News / Africa

Michelle Obama's Africa Trip to Focus on Youth Leadership

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, White House officials said the First Lady's trip will take her to South Africa and Botswana

US first lady Michelle Obama (file photo)
US first lady Michelle Obama (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio
  • Butty reports on First Lady Obama's upcoming Africa trip

James Butty

The White House says first lady Michelle Obama’s forthcoming trip to South Africa and Botswana is a continuation of her work to engage young people.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday ahead of next week’s trip, Tina Tchen, Mrs. Obama’s chief of staff, said the first lady’s trip will emphasize youth leadership, education and health.

“Our trip from June 21st to June 27th is going to focus on youth leadership, education, health and wellness. It’s really a continuation of the work that Mrs. Obama has been doing on her previous trips abroad with the president where she has, throughout the trip, met with students, met with youth to encourage them to excel academically and serve and lead,” Tchen says.

Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes says the first lady’s visit is also directly connected to President Obama’s policy to advance democracy in Africa.

“The president spoke at length about his approach to Africa when he was in Accra, Ghana, in 2009. I think he laid out a vision in which he saw Africa, not as separate from the world, but fundamentally connected to the wider world,” he says.

Rhodes says the United States has a common interest with Africa in fostering economic growth and development, healthy populations, democratic governance and a government that delivers for the people.

He says the United States believes it will be more secure when Africa is secure.

Expectations were high in Africa when President Obama took office in 2009 because Africans believed the new president, whose father came from Kenya, would visit a number of African countries during his time in office.

But, Rhodes says, while the president has not visited more African countries, the administration has found other ways to continue to speak to Africans.

“We strongly supported democratic governance in Africa through a variety of means ranging from speaking in instances such as the recent unrest in Cote d’Ivoire when democratic legitimacy was under threat, to building the capabilities and capacities of African institutions, so that democracy is strengthened,” he says.

Rhodes says the Obama administration pursued a range of development priorities such as food security and The Global Health Initiative.

While in South Africa, Obama will meet with President Jacob Zuma and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as visit the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg.

The White House says, while President and Mrs. Obama have a personal admiration for former President Mandela, no meeting has currently been scheduled with the South African elder statesman. They say any such meeting would depend on Mr. Mandela’s ability to receive visitors.

On Wednesday, Obama is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at a U.S. sponsored young African women’s leadership forum.

Rhodes says the first lady’s speech would follow the theme of President Obama’s message to the young African leaders’ forum last year in Washington, in which he spoke of the extraordinary potential of young people and challenged them to reach for their highest aspirations.

“What we’ve seen in country after country is an undeniable trend that, in places where women are in power, the societies are more prosperous and democratic. And so, we believe that it’s a very important message to send that the empowerment of women and girls in Africa and around the world will help foster greater peace and prosperity,” Rhodes says.

Rhodes also says the Obama administration has not backed away from its commitment to fighting HIV/AIDs in Africa.

“We have actually increased resources for HIV/AIDS.  Not only did we maintain the resources that made such a huge contribution under PEPFAR under President Bush, but we’ve actually gone over and above that in terms of the resources in combating HIV/AIDS on the continent,” Rhodes says.

From South Africa, Obama will visit Botswana, which Rhodes describes as another African country that is making great strides in building the long-term foundations of a stable democracy and pursuing an economic model that can deliver for its citizens.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs