons…well, I hope everyone is having a historic time.

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Star June 21, 2011 at 11:03 am

Don’t get the flag gambit, either. Are they cold?

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MT for re-redistribution June 21, 2011 at 11:11 am

Queen

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Mike Lester June 21, 2011 at 11:19 am

I got a problem w/ anybody wearing a flag. But if you’re “staving off the cold” (according to reports) I got a bigger problem w/ my President’s kids wearing another country’s flag. No blankets on AF1?

And how many people are we paying for on this ‘let’s go see Uncle Mandela’ trip?

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MT for re-redistribution June 21, 2011 at 11:21 am

Now they’re digging up relatives to take with them. I don’t want my hefty tax bill paying for FLOTUS to act like royalty, now she flips the bird to all the taxpayers by throwing our cash to the extended family. I hate this administration. I’ve never hated an entire administration before. There is NOTHING redeeming about this whole presidency. It is an absolute global failure.

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sportinlife10 June 21, 2011 at 11:48 am

MOOch’s “sisters and her cousins, whom she welcomes by the dozens, and her aunts”.

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Susan June 21, 2011 at 11:38 am

Keith, Did you ruffle some feathers with yesterday’s Latin America article? It is nowhere to be found.

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AnonnA June 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm

What reason could there possibly be for MoochMORE, our own MIchelle Antoinette, to go to Africa?

“The aim of Obama’s tour, which will take her to South Africa and Botswana, 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 empty language — “engage,” “academic life,” “civic leadership,” “furthering awareness,” “health and wellness issues.” In other words, MoochMORE will bring her superficial information on health to a meeting of other professional chatterers and later exhibit herself as a Living Goddess of Female Accomplishment to children and youth. I suppose she’ll work in some of her Broadway Musical Comedy Facial expressions and distribute some of her nutcracker-like hugs.

A farce. And what of this scene at the tarmac? The Princesses Obama are not dressed for the cold and therefore are instantly provided with blankets of the South American flag to wear like a supercape? Not believeable on any point. Why didn’t they drape them over their arms? I notice that the enrobing is not in the video clip. Mrs. Obama looks pretty good, if so stout that her jacket rides up over her butt, and Grandma looks neatly dressed. The kids are sloppy as usual in expensive clothes. But — whoa! — the cousins — they look like they’re headed for a backyard barbeque after cleaning out the garage. Did no one tip them off that they are tag-alongs on an “official visit?”

The Obamas: one trashy family that never learns anything.

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old and in the way June 22, 2011 at 6:21 am

Its not their fault ! the cousins & other posse members were informed at the last minute how Greyhound (their usual way of travel) did not offer routes to S. Africa but were still happy as they had packed 12 slabs of ribs , 3 six packs of schlitz malt liquor bull and 2 cartons of kool menthol 100s for their long trip . ahh, the goodt life ! .tanks aunt shellie !

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Star June 22, 2011 at 11:02 am

I used to cringe when Geo & Laura headed offshore with his fake-hick accent–and now look how we are represented.

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Lizzy June 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm

My 88 year old Mother is trying to get a reverse mortgage so she won’t become homeless and hungary so you can guess how I feel about the
First Ladies vacation with her entourage. And lest we forget a new batch of clothes to show off her toned arms. It makes me sick and they are two of
the most uncaring people ever to occupy the White House. Just in it for the
perks who cares about American’s in need and they are many.

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Lizzy June 23, 2011 at 2:04 pm

There is a site that follows every item of clothing and jewelry etc that Michelle wears. Today she had on a pair of earrings that cost $1255 and
that is what I live on in a month.

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Jackie Hoff August 12, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Why didn’t they ALL stay there…? Save the taxpayers a fortune…!! And have “jerkoff’ join you at home in Kenya…..!!!

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Jackie Hoff August 12, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I bet the greeting was………”Say blood”….”What it’s is?” and I bet Granny said…..”What we bees doin gettin in this Chevy Subruban?” We supposes to bees “showboatin’ in a Cadillac Escalade”….!!

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